Career Outlook

If you were a Clinical Perfusionist...

...your job would be to operate the life-sustaining equipment that keeps patients alive during major surgical procedures. 

Perfusionists participate in a number of diverse procedures that involve extracorporeal circulation, cardiopulmonary bypass, and blood conservation. The cardiovascular perfusionist is involved in associated hospital services which include open heart surgery, extracorporeal life support, and orthopedic and vascular surgery. 

What is Perfusion?

The American Society of Extra-Corporeal Technology says:

A perfusionist is a skilled, allied health professional, trained and educated specifically as a member of an open-heart, surgical team responsible for the selection, setup, and operation of a mechanical device commonly referred to as the heart-lung machine. During open heart surgery, when the patient's heart is immobilized and cannot function in a normal fashion while the operation is being performed, the patient's blood is diverted and circulated outside the body through the heart-lung machine and returned again to the patient. In effect, the machine assumes the function of both the heart and lungs. 

The perfusionist is responsible for operating the machine during surgery, monitoring the altered circulatory process closely, taking appropriate corrective action when abnormal situations arise and keeping both the surgeon and anesthesiologist fully informed. In addition to the operation of the heart-lung machine during surgery, perfusionists often function in supportive roles for other medical specialties in operating mechanical devices to assist in the conservation of blood and blood products during surgery, and provide extended, long-term support of patients circulation outside of the operating room environment.