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This article is a part of a series of The Ultimate Guide to Pharmacy Career Opportunities, which has 48 other pharmacy career paths.

Summary - Cardiology Pharmacy Specialist

Cardiology is a pharmacy specialty typically found in urban hospital inpatient settings. However, in the past 10 years, there has been a growth of cardiology clinics (such as Heart Failure) that support positions for staff pharmacists. This section will not focus on cardiology staff positions as it is included in Hospital Pharmacy. 

The cardiology path is similar to a physician’s path, involving years of schooling, residency, practice, and cardiology specialization. Cardiology paths could lead to specializing further into clinics like heart failure, post-op, heart transplant, etc. Depending on a pharmacist’s interest, one could further specialize in clinics like heart transplants or mechanical circulatory support or get more involved with policy, leadership or research.

Responsibilities of a Cardiovascular Pharmacist

Cardiovascular Pharmacists may also be responsible for the following:

As a specialist, this pharmacy career path is highly specialized with hands-on treatment guidance and maintenance for patient care, seeing the highest priority and most delicate patients. A day in the life for a hospital cardiology pharmacist starts with rounding, patient evaluations, treatment designs and spends a considerable amount of time charting. Like most specialties, work revolves around complex patient cases where established guidelines may or may review. With this setting, a cardiovascular pharmacist will likely be a part of a team of healthcare professionals ensuring the proper treatment and medication regimen through collaborative discussion.

Richard Mullvain, a “Pharmaceutical Care Provider”, shares his day in the life as a cardiology pharmacy specialist here.

This Pharmacy Cardiology Career Description is a part of The Ultimate Guide to Pharmacy Careers, part of our future book POTENTIAL.

Requirements of a Cardiovascular Pharmacy Specialist

To become a cardiovascular pharmacist, postgraduate training is required in nearly all settings. This includes a PGY1 residency and then a cardiology PGY2. A PGY2 isn’t always a requirement, but it is a wise path to pursue in a saturated job market. This wasn’t the case 10-20 years ago, when the field was newer. A strong foundation of cardiovascular medications is demanded. Certifications can also be pursued from organizations such as the Cardiology Board of Pharmacy Specialists or the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, while advantageous for career development, these certifications are often not a requirement for applying to a job. 

John Lindsley PharmD BCPS shares his thoughts on BPS certification for cardiology here.

The ability to quickly assess a patient’s condition and critically study the development of therapy is vital. Additionally, mental fortitude is advantageous as the specialty is driven by patients in poor condition, and sometimes in life-threatening situations. 

Salary of a Cardiology Pharmacist

According to Salary.com, the average salary for a cardiovascular pharmacist is approximately $120,000 per year, which is slightly less than the typical staff pharmacist salary of approximately $125,000 per year. However, cardiovascular pharmacists see less fluctuation between various salaries with lows at $107,000 per year and highs at $135,000 per year. This indicates job stability but with little fluctuation. Additional responsibilities, such as managing protocols or clinics, may not translate into increased salary. It can also indicate few opportunities to advance one’s career in this specialty of pharmacy.

Pros and Cons of Being a Cardiology Pharmacist

Those interested in pursuing a career in cardiovascular pharmacy will be presented with a critical role in managing medications. As such, those able to handle the stress of having little margin for error will succeed as a cardiovascular mistake can carry drastic repercussions. Those in this field will find interaction to be prevalent in the day to day either from the patients or the medical team via providing “curbside consults” to formal education, which may be a pro or con depending on your interaction preferences. 

Pick your poison. Love complexity? Then cardiology can be a wonderful career path. But if you fret over decision making, then cardiology will be over-stressful. Conversely, this means constantly dealing with a wide variety of complex problems that have a low tolerance for error. Furthermore, the specialty is frequented by patients in typically poor condition which can prove a challenge to those who are especially empathetic or have a weak stomach. 

How to Stand Out as a Job Candidate in Cardiology Pharmacy

This path will likely demand two years of residency, but previous experience can give a candidate an edge. For example, having hospital experience as a pharmacy intern, performing an internship, or having completed a rotation relevant to the field are all good ways to further one’s understanding. In addition, joining networks such as ACCP can allow for expanding the discussion of cardiovascular pharmacy and can present new opportunities, projects to volunteer, networking events, and continuing education while also presenting opportunities to become more distinguished through certifications. 

The best way to dive into cardiology is by reading the research (which there is plenty). Guidelines are an easy place to start, but there is a continuous stream of published literature on pharmacy-powered cardiology clinic medication interventions.

Prepared by Evan Hardbeck, PharmD Candidate

Interview with Dr. CJ Michaud, PharmD (Spectrum Health Cardiology Clinic)

Edited by Alex Barker, PharmD

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How to Become a Cardiology Pharmacy Specialist | Cardiology
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