Cardiovascular Perfusion Technology involves the study of physiology, pathology and associated equipment used to support and/or assume the function of the heart and/or lungs during medical procedures. The perfusion technologist prepares and operates the heart-lung machine and other sophisticated equipment as directed by healthcare physicians. The perfusionist measures various blood and other parameters to identify appropriate mechanical, pharmacological and thermal manipulation to maintain tissue viability. To perform these tasks the perfusionist must have a thorough understanding of the both respiratory and circulatory systems and be able to operate complex equipment. Additionally the perfusionist must be capable of handling stressful situations, pay great attention to detail, communicate effectively, and be willing to stay abreast of new developments in the profession.
While most perfusionists are employed by medical centers they may also be hired by individual surgeons, or perfusion companies. Clinical perfusion often requires on-call responsibilities at night, on weekends and holidays. Perfusionists also work in educational institutions as teachers and/or researchers. Further, some perfusionists are hired by industry that manufacture various perfusion related supplies and equipment.