A perfusionist is a medical professional trained to operate a heart-lung machine during cardiac operations, such as open-heart surgery. Since the heart is not pumping during surgery, it is the perfusionist's responsibility to keep a regular flow of oxygenated blood running throughout the patient's body and provide oxygen regulation if respiratory failure occurs. While this all seems like a considerable amount of pressure for a job, it does have its benefits.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to being a perfusionist is in the critical importance of the position in saving a person's life. Without professionals equipped with the intricate knowledge in how to operate heart-lung machines, patients would die. They are a critical member of the cardiac surgical team. They must stay alert during the entire procedure and notify the surgical staff of any changes in the patient's condition. Through the machine, they can also administer additional medication and regulate the patient's body temperature.
A perfusionist benefits from an extensive medical education. A bachelor's degree in medical technology, respiratory therapy, nursing or other biological sciences is normally required before entering a perfusionist program, which concentrates on the specifics of the career. These programs differ and can take from one to four years to complete. The schools that offer training in this particular field are very competitive, according to the Health Careers Center website run by the Mississippi Hospital Association. Oral and written exams must be passed to obtain the licensure of a Certified Clinical Perfusionist (CCP) by the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP).
Because the level of commitment is so involved and competitive, those who become licensed perfusionists should enjoy comfortable job security, reports Health Careers Center. The center says that heart surgeries will become more common due to more attention being given to cardiac health and an aging population with a greater presence of cardiovascular disease.
Because there are a limited number of people who choose this profession, a certain degree of pride can be had in being a member of such a small group of professionals. Perfusionists must be recertified annually to keep their skills sharp and keep up with technological advances in the field. Their job is always full of excitement and new challenges. Perfusionists must always stay alert and pay careful attention during surgeries that may last up to three hours. For those who want a career that holds a lot of responsibility and that can offer a lot of self-confidence, a perfusionist may be the answer. Some people thrive under these kinds of high-pressure occupations.
Fortunately, such a stressful, critical profession can bring comfort in earning a pretty good salary. Perfusionists can make $65,700 to $98,200 a year, with an average salary of $86,400 annually, according to Health Careers Center.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Avi Bolshakov
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