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Cardiology vs. Hematology and Oncology : Which Specialty is Right for You?

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by Yousmle Staff in Career

Cardiology vs. hematology-oncology is one of the debates among medical students interested in physiology. Both specialties allow you to explore the complex workings of the human body and use your skills to improve patient outcomes. However, they also have significant differences, such as the scope of practice, the work environment, and the training requirements.

How do you decide which one is right for you? In this article, we will provide helpful information and tips to help you make an intelligent decision on cardiology vs. hematology-oncology and find a fulfilling career that matches your interests and abilities. We will also help you evaluate practical factors such as job availability, salary, and training duration.

Cardiology vs. Hematology and Oncology: Salary and Job Security

Cardiology might be your specialty if you want to earn a lot of money and have a steady demand for your services. But be prepared for a competitive job market after fellowship, even if you graduate from a prestigious program. A Harvard-MGH fellow once told me, “I’ll consider myself lucky if I find a job in a city I recognize.”

Hematology-oncology, meanwhile, offers more job openings. You can easily find a hospital that needs hematologist-oncologists, and the career outlook is positive, even if the salary is not as high as cardiology. But oncology also comes with some challenges, such as higher burnout and less job security, which we will discuss later.

According to recent data, cardiologists earn an average annual salary of $507,000, while hematologist-oncologists have a slightly lower average salary of $463,000. Of all medical specialties, only orthopedists and plastic surgeons have higher average annual salaries than cardiologists, with orthopedists earning $573,000 and plastic surgeons earning $619,000.

Estimated Physician Average Yearly Salary by Medical Specialty in the US

Cardiologists earn $507,000 per year on average, while hematologist-oncologists earn slightly less with $463,000 annually

Cardiology vs. Hematology and Oncology: Competitiveness

Here we can assess the competitiveness of a specialty by looking at the unmatched rate – the % of people who apply and do not match into their preferred specialty.

To pursue a career in cardiology or hematology-oncology, you must first match into an internal medicine residency. Among US Seniors, the unmatched percentage for internal medicine residency was only 2%, making it less competitive than other residencies. However, this does not mean that cardiology or hematology-oncology is less competitive. After completing your internal medicine residency, you will still need to match into a fellowship, which is generally more competitive than matching into a residency. 

Cardiology vs. Gastroenterology

Below is the unmatched percentage among non-pediatric fellowships with >100 applicants. The unmatched percentage of US Seniors applying to the cardiovascular diseases fellowship was 16.6%, making it highly competitive compared to most fellowships with >100 applicants. Similarly, the unmatched percentage of US seniors applying to hematology-oncology was 11.9%, making it less competitive than the cardiovascular diseases fellowship.

Cardiology vs Hematology and Oncology

Training Path: Fellowship vs. Residency

The training pathways for cardiology and hematology-oncology are quite similar. To become a cardiologist, you must complete a three-year residency in internal medicine, followed by a cardiology fellowship. Similarly, to become a hematologist-oncologist, you must complete a three-year fellowship in hematology-oncology after completing an internal medicine residency.

A hematology-oncology fellowship is generally less competitive than a cardiology fellowship. Your USMLE scores, med school, and research are the main things for residency applications. Research is also a big thing for fellowship applications, and your residency program counts more, but your USMLE scores matter much less.

Cardiology vs. Hematology and Oncology: Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is a crucial factor for many medical professionals. Hematologist-oncologists often enjoy a better work-life balance due to the nature of their work. They usually have predetermined working hours, leading to more predictable schedules.

Both cardiology and hematology-oncology are patient-centric specialties that require building long-lasting relationships with patients. While this can be rewarding, it also means carrying a patient panel and more administrative work.

That being said, cardiologists work an average of 56.2 hours/week, ranking third after general surgeons and intensivists who work 57.4 and 57.7 hours, respectively. Hematologist-oncologists ranked among the middle of medical specialties, with an average of 52.6 weekly working hours.

