A certified clinical perfusionist (C.C.P.) also known as a clinical perfusionist or a cardiovascular perfusionist is a health professional who specializes in operating heart-lung machines used during heart by-pass cardiac surgery or any surgery that requires cardiopulmonary bypass.
C.C.P.s consult with doctors prior to surgery to obtain information about the patients general and cardiac medical history. C.C.P.s then assist surgeons by keeping a patients blood pumping during open-heart or organ transplant surgery. The machines they use circulate oxygenate and purify the patients blood. They are also in charge of checking for defects in the equipment prior to surgery.
For complex surgeries two perfusionists are often put in charge to ensure a patients safety because errors or defects in the machinery could result in severe damage to the patient or even death.
With regard to education the American Academy of Cardiovascular Perfusion (AACP) requires a 4-year bachelors degree preferably with a major in biology or another science. This is followed by a training program in a hospital that must be affiliated with an academic medical center during which individuals complete 150 procedures. Finally aspiring C.C.P.s must pass a certification exam administered by the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP). Being a C.C.P. career is one of the more lucrative non-nursing non-physician clinical medical careers.
According to Payscale.com the annual pay for certified clinical perfusionists in the United States ranges from approximately $77000 to $117000. Those in management roles such as a Director of Clinical Perfusion in a hospital can expect to earn well over $100000 per year.