Clinical perfusion scientists operate heart-lung equipment during surgical operations to ensure breathing and blood circulation. They work as part of the surgical team, connect patients to the heart-lung machines in preparation for surgery, monitor their condition during surgery, report to the team on the patients’ status and determine the necessary techniques according to their needs.
The duties of a clinical perfusion scientist include, but are not limited to:
- Administrative duties, including equipment monitoring and maintenance, management of entry-level clinical perfusion scientists and purchasing equipment and supplies
- Assessing medical histories of patients to fully prepare for upcoming surgeries
- Administering medications and blood products to patients during surgical procedures through heart-lung bypass machines
- Operation of heart-lung machines, intra-aortic blood pumps, ventricular assistance devices and blood transfusion machines
- Monitoring and assessing vital signs and physiologic functions throughout surgical procedures to ensure patient safety
The following job titles also refer to clinical perfusion scientist:
medical perfusion scientist
clinical perfusion technician
clinical perfusion expert
medical perfusion technician
medical perfusion expert
Clinical perfusion scientists work with many professionals like surgeons, anaesthesists, cardiologists, nurses, and other health professionals to ensure the patient is healthy throughout heart surgeries. They are expected to be up to date with the patient’s medical history and current health status.
Medical centers or third-party perfusion companies most often employ clinical perfusion scientists. Typically, scientists are scheduled to work a regular 40-hour week, but also must be on call on some nights, weekends and holidays. Depending on the program, call responsibilities can be rigorous. In busier facilities that perform a large number of open heart surgeries, perfusion scientists may work in shifts to ensure that a trained perfusionist is available 24 hours a day.
Due to the nature of their work, clinical perfusion scientists should have a solid mental and physical stamina, and a strong ability to stay completely focused during lengthy medical procedures
A bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology or a medicine-related field is generally required to work as a clinical perfusion scientist. Some perfusionists choose to get a master’s degree. Depending on the location or the employer, a certification in clinical perfusion may be required too.
Clinical perfusion scientists are trained on-the-job. Their training consists mostly of up to a certain level of perfusion under the supervision of a more senior clinical perfusion scientist.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Clinical perfusion scientist is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Clinical perfusion scientist career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to clinical perfusion scientist.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of clinical perfusion scientist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of clinical perfusion scientist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of clinical perfusion scientist.
- Hygiene in a health care setting: The procedures related to maintaining a hygienic environment within a health care setting such as hospitals and clinics. It can range from hand washing to cleaning and disinfection of medical equipment used and infection control methods.
- Health care legislation: The patients` rights and responsibilities of health practitioners and the possible repercussions and prosecutions in relation to medical treatment negligence or malpractice.
- Medical terminology: The meaning of medical terms and abbreviations, of medical prescriptions and various medical specialties and when to use it correctly.
- Clinical perfusion: The health science related to the artificial pumping of blood and oxygen in a person’s body, also known as extra-corporeal circulation.
- Resuscitation: The emergency procedure applied to individuals with no pulse to restore them to consciousness.
- Human anatomy: The dynamic relationship of human structure and function and the muscosceletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, endocrine, urinary, reproductive, integumentary and nervous systems; normal and altered anatomy and physiology throughout the human lifespan.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of clinical perfusion scientist.
- Contribute to continuity of health care: Contribute to the delivery of coordinated and continuous healthcare.
- Operate breathing equipment: Operate breathing equipment and machines to ensure the patient is administered oxygen during surgery.
- Operate heart-lung machines: Utilise heart-lung machines to pump blood and oxygen through the patient’s body. Ensure patients are safe and correctly connected to the machine before surgery. Operate the heart-lung machine during surgery and monitor the patients vital functions. Disconnect the equipment after surgery.
- Communicate effectively in healthcare: Communicate effectively with patients, families and other caregivers, health care professionals, and community partners.
- Comply with quality standards related to healthcare practice: Apply quality standards related to risk management, safety procedures, patients feedback, screening and medical devices in daily practice, as they are recognized by the national professional associations and authorities.
- Comply with legislation related to health care: Comply with the regional and national legislation that is relevant to one`s work and apply it in practice.
- Apply health sciences: Apply a broad range of bio-medical, psycho-social, organisational, educational, and societal aspects of health, disease, and healthcare to improve healthcare services and to improve quality of life.
- Conceptualise healthcare user’s needs: Get an idea of what the healthcare user needs are and visualise the case, the possible solutions, and treatments to be applied.
- Ensure safety of healthcare users: Make sure that healthcare users are being treated professionally, effectively and safe from harm, adapting techniques and procedures according to the person’s needs, abilities or the prevailing conditions.
- Apply context specific clinical competences: Apply professional and evidence based assessment, goal setting, delivery of intervention and evaluation of clients, taking into account the developmental and contextual history of the clients, within one`s own scope of practice.
- Work in multidisciplinary health teams: Participate in the delivery of multidisciplinary health care, and understand the rules and competences of other healthcare related professions.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of clinical perfusion scientist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Emergency surgery: The characteristics and methods of a surgical intervention performed in emergency cases.
- Surgery: The essential procedures in surgical practice such as the principle of safe surgery, the pathophysiology of wound healing, knot tying, tissue handling, retraction and any other instruments and procedures used in the operating room.
- Rehabilitation of all organ systems: The principles of physical medicine and rehabilitation of all organ systems as related to physiotherapy.
- Medical informatics: The processes and tools used for the analysis and dissemination of medical data through computerized systems.
- Transplantation: The principles of organ and tissue transplantation, the principles of transplant immunology, immunosuppression, donation and procurement of tissue, and indications for organ transplantation.
- Clinical imaging techniques: The techniques to evaluate image information for clinical manifestations and technical accuracy.
- First aid: The emergency treatment given to a sick or injured person in the case of circulatory and/or respiratory failure, unconsciousness, wounds, bleeding, shock or poisoning.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of clinical perfusion scientist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Respond to changing situations in health care: Cope with pressure and respond appropriately and in time to unexpected and rapidly changing situations in healthcare.
- Provide pre-treatment information: Explain treatment options and possibilities, informing the patients in order to help them make well-balanced decisions.
- Use e-health and mobile health technologies: Use mobile health technologies and e-health (online applications and services) in order to enhance the provided healthcare.
- Interpret medical images: Analyse medical images in order to diagnose illnesses and injuries.
- Manage healthcare users’ data: Keep accurate client records which also satisfy legal and professional standards and ethical obligations in order to facilitate client management, ensuring that all clients’ data (including verbal, written and electronic) are treated confidentially.
- Advise on healthcare users’ informed consent: Ensure patients/clients are fully informed about the risks and benefits of proposed treatments so they can give informed consent, engaging patients/clients in the process of their care and treatment.
- Promote health and safety: Promote the importance of a safe working environment. Coach and support staff to participate actively in the continuous development of a safe working environment.
- Develop a collaborative therapeutic relationship: Develop a mutually collaborative therapeutic relationship during treatment, fostering and gaining healthcare users’ trust and cooperation.
ISCO group and title
3211 – Medical imaging and therapeutic equipment technicians
- Clinical perfusion scientist – ESCO
- Clinical perfusion science | Health Careers
- Perfusionist Job Description | Indeed.com
- Perfusionist | explorehealthcareers.org
- Featured image: By Pfree2014 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0