Starting a career as a perfusionist allows one to be responsible for operating machinery used during heart surgery. This role is very vital in the healthcare sector because it is critical to the success of heart surgery. Perfusionists work closely with professionals such as cardiac surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and other members of the surgical team. If you are interested in a healthcare career that involves working in the surgery room, you can choose a career as a perfusionist. You will work with surgeons by operating the heart-lung machine and helping patients perform critical body functions as surgery progresses.

As a perfusionist, your primary responsibility is to maintain a patient’s circulation and oxygenation while the heart is stopped, allowing the surgeon to perform intricate procedures on the heart or other organs. Pursuing a career as a perfusionist requires you to have a degree as well as relevant skills that are needed for this career path. Therefore, you have to understand the steps and requirements that are needed for starting this career path.

In this piece, I will guide you through the steps on how to become a perfusionist as well as the key skills you need to build a successful career.

Steps to Start a Career as a Perfusionist

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

    This is the first step to pursuing a career as a perfusionist. You have to apply to an accredited university to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Most perfusionist programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as biology, physiology, or chemistry. These degrees will give a strong foundation in science such as anatomy, physiology, or pharmacology.

  2. Gain Practical Experience

    You must get hands-on clinical experience after you have a bachelor’s degree. This can be done through means such as internships, volunteer work, or employment in hospitals, clinics, or medical offices. Additionally, this internship is important as it is also a major requirement for obtaining your license.

  3. Complete a Perfusionist Program

    A perfusionist program includes classroom instruction, laboratory work, and clinical rotations in cardiac surgery and perfusion techniques. This can be either a master’s degree in perfusion or a certificate in perfusion technology.

  4. Pursue Additional Certifications

    After completing your program, you need to pass the certification examination. This will enable you to become a Certified Clinical Perfusionist (CCP). Additionally, this certification will demonstrate your competence as well as make your licensure smooth.

  5. Obtain a License to Practice

    You cannot practice as a perfusionist without a license. After completing your internship and program, you should apply to the licensing board. You will be issued a license after fulfilling the requirements such as passing the licensing examination.

  6. Gain Professional Experience

    You can begin working as a perfusionist after receiving your license. Before starting your practice, it is advised that you get some professional experience. Additionally, this will allow you to learn from and improve your skills from expert perfusionists.

  7. Choose an Area of Specialisation

    This career path is a vast field with various subspecialties. You can pick an area of specialization in any of the fields and carve a niche for yourself. Furthermore, specializing in a specific field can increase your skills and grow your practice.

Types of Perfusionist

  1. Transplant Perfusionist

    They are in charge of perfusing donor organs with a preservation solution to keep them viable throughout procurement and transportation, as well as prepping the organs for transplantation into the recipient.

  2. Cardiovascular Perfusionist

    Cardiovascular perfusionists focus on providing cardiopulmonary bypass support during cardiac procedures such as coronary artery bypass grafting, valve repair or replacement, and congenital heart defect repair.

  3. Research Perfusionist

    These perfusionists work in academic or research environments, performing studies and investigations of perfusion procedures, technology, and results. Additionally, they work with researchers, physicians, and industry partners to create and test innovative perfusion methods, equipment, and therapies that seek to improve patient care and results in cardiac surgery and critical care.

  4. Pediatric Perfusionist

    Paediatric perfusionists specialize in providing perfusion assistance for children undergoing heart surgery or other treatments that necessitate cardiopulmonary bypass.

Universities in Africa that Offer Physiology

  1. University of Cape Town, South Africa
  2. Cairo University, Egypt
  3. University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  4. Ain Shams University, Egypt
  5. Alexandria University, Egypt
  6. Mansoura University, Egypt
  7. University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
  8. University of Pretoria, South Africa
  9. University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  10. Assiut University, Egypt
  11. Zagazig University, Egypt
  12. Al-Azhar University, Egypt
  13. Tanta University, Egypt
  14. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  15. Menoufia University, Egypt
  16. Suez Canal University, Egypt
  17. University of Nairobi, Kenya
  18. Mohammed V University, Morocco
  19. Benha University, Egypt
  20. University of Tunis El Manar, Tunisia
  21. University of Lagos, Nigeria
  22. University of Sfax, Tunisia
  23. Sohag University, Egypt
  24. Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
  25. Beni-Suef University, Egypt
  26. Minia University, Egypt
  27. University of the Free State, South Africa
  28. Tunis University, Tunisia
  29. North-West University, South Africa
  30. University of Khartoum, Sudan
  31. University of the Western Cape, South Africa
  32. Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
  33. Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
  34. University of Monastir, Tunisia
  35. University of Nigeria, Nigeria
  36. Makerere University, Uganda
  37. University of Limpopo, South Africa
  38. University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  39. South Valley University – Qena, Egypt
  40. University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

In Conclusion, pursuing a career as a perfusionist is one of the most fascinating careers to break into. However, it demands a high level of dedication, education as well as expertise. Therefore, you should spend time getting familiarised with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in this career before you begin your career journey.

Good luck!

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