Is becoming a perfusionist right for me?

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What do perfusionists do?
What are perfusionists like?

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How to become a Perfusionist

To become a perfusionist, follow these general steps:

  • Earn a Bachelor's Degree: While specific undergraduate majors may vary, most perfusionist programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in a related field such as biology, physiology, chemistry, or pre-medicine. During your undergraduate studies, focus on courses that provide a strong foundation in the sciences, particularly anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology.
  • Gain Clinical Experience: Many perfusionist programs require applicants to have clinical experience in healthcare settings. Consider gaining experience through internships, volunteer work, or employment in hospitals, clinics, or medical offices. Exposure to cardiac surgery or critical care settings can be particularly beneficial.
  • Complete a Perfusionist Program: Enroll in a perfusionist program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accreditation Committee for Perfusion Education (ACPE). These programs typically result in a Master's Degree in Perfusion or a Certificate in Perfusion Technology. Perfusionist programs typically include classroom instruction, laboratory work, and clinical rotations in cardiac surgery and perfusion techniques.
  • Obtain Certification: After completing a perfusionist program, you'll need to pass the certification examination administered by the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP) to become a Certified Clinical Perfusionist (CCP). Certification demonstrates your competence in perfusion techniques and is often required for licensure and employment (see below for details).
  • Consider Licensure: While not all states require licensure for perfusionists, some states may have licensure or registration requirements. Check with your state's licensing board or regulatory agency for specific requirements in your area.
  • Continue Education and Training: To maintain certification and stay current in the field, perfusionists are typically required to complete continuing education credits and participate in professional development activities throughout their careers. Consider pursuing advanced certifications or additional training in specialized areas of perfusion practice to enhance your skills and qualifications.
  • Seek Employment: Once you've completed your education and obtained certification, begin your job search for perfusionist positions in hospitals, medical centers, cardiac surgery centers, or other healthcare settings. Network with professionals in the field, attend job fairs, and explore online job boards to find opportunities that align with your career goals and interests.

Perfusionists typically obtain certification through the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP). The primary certification offered by the ABCP is the Certified Clinical Perfusionist (CCP) credential. To become a CCP, perfusionists must meet education and clinical experience requirements and pass the certification examination administered by the ABCP.

Here are the general steps to obtain CCP certification:

  • Education: Completion of a perfusionist program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accreditation Committee for Perfusion Education (ACPE) is typically required. These programs may result in a master's degree in perfusion or a certificate in perfusion technology.
  • Clinical Experience: Candidates for CCP certification must complete a specified number of clinical hours in perfusion practice. Clinical experience requirements may vary depending on the specific program and educational pathway.
  • Certification Examination: Once education and clinical experience requirements are met, candidates are eligible to sit for the CCP certification examination. The examination covers a range of topics related to perfusion techniques, physiology, pharmacology, equipment operation, and patient care.
  • Continuing Education: To maintain CCP certification, perfusionists must participate in continuing education activities and fulfill renewal requirements set by the ABCP. This may include completing continuing education credits, attending conferences, and staying current with advancements in perfusion practice.

In addition to CCP certification, perfusionists may pursue advanced certifications in specialized areas of perfusion practice, such as pediatric perfusion, ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) specialist certification, or certification in autotransfusion technology. These advanced certifications demonstrate proficiency and expertise in specific areas of perfusion practice and may enhance career opportunities and professional advancement.