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The Cardiovascular Perfusionist operates extracorporeal circulation equipment during any medical procedure in which it is necessary to artificially support or temporarily replace a patient's circulatory or respiratory functions, such as in open heart surgery or other heart procedures. Perfusionists routinely administer various types of blood products, medications and control the temperature of patients during surgery.
Perfusionists, in conjunction with attending physicians, are responsible for the selection of the most appropriate equipment and extracorporeal techniques. They are trained in the administration of blood products and drugs.
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Perfusionists may also perform administrative duties, such as purchasing equipment and supplies, hiring support technicians, department management and quality improvement. They must handle very stressful situations, pay close attention to detail and stay abreast of new developments in their profession.
According to the American Society for Extra-Corporeal Technology, the job openings for perfusionists in the United States are increasing due to the growing number of people age 65 and older who are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and require open heart surgery.
In addition, new procedures for many types of heart disease, defects and disorders are increasing the need for cardiovascular perfusion services.
Employment of perfusionists is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2010 as the volume of cardiac surgery increases. The number of surgical procedures is expected to rise as the population grows and ages.
Hospitals and large surgical centers are the primary employers of perfusionists.
With additional training and experience, some perfusionists become administrators, educators, researchers and developers for product manufacturers, or move into marketing and sales.
Median annual earnings of Certified Clinical Perfusionists in 2003 were $65,000. Salaries ranged from $45,000 to $80,000.
Visit the following Web sites to learn more about the rewards of the perfusionist profession: