Perfusion School: Expectations & Opportunity

Posted on November 17, 2021

Working as a perfusionist is a highly challenging and rewarding career path. The educational standards are high, and the profession appeals to those interested in working on surgical teams and in critical care scenarios.

Across the country, there has been an increased demand for perfusion services driven by several factors, such as:

  • Rising number of chronic disease cases such as cardiac disease, liver, and pulmonary diseases.
  • The emergence of new illnesses such as COVID-19.
  • An aging population is more susceptible to heart and lung failure and more likely to need heart surgery.
  • Improving medical treatment increases the number of lung transplants, heart/lung transplants, and heart assist devices.

Given these trends, the demand for qualified clinicians has grown and is expected to grow over the next several years. Here are some common questions about the educational requirements to become a clinical perfusionist. 

What are the qualifications for perfusionist program applicants? 

A Master of Science in Cardiovascular Perfusion (MSCVP) can be acquired at institutions of higher learning such as Lawrence Technological University

A preferred applicant will have a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from an accredited college or university. Qualified candidates may also have experience as a Respiratory Therapist (RRT), Registered Nurse (RN), or in critical care. 

Persons with a B.S. who have completed courses in anatomy, algebra, calculus, physiology, physics, and chemistry are also eligible to apply for MSCVP programs.

How long does it take to get a perfusionist degree?

Most students studying to be a perfusionist already have solid health and/or science background. Many also have hands-on clinical experience working in surgical suites, ICUs, and on hospital floors. Building upon that valuable knowledge and experience, it usually takes two years to complete the requirements for an MSCVP degree. 

What courses are required to become a perfusionist?

The best perfusionist programs provide a comprehensive curriculum that encompasses the essential sciences as well as clinically relevant topics of study, such as:

  • Hematology
  • Patient Care & Professionalism
  • Physiological Science 
  • Perfusion Theory (Basic & Advanced)
  • Professional Practice
  • Applied Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Research Methods
  • Critical Care

The demanding class subject matter reflects the exciting challenges included in the educational process and later as a professional perfusionist. 

Are research and hands-on experience part of perfusionist education?

Higher quality perfusionist educational centers will typically encourage or include some kind of clinical research prior to graduation. This enables students to dive deeper into a particular area of interest. Perfusion research may even continue after graduation for professionals interested in a scientific investigation. 

The final phase to complete a perfusionist master’s degree consists of clinical experience. Here, students work alongside practicing perfusionists in real-world settings, such as operating rooms, ICUs, and lung / heart-lung transplant units. This hands-on experience ties together everything learned up to this point and puts it into practice. 

The ultimate goals of perfusionist education are:

  • To empower graduates with the skills and knowledge needed for practice.
  • To help graduates feel comfortable working in the clinical perfusionist setting.
  • To encourage continued study and research in the field of perfusion. 

How is performance evaluated when studying to be a perfusionist?

Each school has its own method of evaluation, however, most programs have high standards. This is important since perfusionists work with advanced life-saving technology where the utmost attention to patient care is required.

Perfusionist programs may require a certain grade point average to graduate. Also, in clinical rotations, instructors evaluate students based on their knowledge and technical skills. Clinical skills may be evaluated by a letter grade or competence level required for graduation. 

Perfusionists prepared to achieve and serve   

As the demand for perfusionists continues to grow, more people will be drawn to this exciting and rewarding career path. Although the education is rigorous, the effort is worth it for those who seek to make a positive impact in surgical and critical care scenarios. Quality education is stepping up to prepare future perfusionists to provide the highest quality of service and care.

Learn how CCS teams up with LTU to offer one of the country’s most advanced Master of Science in Cardiovascular Perfusion (MSCVP) programs.

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