Perfusionist - How to Become a Perfusionist

Perfusionist

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Perfusionist Job Description

 

Cardiac surgery, by its very nature, requires that the surgeon work on an still heart. To do this, it is necessary to temporarily replace the patient’s respiratory and circulatory functions. The perfusionist is the specialized healthcare professional that is responsible for assuming the function of the heart and/or the lungs while the surgeon is performing these medical procedures.

In short, a perfusionist operates a heart-lung machine. This is an artificial blood pump which moves oxygenated blood to the patient’s body tissues while the surgeon operates on the non-beating heart. It is the perfusionist’s responsibility to manage the metabolic and physiological demands of the patient during the procedure. The perfusionist is also responsible for delivering the drug that stops the heart.

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Responsibilities

 

Perfusionists are responsible for preparation of the heart-lung machine and any other equipment critical to the specific operation. The perfusionist must verify the functionality of the equipment. When the patient is connected to the machine, the perfusionist will continuously monitor the patient’s status to manage the rate of blood circulation, balance the hemodynamics, maintain body temperature, stabilize blood composition and oversee other monitoring devices. 

The primary surgeon will work with the anesthesiology team to direct any use of pharmacological interventions or blood transfusions-- both of which are carried out by the perfusionist. It is imperative that the perfusionist remain in close communication with the surgical team to keep them informed of the patient’s condition throughout the surgery. All of these health care professionals working together must focus on the patient’s needs to ensure a successful outcome.

The perfusionist will be responsible for measuring various blood parameters and other indicators to identify appropriate mechanical intervention techniques, appropriate pharmacological treatments, and precise thermal manipulation techniques needed to maintain a viable physiological condition in the patient. 

The perfusionist must have a thorough knowledge of the equipment available to perform extracorporeal circulation function. A perfusionist is expected to consult with the surgeon to help in selecting the appropriate equipment and techniques to be utilized during surgery.

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Skills

 

In order to successfully perform his or her duties, the perfusionist must have a complete understanding of both the circulatory and respiratory systems, as well as be able to operate highly sensitive and complex medical equipment. They need a ton of skills, some of those are the following:

Active Listening

Must give full attention to what surgeons and other people on your team say to you since you work in a highly critical environment.

Communication

Must be able to effectively convey info to those on your team to have positive outcomes.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to determine the best solutions and approaches to certain problems.

Monitoring

Must be able to monitor your patients and determine their status and make corrective action if necessary.

Operation Monitoring

Make sure all the machinery you manage is working properly.

Judgment and Decision Making

Must be able to make decisions and have autonomy in the choices you make. Use logic and skill to judge the best course of action for your patient.

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to solve complex problems to enable positive outcomes and implement solutions.

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Working Conditions

 

For about 90 percent of the time, the perfusionist will be found in the OR suite where cardiac cases are performed. They may also find their duties expanded to include extending their expertise into the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CIVICU) and cardiac catheterization laboratory.

The perfusionist works as a part of the surgical team. He or she is expected to be current with the patient’s health status and medical history. Prior to the surgery beginning, the perfusionist and the surgeon will collaborate to determine which circulation equipment and which techniques will best serve the patient.

Perfusionists most often find employment in medical centers or third-party perfusion companies. Perfusionists will typically work a scheduled 40-hour week but this may include some nights, weekends and holidays of on-call duty. On-call responsibilities can be lax or rigorous, depending on the program for which the perfusionist works. In busier facilities that perform a large number of open heart surgical procedures, a team of perfusionists may work shifts to ensure that a trained perfusionist is available at all times.

If not working in a clinical setting, a perfusionist can teach in certification programs, assist with research or work for perfusion equipment manufacturers.

