During cardiac surgery, a perfusionist operates a heart-lung machine to propel oxygenated blood to the patient’s tissues while the surgeon operates on the heart. The perfusionist manages the physiological and metabolic demands of the patient while the cardiac surgeon operates on the heart. It is also the perfusionist’s responsibility to deliver the drug that stops the heart.

A perfusionist generally spends 90% of their time in the Operating Room (OR) suite for cardiac cases, but now may also find their responsibilities extending to areas such as the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CIVICU) and catheterization laboratory. A perfusionist must have a thorough understanding of both the respiratory and circulatory system and be able to operate complex equipment.

CSU Recommended Coursework

These courses are provided as GENERAL pre-requisites and may not represent a complete list of requirements.  It is the student’s responsibility to check with each professional school in order to determine specific pre-requisites courses and equivalencies for each institution.
Requirement Recommended CSU Course(s)
General Biology (2 semesters w/ labs) LIFE102 and one additional lab-based biology class
General Chemistry (2 semesters w/ labs) CHEM111/112 and CHEM113/114
Human Anatomy (1 semester) BMS 301
Physiology (1 semester) BMS 300, BMS 302 OR BMS 360
Physics (2 semesters) PH121 & PH122 OR PH141 & pH142
Behavioral Science (2 semesters) PSY, SOC, HDFS or ANTH course codes
Mathematics (1 semester) STAT301, STAT307 or MATH155 or 3 credits of PACE courses
English Composition (2 semesters) CO150, Advanced Writing, English
Recommended Courses SPCM200, CHEM245/246 OR CHEM341/343/344, BC351, BZ310 OR LIFE210/212


Programs and Preparation

Admissions Tests

Graduate-level programs typically require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
Bachelor-level programs typically do not require an entrance exam

Application Services

Apply to accredited programs individually