Perfusionists serve on cardiology surgical teams. They operate and monitor the technology designed to circulate oxygenated blood through patients undergoing open heart surgery and regulate blood chemistry, carbon dioxide, and oxygen. During surgery, perfusionists monitor circulation and notify surgeons when it changes. When patients stop breathing, perfusionists are responsible for pumping oxygen into them. Since this happens frequently, perfusionists must have independent thinking skills and the ability to swiftly respond to crises. Perfusionists are also responsible for monitoring circulation and respiration while patients are recovering from surgery. Aspiring perfusionists should possess exceptional communication skills and be able to focus for hours at a time. Additionally, perfusionists must be able to follow complex instructions, work effectively during stressful situations, and be detail-oriented.

Perfusionists typically work at hospitals. They also work for companies that develop and distribute perfusion technologies. Some perfusionists conduct research, sell perfusion technology to healthcare providers, and conduct marketing.

Education and Training

Admission requirements into perfusionist training programs differ by program. To be admitted into a program, you must hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing, biology, chemistry, or any other medical related field. It typically takes 1-4 years to complete a perfusionist training program. Admission into these programs is very competitive. After completing a program, you’ll be required to pass a written and oral test administered by the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP) to satisfy professional licensure requirements.

Job Outlook

Job growth for perfusionists is projected to increase by 20 to 35 percent through the near future. Growth will be spurred by aging populations requiring more cardiovascular surgery.

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