Perfusionists monitor blood circulation during surgery and keep the surgical team informed of the patient’s condition. Perfusionists must have a thorough knowledge of heart-lung equipment and be able to make adjustments should abnormal conditions arise.
Perfusionists are trained to operate special equipment that temporarily takes over a patient’s respiratory (breathing) and/or circulatory (blood movement) functions. This ensures that oxygen reaches the patient’s body through the blood, even when the patient’s lungs and heart are temporarily not functioning.
Perfusionists usually work at hospitals, although some may be hired by surgeons or medical service groups.
Other workplace settings:
The BLS reports that employment opportunities for perfusionist are expected to fluctuate throughout the next decade. There is an expected expansion of 5-10% in job opportunities between 2020 to 2030. 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.
To become a perfusionist, you must complete an education program accredited by the Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation (CAHEA) and pass an examination by the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP). Programs are generally one to two years in length.
Licensure is required in Connecticut. An applicant must have successfully completed a perfusion education program with standards established by the Accreditation Committee for Perfusion Education and approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education (CAAHE) and provide verification of completion of a minimum of 50 perfusion cases.
Please visit the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health website for more information.
American Academy of Cardiovascular Perfusion
515A East Main Street
Annville, PA 17003
American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion
2903 Arlington Loop
Hattiesburg, MS 39401
The American Society of Extracorporeal Technology
330 N. Wabash Avenue, Suite 2000
Chicago, IL 60611