Mayo Clinic cardiovascular perfusionist monitoring a patient in an operating room

What does a cardiovascular perfusionist do?

During an open-heart surgery or other heart procedure, a cardiovascular perfusionist selects equipment and monitors the patient to ensure normal blood flow, temperature and other respiratory functions. While a surgeon performs the operation on a very specific portion of the heart, a cardiovascular perfusionist works to ensure the rest of the body still maintains normal function during the procedure.

Cardiovascular perfusionists routinely administer various types of blood products and medications to patients during surgery. They may also perform administrative duties, such as equipment and supply purchasing, department management, and quality improvement.

People they work with: Cardiac surgeons, anesthesiologists, physician assistants, surgical technologists, nurses, and patients of all ages

Where they work: Operating rooms in hospitals and large surgical centers

Career outlook for a cardiovascular perfusionist

Job openings for perfusionists in the U.S. are predicted to climb. One reason is due to the growing number of people aged 65 and older who are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and require open-heart surgery. Secondly, new procedures for many types of heart disease, defects and disorders are also increasing, impacting the need for cardiovascular perfusionists.

With additional training and experience, some perfusionists become administrators, educators, researchers and developers for product manufacturers or move into marketing and sales.

Cardiovascular perfusionist programs at Mayo Clinic

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