The BCIT Cardiovascular Perfusion program is one of only three of its kind in Canada. A cardiac perfusionist is a key member of a highly specialized surgical team. Cardiovascular perfusionists work in operating rooms, providing life-saving support to patients undergoing heart surgery. It's a serious job, and our graduates are ready.
About the program
At BCIT, we believe in real life experience and provide practical, hands-on training. Our students come from the cardiac field with the passion and work experience to succeed at this intensive program.
- Two-year advanced specialty certificate
- One year of distance and online learning means you can keep working while you study
- One year of clinical rotations provides direct learning
- Full spectrum of courses includes cardiothoracic anatomy, pathophysiology, pharmacology, fetal and neonatal cardiac development, and perfusion science
- Outcomes of the Cardiovascular Perfusion program are designed to meet the competencies outlined in the National Entry-Level Competency profile of The Canadian Society of Clinical Perfusion
Visit Program Details for more information on our program structure and clinical rotation.
Who it’s for
This program is for certified respiratory therapists, critical care nurses, cardiac professionals or related degree graduates, who:
- Have two years or more of current experience in cardiac critical care
- Have completed a bachelor’s degree (preferably a Bachelor of Science) and the required prerequisite courses
- Thrive in fast-paced, high-stress team environments and are able to think fast on the go
- Have a high level of sensitivity and care for patients
- Are willing to work long hours and on an on-call schedule
Interested in working in this specialized field of cardiac care? Entrance Requirements to find out how and when to apply.
What grads can do
Cardiovascular perfusionists are integral members of an expert cardiac surgical team. See Graduating and Jobs to learn more.
Note: In alignment with public health orders, this program requires that students be vaccinated for a number of communicable diseases – including COVID-19.
The Advanced Certificate in Cardiovascular Perfusion program is two years in length, consisting of a first year of online learning, followed by a second year of full-time clinical rotations.
The first academic year consists of three semesters of online distance courses. During this year students gain the fundamental knowledge required for entry to the clinical rotations. A strong understanding of cardiothoracic anatomy, physiology and pharmacology is essential knowledge in order to grasp the physical principles of perfusion science. An emphasis on cardiothoracic pathophysiology, as well as surgical techniques, is introduced early in order to prepare for clinical. Students are expected to spend approximately 15-20 hours/week completing coursework, including online group discussions, instructor-directed problem solving/quizzes, and peer-reviewed lectures.
Upon successful completion of the first year, students enter an intensive, full-time, 45-week clinical rotation where they train alongside qualified clinical perfusionists in the hospital setting, using the experience to complete clearly defined clinical year objectives. The majority of this clinical year is spent learning the theoretical and practical application of safe cardiopulmonary bypass, as well as taking part in class days, wet lab work, lectures and student presentations. Students are taught to communicate effectively with members of the health care team, patients and their families.
Students learn to use reason, analysis, calculations, problem solving, critical thinking, and other learning skills to acquire knowledge, and to comprehend and synthesize complex situations. Students must be prepared for achieving and maintaining a high level of knowledge and clinical competence, as well as having a distinct awareness of the consequence of error in judgment and/or skill. Under supervision, students are assessed on how safely and effectively they work in often stressful situations.
Clinical site rotations are assigned to students by BCIT faculty. Although student input is used for site assignments, there is no guarantee that all learners will receive their preferred placements.
Site assignments require that students travel and make arrangements for accommodation in out of town sites according to the length of each rotation. The duration of the clinical courses are two and three weeks (two courses) and 14 weeks (two courses) and 15 weeks (one course). Complete clinical schedules will be available to students three months prior to beginning the clinical year.
The hospitals listed below will provide clinical placements:
Clinical site partners
BC Children’s Hospital
Foothills Medical Centre
Kelowna General Hospital
Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute
St. Boniface Hospital
St. Paul’s Hospital
Vancouver General Hospital
Graduating & Jobs
Our graduates get work
As the need for cardiovascular and open-heart surgeries increases, jobs are opening up across Canada for cardiovascular perfusionists. Many of our grads are offered work in their sponsored hospitals after they graduate.
Students graduate as cardiovascular perfusionists ready to work as members of cardiac surgical teams in hospital operating rooms. Positions in BC start at approximately $49 per hour.
Visit the professional association website to learn more about the work perfusionists do and to find career opportunities:
Program Details FAQ
- What are the working conditions and physical requirements of a career in Cardiovascular Perfusion?
- Can I work during the program?
- Where will lab classes take place?
- I do not live in the Greater Vancouver area. Will I be expected to come to the lab classes?
- May I choose where my clinical placements are located?
- Am I responsible for costs throughout the clinical placement?
- What is the approximate cost of tuition for the whole program?
- Are there any breaks in the program?
Program Admission FAQ
- How competitive is the selection process? How many applicants do you receive?
- How can I make my application more competitive?
- How do I find out if courses I have taken, or plan to take, will be equivalent to the minimum requirements?
- Can I apply to the program while I’m working on meeting the prerequisites, or do I need to wait until all are complete?
- What if I have the prerequisites but they are from more than five years ago?
- I want to apply under Option 2. May I register for more than one CARD course in the same term?
- Do you consider GPA within the selection process?
- What can I do to prepare myself for success in the selection process?
- What constitutes direct patient care experience? How can I fulfill this requirement?
- What type of volunteer or work experience does not satisfy the requirement for direct patient care experience (equivalent to CARD 1186)?
Program Details FAQ
What are the working conditions and physical requirements of a career in Cardiovascular Perfusion?
