How do I Become a Clinical Perfusionist?

The heart-lung machine for a patient undergoing cardiac surgery is run a clinical perfusionist. The path to becoming a clinical perfusionist is challenging, but the variety of tasks and responsibility make it an appealing option for many people. Different countries have different requirements for becoming a clinical perfusionist, but most of them require the same amount of training and are governed the same board as the United States. The American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusionists oversees the certification process in the United States.

Earn a bachelor’s degree in a science field with a strong emphasis in chemistry, biology, anatomy, or physiology to work as a clinical perfusionist. Beyond a bachelor’s degree, two years of additional training are required. This training takes place at a school with a pulmonary training program that is accredited. You will be board-eligible and able to work as a clinical perfusionist once you have completed this program.

While still enrolled in the two-year training program, you can begin the certification process to become a certified clinical perfusionist, or C.C.P. You can take the first part of the certification process, the Perfusion Basic Science Exam, if you are currently enrolled in, or have graduated from, an accredited training program and have participated in 75 clinical procedures. You are eligible for the Clinical Applications in Perfusion Exam, which is the second part of the certification process, after you have gained employment in the field and completed 50 procedures on your own. You will become a certified clinical perfusionist after passing this section of the exam, and you will be able to use the initials C.C.P after your name.

A strong science background and training are not the only requirements for becoming a clinical perfusionist. Clinical perfusionists collaborate with the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and a support staff of physician assistants, nurses, and technicians as part of a team. The clinical perfusionist is in charge of setting up the pulmonary machine and keeping track of the patient’s condition during surgery. If the patient’s condition deteriorates during surgery, the perfusionist must accurately communicate the problem to the surgeon and anesthesiologist, as well as be ready to assist with machine adjustments. The perfusionist is in charge of pumping blood and oxygen to the patient during cardio bypass surgery. This job entails a lot of responsibility and can be extremely stressful. Before beginning clinical perfusionist training, it is critical to understand all areas of responsibility.