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Oswego Career Ladders - Cardiovascular Perfusionist

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Cardiovascular Perfusionist

Industry: Healthcare
Area: Nursing and Direct Patient Care

Perfusionists are operating room specialists who conduct cardiopulmonary bypass. That is, they pump and oxygenate the blood of patients whose hearts or lungs are stopped, usually during open heart surgery. Occasionally, perfusionists work outside the operating room, providing support for patients with circulatory failure.Working in conjunction with cardiac surgeons, perfusionists adjust oxygen levels, change body temperatures, correct electrolyte imbalances and manipulate blood flow to meet each patients metabolic need. They administer medications, blood products, and fluids. They monitor the coagulation status of a patients blood to prevent clotting. By processing their patients own blood, perfusionists minimize the amount of blood lost during surgery, which minimizes the need for donated blood.

Work Settings

As a member of the open heart surgery team, perfusionists may work in large or small hospitals in major cities or average sized communities. Most of their duties are in the operating room but they may be needed in the emergency room or intensive care units as well.


Training programs range in length from 15 months to two years. Most require candidates to have a bachelors degree prior to admission. A few award a bachelors degree as part of the training. Most programs offer a certificate of completion, though bachelors and professional masters degree programs are available. Graduates of accredited programs are eligible to apply for American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP) certification examinations.

Job Outlook

Very favorable.


Average annual salary $45,000 - $65,000

Work Schedule

40-hours per week plus on call

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