How to Become a Perfusionist

How to Become a Perfusionist

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree & Complete Certificate Program or Complete a Perfusionist Training Program

There are only a few schools that offer programs specifically in cardiovascular perfusion. If you go into one of those programs it would take you 4 years and cover the following topics:

  • Heart-lung bypass for adults, pediatric and neonatal patients
  • Heart surgery
  • Long-term use of heart-lung machines
  • Monitoring patients who are on heart-lung machines
  • Autotransfusion (transfusion of a patient’s own blood)

Admission to a bachelor's degree program may require the completion of about 60-80 credit hours of college coursework, heavy in sciences and courses like pre-med programs.

A course load could look like the following:

Grade Level Example Courses
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • College Algebra & Statistics
  • Introduction to Kinesiology
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Statistics
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology II
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • Applied Kinesiology
  • Athletic Care & Prevention
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Nutrition for Atheletes
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Lower Body Injury Evaluation
  • Athletic Training Clinical I & II
  • Exercise Testing
  • Upper Body Injury Evaluation
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Health in the US
  • Health Education & Planning
  • Healthcare Management
  • Health Policy
  • Capstone
  • Remaining Requirements & Electives

Once you complete a bachelor's program, you must take a certificate course to become a perfusionist.

2. Complete Clinical Training

To be able to get certified, the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP) requires you to have at least 75 supervised perfusions under your belt, after you graduate from college or your perfusionist Program.

So, you must get clinical training to get this experience and enable you to take the certification exam. Many times you can combine the clinical training with your under-grad course work.

3. Earn the Required Certification

Now, you can finally get certified. The ABCP offers the certification examination twice a year. The exam is a written, two-part, multiple choice exam that covers 11 subjects.

Section Breakdown
Part 1
  • Pharmacology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
Part 2
  • Lab Analysis
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Quality Assurance

You can take all sections on the same day or schedule them on different dates.

4. Earn the Required License

You may have to get a state license in some states. It varies and often depends on your certification through the ABCP. You must contact your local licensing board to find what is required in your area.

5. Maintain Certification Through Continuing Education

The ABCP requires perfusionists to get re-certified every year. You must perform a minimum of 40 cases of clinical activity and get at least 15 continuing education credits every 3 years.