When I leave school I want to be... a clinical perfusionist

When I leave school I want to be... a clinical perfusionist

Do you want to inspire your pupils about science? Why not tell them about science jobs they (and you) may never have heard about before?

Inspired by the relaunch of the Future Morph website with its excellent careers advice section, we decided to profile some science jobs you may never have encountered before to help you inspire your students.  Some are relatively normal, while others are definitely not for the faint hearted.

These articles will also provide links to teaching resources and ideas for classroom activities and experiments.

Last time we looked at the mud-filled career of a marine palaeoclimatologist.

This time let's look at something a bit more gory...

2. Clinical Perfusion Scientist (Perfusionist)

Everyone has heard of surgeons.  Maybe you even know someone who has had to go into hospital to have some sort of heart surgery.  But have you ever thought about the person whose job it is to keep you alive while they are fiddling around inside you?

If you want to find out some facts about the heart before we begin, click here.

Way back in 1812 (that's 200 years ago!) a man called Caeser Le Gallois suggested the idea of a machine to replace the heart.  141 years later Dr John Gibbon performed the first successful open heart surgery using a heart-lung machine.


A clinical perfusionist is the person who is in charge of the heart-lung machine during a heart operation while the surgeons are doing all the slicing and dicing.  It is his or her job to make sure that the patient's blood keeps being pumped around their body and that they are getting enough oxygen.

That's quite a lot of responsibility!

Why not have a go at the British Heart Foundation's heart surgery game to see if you have what it takes to work in an operating theatre by clicking here.


There's plenty more on the CBHF website to look at as well.  Follow this link more information, games and more : CBHF Website

So, what kind of person do you need to be to become a perfusionist?

  • You need to be able to work under a lot of pressure as part of a team
  • You would need to be able to concentrate for long periods of time, sometimes working in the middle of the night
  • You need to be ready to jump into action at any time of day or night whenever your beeper tells you that your skills are needed at the hospital
  • You need to have a strong stomach - no fainting allowed when the surgeons start to cut open the patient!
  • You need to be prepared to study hard and go to university. When you start a job as a perfusionist the training carries on as you learning all the skills you need to keep someone alive when their heart isn't pumping

Finally, why should I become a clinical perfusionist?

  • What could be better than going home knowing that you have helped to save a persons life, or make it better in an amazing way?
  • Once you have trained as a clinical scientist there are all sorts of other jobs that you can think about doing in hospitals, universities and in the business world

More weird and wonderful careers ideas will be coming soon to Planet Science, so subscribe to our newsletter and we can keep you posted.