What does a Perfusionist do?

Perfusionists set up and operate heart-lung machines and monitor patients’ circulation during cardiac surgery. To be accepted in a perfusion training program, students need a background in the biological sciences or training in medical technology, respiratory therapy or nursing. (No perfusionist training programs are offered in Virginia at this time.)

What might a Perfusionist do in a workday?

The perfusionist is solely responsible for the management of circulatory and respiratory functions of the patient which has a great effect on the patient systemic condition and allows the cardiac surgeon to focus on the actual surgical procedure and less on the immediate needs of the patient.

Other responsibilities include:

  • autologous blood collection and processing.
  • implementation and management of the intra-aortic balloon pump.
  • adult and infant extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) as well as monitoring of anticoagulation, electrolyte, acid-base balance and blood-gas composition.

Discover a Career as a Perfusionist

In many tertiary hospitals, perfusionists are also key personnel in placing and managing patients on ventricular assist devices as bridge to recovery or heart transplantation and supporting patients receiving lung or liver transplants. In certain hospitals, perfusionists can be involved in procurement of cardiothoracic donor organs for transplantation.

How much salary do Perfusionists make?

Annual Mean Wage
$80,000 (provided by the Virginia Department of Health Professions)

How do I become a Perfusionist?

Students interested in a perfusionist career should take challenging high school courses in science, math and English. Those interested in becoming medical assistants also should consider courses in secretarial skills, computer training and bookkeeping. Most of these professions require certification, which includes completing educational requirements and passing an exam specific to the career.

Where else can I learn about becoming a Perfunsionist?

Professional Associations:

American Academy of Cardiovascular Perfusion
515A E. Main Street
Annville, PA 17003

(717) 867-1485

American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion
ABCP National Office
2903 Arlington Loop
Hattiesburg, MS 39402

(601) 268-2221

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