We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What does a Cardiac Surgeon do?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A cardiac surgeon is a highly trained, licensed medical professional who performs various surgical procedures on human hearts. Assisted by other surgeons and nurses, he or she uses precision tools and robotic equipment to execute delicate operations. A cardiac surgeon usually performs operations by appointment, though he or she may be required to perform immediate, emergency surgeries in life threatening situations. Most surgeons are employed by large general hospitals and heart health centers, though some find work in private surgical offices.

Surgeons operate on people with various birth defects and those who have developed heart problems due to age, diet, cancer, or disease. He or she may conduct screening tests to determine the presence of physical abnormalities or functional problems, consult the patient and other physicians about the findings, and decide if invasive surgery is necessary. The cardiac surgeon conducts operations with great care, ensuring the safety of the patient to the best of his or her ability. After a procedure, the surgeon and operating room nurses often monitor the patient's vital signs and overall condition for a certain period of time, to ensure that the surgery was successful.

Some cardiac surgeons specialize with certain types of patients or procedures. A pediatric cardiac surgeon, for example, operates primarily on infants, children, and teenagers. He or she must have very specialized knowledge about the developing hearts and organs of young people. Another surgeon may choose to specialize in a special type of operation, such as open heart surgery or heart transplants. Some professionals have extensive knowledge of artificial hearts, pacemakers, and other implants.

To become a cardiac surgeon, a person must receive a bachelor's degree, usually in pre-medical studies, complete a four-year doctoral program at an accredited medical school, complete a yearlong internship at a hospital, and assume a seven to ten year residency. The last two to three years of a new surgeon's residency are dedicated exclusively to conducting supervised heart surgeries and related procedures. Upon completion of a residency, a new cardiac surgeon must take an extensive licensing exam administered by a nationally recognized governing organization.

Technological advances in medical technology and surgical procedures requires cardiac surgeons to engage in continuing education and stay up to date on medical news and journals. With a growing population of elderly citizens and the prevalence of new diseases and cancers, there is a strong demand for knowledgeable surgeons. Those with extensive computer expertise are in especially high demand, as many pieces of modern screening and operative machinery require surgeons to program equipment and interpret data.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By croydon — On Jul 10, 2012

@irontoenail - Well, there has been a lot of progress on using technology to practice surgery in the last few decades and I wonder how long it's going to be before surgery can mostly be done with machines.

I don't mean that it will eliminate the need to have surgeons altogether, but heart surgery in particular often needs the most delicate touch possible and a machine is often going to be more precise than a person. I just wonder what the shift will mean for salaries and the number of people going into surgery, cardiac or otherwise, if it becomes more about running and supervising a machine than doing the cutting yourself.

By irontoenail — On Jul 09, 2012

@bythewell - The top cardiac surgeons do still get paid quite a lot, but there are still not enough of them. You're right, it's a very difficult job and one that requires not only extreme dedication but also natural talent and skill. There just aren't all that many people who can qualify, and some of those people are going to become lawyers and chefs instead because they don't want the stress.

Top cardiac surgeons are a rare breed and something hospitals consider a resource that needs to be kept and nurtured, so they pay them as much as they have to.

By bythewell — On Jul 08, 2012

For a while it really annoyed me how much a doctor makes compared to other professions. I know they have very stressful jobs, but some of them get paid ten or more times what a teacher gets paid and I would argue that a teacher's job is almost as important and possibly just as stressful.

But when you look at how much schooling a doctor has to go through in order to become a doctor, particularly if they specialize in something like cardiac surgery, you can understand the pay. Not so much that they "deserve" it more than other professionals, but just that the pay needs to be that much to coax more people into the job. Because you'd need to pay me that much to make me go through a decade or more of schooling, so that I could then work more than 80 hours a week.

And you want to make the field competitive so that you get the best, rather than what they, unfortunately currently get with many teachers, which is a lot of people who couldn't get a job elsewhere (apologies to anyone who teaches because they love it. My point is that you should be paid more).

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.