"Some perfusion schools just do academic work. Not here. We start off observing in the OR and doing academic work. Then we start doing the perfusion work. It's intense, but someone's always watching you. They won't let you do anything wrong. They don't expect you to know everything. You're supposed to ask questions." —T. Patel
About this Career
Perfusionists are operating room specialists who conduct cardiopulmonary bypass. That is, they pump and oxygenate the blood of patients whose hearts or lungs are stopped, usually during open heart surgery.
Occasionally, perfusionists work outside the operating room, providing support for patients with circulatory failure.
Working in conjunction with cardiac surgeons, perfusionists:
- adjust oxygen levels, change body temperatures, correct electrolyte imbalances and manipulate blood flow to meet each patient’s metabolic need
- administer medications, blood products and fluids
- monitor the coagulation status of a patient’s blood to prevent clotting
- by processing their patients’ own blood, perfusionists minimize the amount of blood lost during surgery, which minimizes the need for donated blood