In the United States, only 21 schools have programs to educate students for a career in perfusion. All these schools combined graduate about 140 students per year. The programs vary in their entry requirements and in length. They also confer different types of educational credentials upon completion.
For_some programs, applicants need only 60 to 80 semester hours of college credits, including prerequisite science courses. For others, a bachelor’s degree with similar course prerequisites is needed. Still others look for a combination of education and experience in a health-related occupation. Most perfusion programs require 20 to 24 months of study; some require less.
Program graduates may earn a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a certificate in perfusion science. The choice of a program depends partly on where people are in their education when they decide on a career in perfusion.
Sometimes, medical assistants, nurses, paramedics, or other healthcare workers choose to become perfusionists. They may already have a bachelor’s degree, so they may opt for a master’s or a certificate program in perfusion. Others may decide on this career in high school or early in college, so they may specialize sooner, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the field. Today, students who complete perfusion programs typically take a written exam administered by the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion to receive professional certification. The board requires continuing education credits and handling at least 40 perfusion cases each year to renew certification. Some States license perfusionists, but licensure may depend primarily on having board certification.