Being a perfusionist involves:
- Shift work, including work on weekends, holidays, and overtime.
- Being able to work long hours.
- Managing stressful situations during cardiac procedures by utilizing
a high level of skill and decision-making whilst monitoring and operating complex
- Heavy lifting at times to move equipment or transfer patients.
- Good manual dexterity and eye/hand coordination to operate extracorporeal and blood-related equipment.
Can I work during the program?
This is a very demanding program. Whilst it is possible to work during the didactic year, working during the clinical year is unlikely to be feasible. Any work hours must accommodate mandatory labs and full-time clinical rotations.
Where will lab classes take place?
The Perfusion lab is located at the BCIT Aerospace Technology Campus (ATC), on Sea Island, in Richmond, BC.
I do not live in the Greater Vancouver area. Will I be expected to come to the lab classes?
Yes. All students must attend lab classes. Full-time lab classes are scheduled during didactic terms 1 and 3, as well as at the beginning of each clinical practicum rotation. The lab residency prior to a student’s first clinical rotation is five weeks’ long.
May I choose where my clinical placements are located?
BCIT arranges clinical training for the student. Students will be asked to provide their preferences for clinical placements, but there is no guarantee that they will be assigned to their preferences.
Am I responsible for costs throughout the clinical placements?
You are responsible for all personal expenses, including food, accommodation, and transportation throughout the clinical practicum. No stipend is available for any portion of this program.
What is the approximate cost of tuition for the whole program?
Note: This is an estimate only based on the tuition fees paid by students from the last intake of the program. If all tuition costs and fees are added up over the whole two-year program, the cost would be approximately $21,000. Perfusion students pay tuition fees one term at a time. Course registration and tuition payments occur on a course-by-course basis.
Are there any breaks in the program?
In addition to the Christmas and spring breaks between didactic terms, there will be one, one week, break scheduled between clinical rotations.
Program Admission FAQ
How competitive is the selection process? How many applications do you receive?
Admission to the program is highly competitive. We expect to receive over 40 complete applications each year. For every seat in the program, there are more than six applicants who have met all the entrance requirements. Meeting minimum entrance requirements does not guarantee you will be selected for the next stage of the competitive entry process.
How do I find out if courses I have taken, or plan to take, will be equivalent to the minimum requirements?
First contact BCIT Program Advising. In rare cases for which Program Advising is not able to provide guidance as to the equivalency of specific courses, you must seek out the detailed course outlines, including course learning outcomes and assessment criteria, from the other post-secondary institution. Email the official course outlines as an attachment to a message that explains your inquiry to Perfusion@bcit.ca.
How can I make my application more competitive?
The questionnaire that is included with the application should exhibit thoughtful, articulate answers to all questions, as these are carefully reviewed in the selection of candidates.
In addition to completing all of the required prerequisites, successful applicants typically have the following profile:
- Post-secondary education with a focus on human anatomy and physiology and/or health
- Strong and consistent academic performance
- Recent and sustained work or volunteer experience involving direct patient care, ideally in acute care
- Demonstration of a clear understanding of the profession and the program
- Excellent communication skills
Can I apply to the program while I’m working on meeting the
prerequisites, or do I need to wait until all are complete?
All academic courses should be completed prior to application submission. Midterm grades are not accepted.
What if I have the prerequisites but they are from more than five years ago?
With the exception of English, it is highly recommended (but not required) for course work to have been completed within five years of the program start date. Remember that the selection process is extremely competitive.
I want to apply under Option 2. May I register for more than one CARD course in the same term?
Yes. Although passing CARD 1103 with over 60% is the recommended prerequisite to CARD 1186, future applicants to the Perfusion program under Option 2 are able to take these courses concurrently. Registrants are responsible for determining their own capacity to successfully manage an academic course load.
Do you consider GPA within the selection process?
A strong GPA is preferred in that it shows an aptitude for post-secondary course work, but numerical grades are just one piece of the larger picture. Successful candidates are well-rounded. Selected applicants often possess consistently strong marks, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree with emphasis on human anatomy and physiology, a demonstrated interest in the field, and relevant recent volunteer or work experience.
What can I do to prepare myself for success in the selection process?
Read the program website completely and carefully, paying particular attention to the ‘Program Entry’ page. This webpage sets out what is required to put together a complete application package.
Ensure that you have researched what it means to be a perfusionist and are aware of the scope of the work involved. The program looks for well-rounded individuals who will be successful both as students and as future cardiovascular perfusionists.
What constitutes direct patient care experience? How can I fulfill this requirement?
Direct patient care experience includes the application of the following types of skills, ideally as an allied health professional within a tertiary hospital setting:
- Assessing patients and collecting relevant patient information prior to a procedure
- Assisting patients with mobility, and transporting patients
- Taking vital signs
- The use of standard precautions and surgical asepsis
If you do not have patient care experience, you can take CARD 1186 or submit official transcripts proving you have completed an equivalent post-secondary course focusing on patient care.
What type of volunteer or work experience does not satisfy the requirement for direct patient care experience (equivalent to CARD 1186)?
Examples of experiences that have failed to constitute direct patient-care (as described in the above question) include:
- Volunteering as a Greeter or WayFinder at a hospital
- Volunteering in the hospital gift shop
- Working as a Medical Office Assistant (MOA)
- Providing home care to a family member
The experiences listed above, and others, are admirable and should be included in your written questionnaire. However, it is also recommended that they be supplemented by CARD 1186 or an equivalent patient care course.
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