Thirty-two percent of practicing perfusionists have a graduate degree, however more than 50 percent of graduating perfusionists in 2017 are from graduate level programs. In order to remain competitive, access to graduate level education in this profession is needed. There is only one post professional program currently in the U.S and over 3000 perfusionists with only an undergraduate degree. Many hospitals are trying to increase the educational level of nurses because hospitals recognize that higher educational levels are associated with decreases in mortality, readmission rates, and length of stay. Improvements in outcomes following cardiac surgery would also be expected to occur if the educational level of graduating perfusionists is increased, similar to the effect seen in nursing. The demand for cardiac-related services is expected to grow by 20 percent between 2013 and 2025 as the population ages. There is also an increased complexity of surgical procedures due to the large number of elderly and very young patients (less than 1 month of age) with significant medical conditions now undergoing cardiac procedures. These high risk patients have an increased risk of mortality and morbidity following surgery. A high level health care practitioner is necessary to insure that high quality evidence-based care is delivered. A recent needs assessment survey identified leadership training as an important area for additional training at the graduate level. We have included courses on leadership, quality improvement, and informatics to fulfill that demand.
The program allows working perfusionists who have completed an AC-PE accredited perfusion education program the opportunity to advance their educational and professional goals.
New technologies and surgical procedures require that practicing certified cardiovascular perfusionists (C.C.P.) have an increased knowledge base for managing both neonates and elderly patients with complex medical conditions as well as the application of new cardiac assist devices. Leadership skills are becoming more essential as an increased number of practicing cardiovascular perfusionists attain leadership roles.
This graduate level program will provide a plan of study that includes coursework and a capstone research project that is designed to address these requirements. Courses are available through a variety of distance learning technologies (asynchronous online activities, independent reading, and projects).