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Cardiopulmonary Perfusionist Degree Programs

Cardiopulmonary perfusionists act as an integral part of a cardiothoracic surgical team, with the primary responsibility of operating the heart-lung machines that keep patients alive during cardiac surgeries. The training program most commonly offered in the field is a post-baccalaureate Certificate in Perfusion Technology.

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Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Perfusion Technology

There are only a few dozen medical schools across the country that offer perfusion technology training programs. 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 are required to gain clinical training in order 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).

Education Prerequisites

All medical schools offering training programs in cardiopulmonary perfusion require that incoming students hold a bachelor's degree in a field related to biology or pre-health. Students should also typically have a strong undergraduate GPA, submit letters of recommendation and write a graduate admissions essay.

Program Coursework

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:

  • Pharmacology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Blood conservation techniques
  • Cardiopulmonary bypass techniques
  • Myocardial preservation
  • Biostatistics
  • 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 $100,083 as of December 2013.

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.

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