PERFUSIONISTS are skilled allied health professionals, who are members of an open-heart, surgical team. They are responsible for the operation of a heart-lung machine. The heart-lung machine takes blood out of the body, oxygenates it, and then returns the blood to the patient. Perfusionists are responsible for operating the machine during surgery and monitoring the altered circulatory process closely. Perfusionists operate the heart-lung machine to regulate blood circulation and composition; to administer drugs and anesthetic agents; and to control body temperature during surgery or respiratory failure of a patient.
Salary, Size & Growth
- $107,500 average per year ($51.75 per hour)
- A medium occupation (48,700 workers in 2010)
- Expected to grow rapidly (2.4% per year)
PERFUSIONISTS must be certified by the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion. Candidates for certification must be a graduate from, or be currently enrolled in, an accredited cardiovascular perfusion education program, and become a graduate before the date of the examination. Admission to perfusion programs is competitive. Most schools require candidates to have a bachelor's degree, which includes courses in chemistry, biochemistry, pre-calculus mathematics, physics, human anatomy, and physiology. There is also a minimum requirement of performing seventy five perfusion cases in order to sit for the examination.