Estimated Physician Weekly Working Hours by Medical Specialty in the US

Cardiologists work an average of 56.2 hours per week, while hematologist-oncologists work slightly fewer hours, at 52.6 per week.

Both cardiologists and hematologist-oncologists have to deal with long hours of documentation. Hematologist-oncologists spend slightly more hours, approximately 18 hours per week, due to extensive diagnostic and follow-up tests. Meanwhile, cardiologists spend around 16 hours per week on admin/paperwork.

Estimated Physician Admin/Paperwork Hours by Medical Specialty in the US

Cardiologist works on admin/paperwork an average of 16 hours per week, while hematologist-oncologists work more hours, at 18 per week.

Training Duration and Subspecialties

The training duration is a key aspect to consider when choosing between cardiology vs. hematology-oncology. Both cardiology and hematology-oncology have a minimum of six years, with three years of internal medicine residency.

In addition, cardiologists often pursue more subspecialty training in fields like echocardiography or electrophysiology because of the scarce job opportunities. This can increase the length of your cardiology training.

Cardiology vs. Hematology and Oncology: Job Satisfaction and Burnout Rates

Job satisfaction plays a significant role in career fulfillment. According to various studies, both cardiologists and hematologist-oncologists tend to have high job satisfaction rates, with many professionals expressing contentment with their career choice and would choose it again if given the chance. However, cardiology has slightly lower reported burnout rates than hematology-oncology.

According to recent data, both cardiology and hematology-oncology are highly ranked among medical specialties, with 93% of cardiologists and 94% of hematologist-oncologists stating that they would choose the same specialty again.

Job Satisfaction Rate By Medical Specialty in the US

Cardiologists reported a job satisfaction rate of 93%, while hematologist-oncologists reported a slightly higher satisfaction level at 94%

That being said, the burnout rates for cardiology were 43% which was near the lower end of all medical specialties. In comparison, hematology-oncology had a burnout rate of 52%, which ranked above the middle of all medical specialties.

Burnout Rate By Medical Specialty in the US

Cardiologists have a burnout rate of 43%, while hematologist-oncologists have a higher burnout rate of 52%.

Cardiology vs. Hematology and Oncology:


To provide a visual overview, here’s a table comparing cardiology and hematology-oncology:

Average SalaryGenerally high income due to specialization, especially in interventional cardiologyHigh but lower than cardiology
Job SecurityHigh demand due to an aging population and the prevalence of cardiovascular diseasesHigh demand due to the prevalence of blood disorders and cancer, aging population
Training PathTypically involves 3 years of internal medicine residency followed by a 3-year cardiology fellowshipTypically involves 3 years of internal medicine residency followed by a 3-year hematology-oncology fellowship
LifestyleVaried; may involve on-call responsibilities, long working hours, and outpatient clinic dutiesMore predictable work schedule and increased opportunities for time off, but may involve on-call responsibilities
Administrative PaperworkHigh documentation requirements such as notes, test orders, and referral lettersHigher documentation requirements including detailed patient records and treatment plans
Job SatisfactionGenerally high but can vary with the work environment and patient outcomesSlightly higher
Burnout RatesRelatively lower Higher
PersonalityStrong analytical skills, attention to detail, ability to handle stress and pressureStrong analytical skills, empathy, ability to deliver difficult news, handle emotional situations

Please note that this table serves as a general comparison. To determine the most suitable career for you, consider your personal and career priorities and goals.

Concluding Thoughts

Choosing the right specialty between cardiology vs. hematology-oncology depends heavily on your priorities. To determine this, try reverse engineering your ideal life and identify your top priority. A helpful exercise is to write down the top five things you want to achieve in your career and personal life. Knowing these priorities will make finding a career that aligns with them easier. Often, the biggest obstacle is not a lack of knowledge about different fields but a lack of self-awareness about our preferences.

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Want FREE Cardiology Flashcards?

Cardiology is key for impressive USMLE scores. Master cardiology from a Harvard-trained anesthesiologist who scored USMLE 270 with these 130+ high-yield flash cards. You’ll be begging for cardio questions - even if vitals make you queasy.