 


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How to Become a Perfusionist:

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree and Complete Certificate Program OR Complete a Perfusionist Training Program 

 

There are only a few schools that offer programs specifically in cardiovascular perfusion. If you go into one of those programs it would take you 4 years and cover the following topics:

  • Heart-lung bypass for adults, pediatric and neonatal patients
  • Heart surgery
  • Long-term use of heart-lung machines
  • Monitoring patients who are on heart-lung machines
  • Autotransfusion (transfusion of a patient’s own blood)

Admission to a bachelor's degree program may require the completion of about 60-80 credit hours of college coursework, heavy in sciences and courses like pre-med programs. A course load could look like the following:

 

Freshman Year
  • General Biology I & Lab
  • General Biology II & Lab
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Calculus I
  • Calculus II
  • Electives
Sophomore Year
  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab
  • Social Sciences Requirements
  • Electives & Courses to Satisfy Your Major

Junior Year

  • Physics I & Lab
  • Physics II & Lab
  • Electives & Courses to Satisfy Your Major
Senior Year
  • Complete Required Graduation Coursework
  • Prepare for Interviews 
  • Complete Electives
  • Upper-level Coursework

Once you complete a Bachelor's Degree Program, you must take a certificate course to become a perfusionist.  

 

2. Complete Clinical Training

 

To be able to get Certified, the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP) requires you to have at least 75 supervised perfusions under your belt, after you graduate from college or your Perfusionist Program. So, you must get clinical training to get this experience and enable you to take the certification exam. Many times you can combine the clinical training with your under-grad course work.  

 

3. Earn the Required Certification


Now, you can finally get certified. The ABCP offers the certification examination twice a year. The exam is a written, two-part, multiple choice exam that covers 11 subjects. You can take all sections on the same day or schedule them on different dates. 

 

Section/Category Section Breakdown
Part One
  • Pharmacology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
Part Two
  • Devices and Equipment
  • Lab Analysis
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Quality Assurance

 

4. Earn the Required License


You may have to get a State license in some states. It varies and often depends on your certification through the ABCP. You must contact your local licensing board to find what is required in your area. 

 

5. Maintain Certification Through Continuing Education 

 

The ABCP requires perfusionists to get re-certified every year. You must perform a minimum of 40 cases of clinical activity and get at least 15 continuing education credits every 3 years.

