Cardiopulmonary perfusionists are an integral part of cardiothoracic surgical teams, with the primary responsibility of operating the heart-lung machines that keep patients alive during cardiac surgeries. Most post-baccalaureate certificate programs in the field take between 1-2 years to complete and offer direct training with cardiopulmonary bypass equipment, such as the heart-lung machine.
Post-baccalaureate certificate programs in perfusion technology combine classroom lectures in cardiopulmonary bypass procedures with intensive, hands-on training in surgical suites. Students must have a bachelor's degree in biology or a healthcare field and letters of recommendation to be accepted into the program. During the program, students are required to gain clinical training to learn how to monitor patients' oxygen levels, measure cell counts, and monitor circulation during surgery. Individuals who complete such a program are eligible to complete a national examination and become Certified Clinical Perfusionists (CCPs).
Graduate Certificate in Cardiopulmonary Perfusion
Students enrolled in a graduate certificate program in cardiopulmonary perfusion spend the majority of their course hours completing clinical practicum experiences; however, some basic seminars in cardiopulmonary bypass techniques and biology are often included. Some sample class topics are listed below:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Blood conservation techniques
- Cardiopulmonary bypass techniques
- Myocardial preservation
- Perfusion instrumentation and equipment
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not hold data specifically related to the field of cardiopulmonary perfusion. However, according to PayScale.com, perfusionists earned an annual median salary of $102,297 as of January 2016.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
The American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (www.abcp.org) offers certification in the field of clinical perfusion. Individuals must pass a national examination covering basic medical science as well as technical cardiopulmonary perfusion techniques before they can gain certification in the field. Many states require that perfusionists hold certification before they can be employed by a healthcare organization. Continuing education is required to maintain certification, which must be renewed every three years.
Cardiopulmonary perfusionists are a critical component of a cardiopulmonary surgical team. A post-graduate certification requires clinical and classroom sessions.