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Career Highlights

  • Work in several different settings
  • Usually employed by hospitals
  • Advancement for medical professionals

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Career Summary

Perfusionists are also known as Clinical Perfusion Scientists. The perfusionist is a highly trained member of the Cardio-Thoracic team, which consists of heart surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses. The perfusionist's main responsibility is to place the patient on bypass so the surgeon may operate on a still, unbeating heart.

They set up and operate the heart-lung machine that keeps the patient alive by pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body while the heart is being operated on. The heart-lung machine is also capable of regulating oxygen, carbon dioxide, and blood chemistry. While the operation is taking place, the perfusionist is in charge of monitoring the patient's blood circulation and keeping the rest of the surgical team informed of any changes. They may also use the machine in cases of respiratory failure, so they must be capable of thinking independently and responding quickly to emergencies. Perfusionists are often in charge of providing long-term support of the patient's circulation after the operation is concluded.

Most perfusionists work in hospitals, but they may also work in research, development, or in marketing and sales. High school students interested in a future in any medical profession should take courses in subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy and physiology, and any health occupation's educational courses. One prerequisite for admission into perfusionist programs is a bachelor's degree with emphasis on medical technology, respiratory therapy, biological sciences, or nursing.




Requires a degree in:

  • Surgical Technologist
  • Respiratory Therapists
  • Nursing

Career Skills

  • Working precisely and accurately
  • Medical knowledge
  • Staying calm under stress
  • Communicating clearly
  • Maintaining confidentiality

Additional Information




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*Salary ranges based on location, experience, and demand. This number represents a rough nation-wide average.