It is well known that specialists and consultants are among the best paid members of the healthcare service. However, if you are looking to specialise you may want to know exactly how much they make as well as what the job involves so that you can decide whether this sort of job is the right one for you.

What does a Cardiothoracic Surgeon do?
A cardiothoracic surgeon is a specialist who operates on lungs, heart, oesophagus and other thoracic organs, which are related to the chest. They will diagnose and treat diseases affecting these organs as well as operating on them. The surgery itself is very challenging and demanding but is very rewarding. Technological changes and rapid growth in research in this area means that although the specialty is young it is rapidly evolving which makes it exciting. However, it is a very competitive area with only very limited amounts of jobs as there are only eight specialist centers in the UK where specialists in this area work. The types of work will include adult cardiac surgery, general thoracic surgery, heart and lung transplants and congenital cardiac surgery. Patients also have to be monitored in intensive care and there will be some ward work and outpatients clinics to attend as well.
What skills and qualifications do they have?
In order to become a surgeon you have to start by completing your medical degree and have a MBBS qualification. Then you will do a two year foundation programme from which you can do two years of core training or go straight into cardiothoracic surgery.
The role has a lot of stress so it is important that you can keep calm in all situations so that you do not let emotion effect your quality of work. The operations mean that you will need good hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity and visio-spacial awareness. It is necessary to be able to show initiative and monitor situations, acting when necessary and anticipating possible problems. Organisational and communication skills are essential as well as team working and leadership skills. Long hours in the theatre need stamina and you will need to be able to cope in difficult circumstances as necessary. You will also need to inspire confidence in others as you lead a team and a patient towards better health.
How much do they get paid?
The pay scale for consultants is quite broad as it depends on experience as well as location. The basic salary will be between £76,761 and £103,490 depending on how long you have been in the job. There is also the opportunity to apply for awards which are given in monetary form to those who have gone over and above their job requirements. Supervisory and management roles will also pay more. Private practice work pays more and so some specialists may choose to do this outside of their NHS hours to earn extra money. However, there will be contracted hours and there may be weekend, shift work and on-call time necessary in order to provide full time care for patients.