What does a cardiovascular perfusionist do?
A cardiovascular perfusionist is responsible for operating cardiopulmonary bypass or support machines and monitoring patients that are receiving this type of support, often for the temporary replacement of heart and/or lung function. A perfusionist is a member of an interprofessional healthcare team (surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, etc.) and typically works in an operating room environment. Perfusion technology has expanded over the past decade whereby perfusionists work not only with heart-lung machines during open heart procedures but also with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), blood transfusion devices, intra-aortic balloon pumps, ventricular-assist devices, and more. The role of perfusionists in organ transplantation surgeries also includes the recovery of organs that previously would not have been transplantable.
It is a profession that requires a high degree of skill and critical judgment for patient safety and requires individuals to work under dynamic and at times stressful situations.
Are Perfusionists in demand? Salaries?
As the field of mechanical cardiovascular support grows, so has the need for perfusionists grown. Because of the limited number of perfusion programs nationwide and the significant number of retiring practitioners, systems have been competing for perfusionists for their heart/lung surgeries and their critical care support needs. The shortage of perfusion professionals was brought into even starker contrast by the COVID-19 pandemic when many otherwise salvageable adults are believed to have died due to a lack of ICU beds, a lack of ECMO pumps, and insufficient numbers of perfusionists and personnel trained in extracorporeal support. Therefore, the need for perfusionists is evident in Georgia and nationwide to provide life-saving perfusion services.
Salaries typically vary by level of education, additional skills, years of experience, and geographic region. As of November 2022, Salary.com reported the average perfusionist annual salary to be $148, 375 with the range between $133,847 - $161, 777.
How long is the program?
The CV Perfusion Program is a 5 semester (21 months), 22 course, 65.5 credit hour, full-time only program that requires continuous semester enrollment (Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall, Spring). Enrollment occurs in the fall semester. This program is only offered as full time.
What are the requirements to apply?
Applicants are required to meet admission and prerequisite requirements.
- BA or BS degree in a science or health-related discipline from an accredited university/college.
- Cumulative GPA 3.0 on a scale of 4.0
- Science GPA 3.0
- Completion of all prerequisite courses
- Shadowing experiences are recommended
What prerequisites are required, and do I need official transcripts?
The prerequisites for the CV Perfusion program include seven (7) physical science and math courses completed within 7 years of the application. An additional course in medical terminology is required if the applicant does not have a healthcare background. These courses may be taken at an undergraduate or graduate level. Some community colleges/universities offer a level of course that will not be appropriate for this program. Approval may be requested for a course an applicant is considering taking or for a course the applicant has completed. Refer to the process for Requesting a Prerequisite Course Evaluation in the Nursing Catalog.
Students may apply for admission with the courses in progress, but all prerequisite courses must be complete with a grade of B- or higher by orientation into the program. A mark of pass-fail is not an option for prerequisite courses. All official transcripts must be submitted before classes begin. Students who do not have verification of course completion and an official transcript on file by orientation will be unenrolled from the program. The student may be required to reapply at a future date.
- General Biology with lab
- Anatomy & Physiology I & II with labs (8 semester hours minimum)
- Chemistry 2 courses – Organic and Inorganic with lab (8 semester hours minimum)
- Microbiology with lab (4 semester hours)
- Physics with lab
- Introductory Statistics (3 semester hour minimum)
- College mathematics course – College Algebra, Calculus
- *Students may request an exemption for this course if they have a degree in a healthcare field or have clinical practice
Am I eligible for the program if I have never worked in a healthcare setting?
Applicants who meet the admission requirements but do not have a background in healthcare may apply. Preferred candidates have at least one (1) year of full-time experience as a: nurse/critical care nurse ICU, CCU, ED, OR; physician assistants; respiratory therapist; ECMO technologist; cardiac rehabilitation physiologist; cardiac diagnostic laboratory technologist; or perfusion assistant. Other position descriptions may apply. Contact the program director if you have any questions.
Is shadowing a perfusionist required?
Because of the disruption to healthcare during the pandemic, hospital systems may have added restrictions related to shadowing. While we do not require, we strongly recommend the applicant arrange to shadow a perfusionist and recommend 8-16 hours of observation- varied cases. Shadowing is important to understanding the role of the perfusionist and their role within the team. We do not have the capacity to assist applicants with setting up shadowing experience. Should you have additional questions regarding shadowing please feel free to reach out to the program director.
How many students are you accepting for the program?
We will enroll 15-20 full-time students.
How is the program delivered?
This is an onsite program with classes delivered via face to face instruction. Students will have simulated learning experiences, laboratory/skills experiences, and clinical experiences.
As a new program, is there sufficient equipment and supplies for simulation training?
Our new Emory Nursing Learning Center (ENLC) located in Decatur, GA opened in Fall 2022. Anticipating the launch of the CV Perfusion program, we purchased high-fidelity medical simulation equipment and software to support simulated learning experiences. Additionally, we configured the new OR suite to not only meet the needs of the CV Perfusion program but to allow for interprofessional training with nurse anesthesia, acute care NP, neonatal NPs, medical and other students. The ENLC has skills laboratory space, conference rooms for debriefing, student spaces and more to support students in the program.
What about clinical sites. Will I need to travel?
Students begin clinical rotations in their first semester, increasing the number of hours spent in clinical as they move through the program. At this time, our clinical sites are within the Atlanta-Metro. There may be opportunities for specialty specific learning that would require the student to travel outside the Atlanta-Metro area. For clinicals outside of the Atlanta-Metro region, students would be responsible for transportation costs, housing, meals, and any other expenses incurred.
Is the program accredited?
There are two (2) accrediting bodies we are seeking accreditation from. The first is Emory University accreditation for this program through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The Master of Cardiovascular Perfusion Science program is accredited through SACS.
The second accreditation is through the Accreditation Committee – Perfusion Education (AC-PE), a Committee on Accreditation of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). We are applying for Candidacy status, a step toward accreditation. The Candidacy period is followed by the application for initial accreditation. Students enrolled in a program while the School is on the accreditation trail will graduate from an accredited school. This is the standard process when seeking initial accreditation. Students admitted to the School will sign a waiver acknowledging Candidacy status does not guarantee program accreditation.
What is the tuition? Am I eligible for federal aid programs or scholarships?
Tuition is $1625/credit hours. A $600 perfusion simulation lab technology fee is charged each semester.
Admitted students may apply for federal financial aid as a graduate student to receive need-based aid.
Currently no scholarships are available.
What degree will I earn?
Graduates will hold a Masters in Cardiovascular Perfusion Science (MCPS) degree and be board-eligible to take the certification examination through the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP).
Can international students apply?
Admission is not available for international applicants.