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
12.05.2016
Bachelor's 2 Years Experience Required A Staff Clinical Perfusionist (Perfusionist) is responsible for the safe and effective management of extracorporeal support for the purpose of surgical repairs to the heart and great vessels during...
12.05.2016
VCU Health System's Perfusion Services is seeking a PRN/Hourly - Perfusionist. Are you a Perfusionist looking to join a highly-skilled team committed to children and their families? Then we might be just the place for you. The Children's...
12.05.2016
*80hrs/pp; Day hours from 7:30am-5:00pm; On Call Approximately every 5th night; On Call Holiday & weekend hours.* Performs those functions necessary for the support, treatment, measurement and supplementation of the cardiopulmonary and...
12.05.2016
We are seeking a Cardiac Perfusionist to join us, as we discover the latest cardiovascular breakthroughs and perform the most advanced procedures in the industry. Baystate Medical Centers renowned cardiac experts are performing more than 80% of...
12.05.2016
Like any organization, it's the people that make the difference- Are you ready for the challenge? Do You Know Who We Are? We are Baystate Health- one of the largest health care systems in New England with over 11,500 employees, five hospitals...
11.23.2016
University Health - Shreveport, Louisiana Perfusionist Services Prepares, operates and maintains the physiologic monitoring instrumentation and extracorporeal circulation machinery used in cardiac surgery.
12.05.2016
Associate's degree is preferred Certification Preferred This position under general supervision, and according to established procedures, professional standards, experience, judgment and analysis, operates a heart-lung machine and associated...
12.05.2016
Bachelor's Degree Pay Range: $47.45 - $69.51 JOB SUMMARY: Perfusionists provide circulatory support to patients by performing techniques of extracorporeal circulation and autologous blood salvaging (ATS) during operative and/or resuscitative...
12.05.2016
Pay Range: $47.45 - $69.51 JOB SUMMARY: Perfusionists provide circulatory support to patients by performing techniques of extracorporeal circulation and autologous blood salvaging (ATS) during operative and/or resuscitative procedures. Other...
12.05.2016
Basic Function: Monitor, operate and maintain the pump-oxygenator (heart-lung machine) during open heart surgery. Assist in all blood recovery and blood exchange processes performed throughout the health system. Support and provide clinical...
12.05.2016
Basic Function: Monitor, operate and maintain the pump-oxygenator (heart-lung machine) during open heart surgery. Assist in all blood recovery and blood exchange processes performed throughout the health system. Support and provide clinical...
12.05.2016
- Perfusionist (PRN) - UC Medical Center - Perfusion Services (039449) Job Description Perfusionist (PRN) - UC Medical Center - Perfusion Services(Job Number: 039449) Description Title: Perfusionist Location: UC Medical Center...
12.05.2016
Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...
12.05.2016
Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...
12.05.2016
Basic Function: Monitor, operate and maintain the pump-oxygenator (heart-lung machine) during open heart surgery. Assist in all blood recovery and blood exchange processes performed throughout the health system. Support and provide clinical...
  1. Perfusionist Gainesville, GA Northeast Georgia Health System
    Bachelor's 2 Years Experience Required A Staff Clinical Perfusionist (Perfusionist) is responsible for the safe and effective management of extracorporeal support for the purpose of surgical repairs to the heart and great vessels during...
  2. Perfusionist Richmond, VA VCU Health System
    VCU Health System's Perfusion Services is seeking a PRN/Hourly - Perfusionist. Are you a Perfusionist looking to join a highly-skilled team committed to children and their families? Then we might be just the place for you. The Children's...
  3. Perfusionist St. Cloud, MN CentraCare Health
    *80hrs/pp; Day hours from 7:30am-5:00pm; On Call Approximately every 5th night; On Call Holiday & weekend hours.* Performs those functions necessary for the support, treatment, measurement and supplementation of the cardiopulmonary and...
  4. Cardiac Perfusionist Springfield, MA Baystate Health
    We are seeking a Cardiac Perfusionist to join us, as we discover the latest cardiovascular breakthroughs and perform the most advanced procedures in the industry. Baystate Medical Centers renowned cardiac experts are performing more than 80% of...
  5. Cardiac Perfusionist Springfield, MA Baystate Health
    Like any organization, it's the people that make the difference- Are you ready for the challenge? Do You Know Who We Are? We are Baystate Health- one of the largest health care systems in New England with over 11,500 employees, five hospitals...
  6. Perfusionist: Full Time Shreveport, LA University Health System
    University Health - Shreveport, Louisiana Perfusionist Services Prepares, operates and maintains the physiologic monitoring instrumentation and extracorporeal circulation machinery used in cardiac surgery.
  7. Perfusionist Boston, MA Tufts Medical Center
    Associate's degree is preferred Certification Preferred This position under general supervision, and according to established procedures, professional standards, experience, judgment and analysis, operates a heart-lung machine and associated...
  8. PERFUSIONIST Mason City, IA Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa
    Bachelor's Degree Pay Range: $47.45 - $69.51 JOB SUMMARY: Perfusionists provide circulatory support to patients by performing techniques of extracorporeal circulation and autologous blood salvaging (ATS) during operative and/or resuscitative...
  9. PERFUSIONIST Mason City, IA Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa
    Pay Range: $47.45 - $69.51 JOB SUMMARY: Perfusionists provide circulatory support to patients by performing techniques of extracorporeal circulation and autologous blood salvaging (ATS) during operative and/or resuscitative procedures. Other...
  10. Perfusionist Augusta, GA Augusta University Medical Center
    Basic Function: Monitor, operate and maintain the pump-oxygenator (heart-lung machine) during open heart surgery. Assist in all blood recovery and blood exchange processes performed throughout the health system. Support and provide clinical...
  11. Perfusionist Augusta, GA Augusta University Medical Center
    Basic Function: Monitor, operate and maintain the pump-oxygenator (heart-lung machine) during open heart surgery. Assist in all blood recovery and blood exchange processes performed throughout the health system. Support and provide clinical...
  12. Perfusionist (PRN) - UC Medical Center - Perfusion Services Cincinnati, OH University of Cincinnati Medical Center
    - Perfusionist (PRN) - UC Medical Center - Perfusion Services (039449) Job Description Perfusionist (PRN) - UC Medical Center - Perfusion Services(Job Number: 039449) Description Title: Perfusionist Location: UC Medical Center...
  13. Clinical Perfusionist (Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, 40 Hours, Days) Boston, MA Boston Medical Center
    Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...
  14. Clinical Perfusionist (Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, Per Diem, Days) Boston, MA Boston Medical Center
    Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...
  15. Perfusionist - PRN Augusta, GA Augusta University Medical Center
    Basic Function: Monitor, operate and maintain the pump-oxygenator (heart-lung machine) during open heart surgery. Assist in all blood recovery and blood exchange processes performed throughout the health system. Support and provide clinical...