Career Profile: Cardiovascular Perfusion
Cardiovascular perfusion is probably one of those health care professions you have never heard of. These individuals are an integral member of open-heart and thoracic surgery teams. Now let’s dive into the details of what cardiovascular perfusionists do and how to become one.
What is the role of a cardiovascular perfusionist?
The primary responsibility of cardiovascular perfusionists is to operate a heart-lung machine (1). In open-heart and thoracic surgeries, these machines take over breathing and blood pumping for the patient, whose heart needs to be stopped in order to be operated on. In addition, cardiovascular perfusionists monitor the patient’s breathing and circulation. If anything is irregular, they must take the necessary corrective actions. The scope of practice of cardiovascular perfusionists also include administering intravenous fluids, blood products, and anesthetic drugs.
Where do cardiovascular perfusionists work?
Cardiovascular perfusionists work in hospitals, specifically ones that perform open-heart and thoracic surgeries.
How do you become a cardiovascular perfusionist?
This is a rather specialized health care profession, so currently Canada only has three training programs, offered by the Michener Institute of Education at UHN, the University of Montreal, and the British Columbia Institute of Technology. You should check the specific details of each program, but generally, they last two years and require applicants to have at minimum a Bachelors of Science degree. Registered nurses and respiratory therapists can also upgrade their skills using one of these programs.
Now that you know more about this health care profession, you should consider the field of cardiovascular perfusion if you are interested in health care, especially surgery, cardiology, and physiology.
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