Practice meta-environment of the cardiovascular perfusionist
Though historically the development of cardiovascular perfusion grew out of the need for cardiopulmonary bypass, the application of technologies of extracorporeal support has more recently expanded beyond the traditional domain of the cardiac surgical operative and peri-operative environment. As a result, perfusionists are sometimes required to work in novel clinical settings. As part of our recent national survey to evaluate the effects of changes in entry-to-practice criteria introduced in Canada in 2006, we asked perfusionists if their current position as a perfusionist involves work outside the OR. We found that, in addition to regularly working in the Intensive Care Unit and Cardiac Catheterization Lab, 55.3% of respondents reported working “occasionally” in the Emergency Room and 74.7% reported working “occasionally” or “often” in other clinical areas. However, while 96% of respondents believed their training adequately prepared them for their job as a perfusionist, only 68% felt their training adequately prepared them for their duties outside the operating room. We also noted a trend that admission under experience-based entry-to-practice criteria was associated with a higher likelihood of perceived adequacy of training in preparation for duties outside the OR than education-based admission criteria (72% vs 59.4%, p=0.065). These findings raise important questions pertaining to the sufficiency of perfusion education in Canada and the influence of soft skills in preparing perfusionists for their duties, and indicate that a systematic study of the practice environment of cardiovascular perfusionists is timely.