members of the surgical team that performs open-heart and other cardiac
surgeries. They set up and operate the heart-lung machine that keeps the
patient alive by pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body while the
heart is being operated on. The heart-lung machine is also capable of
regulating oxygen, carbon dioxide, and blood chemistry. While the
operation is taking place, the perfusionist is in charge of monitoring the
patient’s blood circulation and keeping the rest of the surgical team
informed of any changes. They may also use the machine in cases of
respiratory failure, so they must be capable of thinking independently and
responding quickly to emergencies. Perfusionists are often in charge of
providing long-term support of the patient’s circulation after the
operation is concluded. Anyone interested in this profession should have
the ability to concentrate for long periods of time and have excellent
communication skills. Other skills that are important for a perfusionist
to possess are having a strong sense of responsibility, being able to take
and carry out orders, and being able to work well under extreme pressure.
in several different environments, but they are usually employed by
hospitals. Individual surgeons and companies that supply facilities with
perfusion services employ them in various roles. They may also work in
research and development or in marketing or sales.
High School Preparation:
students interested in a future as a perfusionist should take courses in
biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy and physiology, health
occupations/medical professions education, computer skills, social
studies, English, algebra, and geometry.
admission into perfusionist programs vary greatly depending on the length
and design of the program. Most programs require a bachelor’s degree with
emphasis on medical technology, respiratory therapy, biological sciences,
or nursing. Perfusionist programs are generally one to four years in
length and are highly competitive. To become licensed, individuals must
pass oral and written examinations given by the American Board of
Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP).
interested in perfusion should contact schools for information on
admission and course of study.
For educational institutions in
offering this course of study click here.
opportunities for perfusionist are expected to fluctuate from high to low
throughout the next decade. There is an expected expansion of 20% - 35% in
job opportunities over the next ten years. This is partly due to the
rapidly aging baby-boom generation that will require more open-heart
surgeries as they get older. There is also added emphasis on cardiac
health due to the fact that heart related illnesses are responsible for a
large number of deaths each year. There will also be job openings due to
current cardiovascular professionals retiring or leaving the field for
other reasons. Because the profession is relatively small and competitive,
job security should be high for these cardiac professionals.
American Board of
Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP)
207 North 25th
of ExtraCorporeal Technology (AmSECT)
2009 Dickens Road
Richmond VA 23230
Phone: (804) 565-6363
Fax: (804) 282-0090