Effects of a change in entry-to-practice criteria for cardiovascular perfusion in Canada: results of a national survey

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Years of experience and level of education are two important determinants of a clinician’s expertise. While entry-to-practice criteria for admission to perfusion training in Canada changed from clinical experience-based criteria to education-based criteria in 2006, the effects of these changes have not been studied.


To determine the academic and clinical backgrounds of perfusionists in Canada, ascertain perceptions about the adequacy of training and evaluate the effects of the changes on the composition of the perfusion community of Canada.


An electronic questionnaire was distributed to all practicing perfusionists in Canada, addressing details regarding clinical experience, academic education and perceptions about the adequacy of training.


Two hundred and twenty-eight questionnaires were completed, representing a 72% response rate. Perfusionists admitted under academic-based criteria have significantly higher levels of education (100% degree holders vs 69.1%, p<0.001), but less antecedent clinical training and experience (median, IQR: 0, 0 – 4.5 years vs 2, 2 – 8 years, p<0.0001), are younger (median age range 31-35 years vs 51-55 years, p<0.0001), more likely to be female (58.7% vs 41.3%, p=0.006) and are significantly more likely to enter perfusion because of attraction to the type of work (p=0.045). Many perfusionists (70, 32%) in Canada believe themselves inadequately trained for their clinical assignments outside the OR. In addition, 19% of perfusionists plan to retire over the next 10 years.


The introduction of education-based entry criteria has changed the academic and clinical experience levels of perfusionists in Canada. Strategies designed to better prepare perfusionists for their clinical assignments outside the OR are merited.

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