Cardiologist carries on family medical tradition

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a doctor or surgeon? We interviewed this cardiologist, who grew up in a family of doctors, to find out what this highly esteemed career in the medical profession is really like.

I am lucky enough to have the job title of cardiologist. I work in the medical industry, and I have 10 years of experience in this field with five full years of experience at my current position.

I would describe what I do as extreme corrective work on the hearts of those who have suffered an emergency or are in bad cardiac shape. I want to say that I save lives, but I really do not. The patients pull through by themselves. I just help the body along. My work entails overseeing the processes by which the body can heal itself more readily – replacing parts that are not working, and saving as many parts as I can in the process. A common misunderstanding to correct about what I do is that it is always a life or death situation. Most of my patients are not in that type of danger, and I like for people to come see me before it ever gets that serious.

I would rate my job satisfaction at an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10, if I could. I absolutely believe that this is my calling and my full enthusiasm is “unleashed,” as you say, every day. I know that this is what I am meant to do because I love to do it even when tired, frustrated by other events, sick, etc.

This job does move my heart, no pun intended. Actually, that’s not such a bad pun. Let’s intend it. I definitely felt like I have found my calling. I am passionate about my vocation.

Something unique that readers should know about my background when considering my experiences: I come from a family of doctors. My dad was a podiatrist; my mother was a psychologist. Science just seems to flow in my blood.

I got started in this line of work by accompanying my parents to their jobs. Many times, I had to skip school because there was no one to drive me and there was no bus that came to my house at that time. So I received a great deal of my education inside of a doctor’s office. I really wouldn’t change anything about my experience, because from what I hear, school was pretty boring for most people who attended every day, anyway.

I learned the hard way that having responsibility for life, or being the last hope between a patient, their family, and a tragic circumstance, is a heavy burden. I learned this when I had my first patient pass away. The odds were stacked against him anyway – he was an older man with a family history of heart problems, and he had bad nutrition and no exercise. There was not much I could do, but even so, it was hell when we lost him. That was the only time I had to skip work the next day. I could not go in for a week.

The single most important thing about the working world that I have learned is that you must absolutely positively love what it is that you do. There can be no distinction between what you do for money and what you love. If there is, you are not living life to the fullest.

The strangest thing that has ever happened to me in this position have been the miraculous cures. The body, when nourished by the soul, can heal itself in ways that science simply has not found yet. There were many times when we thought we had lost someone, and a tear, a voice, a touch, has brought them back. True miracles. I have witnessed true miracles.

I get up and go to work each day to save lives and to help people. I cherish the possibility that I can change a life for the better today, and when I do, that is what makes me proudest. I am actually proudest when I can keep someone out of the emergency room. When people trust me and take my advice seriously and then call me later to tell me that their friend suffered the same thing they were about to, and to thank me for saving them from that fate, that is the best feeling in the world.

The challenges that I handle are mostly political. Not being able to get a transplant when I need it because someone doesn’t have the right insurance or enough money. Sometimes I have been moved to tears or great anger in situations involving insurance and money.

My job seems stressful from the outside, but really, when you’re in the room, there is no room for stress. It is just you and the patient. So no, my job is not stressful on the inside, or actually when I am performing my duties as a cardiologist. It is stressful when I have to play politician with the insurance companies. I really don’t need a work life balance, because I have not found the right woman yet, so I really just work, work, work. I don’t date much either. I really have no compunction to do so.

Depending on whether you own a practice or work for a hospital, a salary range can be from the mid six figures to unlimited. You can have other doctors working for you. The financial rewards are really limitless. I am paid enough for what I do, which is working for another doctor. I live frugally.

I take two vacations a year, to Hawaii and a different locale for the second every year. This pretty much gives me all of the off time that I need.

In order to succeed in this field, you need the latest in medical schooling and technology, and the drive to continue educating yourself after you graduate. You also need a lot of patience. Becoming a cardiologist takes a long time, though the path is relatively clear.

If a friend were considering going down the path of becoming a cardiologist, I would tell him that he or she had better be in complete love with people. There is no room for a doctor without the utmost patience in the face of utterly tragic and stressful situations.

If I could write my own ticket, I would have my own firm in five years.

Eric Shannon


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  • The statement in this article that jumped off the page was when the author said, “I absolutely believe that this is my calling and my full enthusiasm is “unleashed,” as you say, every day. I know that this is what I am meant to do because I love to do it even when tired, frustrated by other events, sick, etc.” Isn’t that what this field is all about? I’m interested in this field solely for this reason. I love to help people. So many people these days are stuck in a career that they didn’t plan on having mainly because they didn’t follow their passion. My father is a great example, he owns a very successful business but obviously cant stand going to work everyday. I use him as motivation to push me toward my dream of becoming a PA. All the hard work now will be worth it in the end.

  • Although i haven’t grown up with doctors in my immediate family, I have grown up with them in my extended family. I have friends whose parents are doctors and thats what the kids grew up to be. I have watched these doctors come home happy because they love what they do. I know that i will be the same way when i come home from my job as a dentist.

  • I am moved by the personal experience shared in this lesson because I identify with values of the cardiologist. My decision to pursue medicine does not stem only from my interest in science. It has a lot to do with my experiences as an immigrant. Unlike the cardiologist, I am not from a family of doctors. However, I am familiar with the frustration of insurance politics where immigrants are either refused the proper care or taken advantage of by fine print. I hope to become a pediatrician that can “keep people out of the emergency room”. I want to be well trained by the system but not be confined by the system to provide the best care for my patients. I know my dreams are big even to congress. However, based on what the cardiologist said, my path to being a doctor requires a lot of patience anyway!

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