Cardiovascular Perfusion

The Cardiovascular Perfusionist operates extracorporeal circulation equipment during any medical procedure in which it is necessary to artificially support or temporarily replace a patient's circulatory or respiratory functions, such as in open heart surgery or other heart procedures. Perfusionists routinely administer various types of blood products, medications and control the temperature of patients during surgery.

Perfusionists, in conjunction with attending physicians, are responsible for the selection of the most appropriate equipment and extracorporeal techniques. They are trained in the administration of blood products and drugs.

Hospitals and large surgical centers are the primary employers of perfusionists.

With additional training and experience, some perfusionists become administrators, educators, researchers and developers for product manufacturers, or move into marketing and sales.

For additional information about the Cardiovascular Perfusion Program at the Medical University of South Carolina go to

Undergraduate Preparation

Preparing for the Future

Your College of Charleston Major

IMPORTANT: Students are urged to plan their schedules with a specific major and general degree requirements at the College of Charleston in mind, in addition to meeting the allied health prerequisites. Students interested in all programs should select a major and work toward a degree at the College. If you are admitted into a program before you graduate, you have not "lost" anything, but if you stay here another year, you will be further along toward a degree. You should be aware that having a Baccalaureate degree weighs favorably in applying to many programs, even if it is not required. Plan your college curriculum as though you have two equal goals---(1st) meeting the allied health requirements and (2nd) earning a degree in a College of Charleston major. There is no "magic major" to insure admission into a program although some clearly provide a better academic preparation and match; you should select an area of inherent interest to you. See the College of Charleston catalog for the General Education Requirements. If you will be at the College during your Junior year, you must declare a College of Charleston major.

Applying to an Allied Health Program

APPLICATION FORMS are available from the admissions office of the school to which you are applying. There may be several options: applying on-line, downloading the form from their web site, requesting that a paper application be sent either by telephoning, visiting in person, or an e-mail request. Each school will provide information on their process. You should apply during summer or early fall for the following academic year. The telephone for MUSC’s Office of Enrollment Services is 843.792.3281. The MUSC application requires you to assemble all of your materials and submit them as a packet; you should allow ample time to complete this important process and also submit it as early as possible. Deadlines may be shifted to an earlier date than in prior years or as listed in this publication. Some programs have "rolling admissions" where they accept the application at any time, but you are still urged to submit early.

You should BE SURE YOUR APPLICATION FILE IS COMPLETE by the deadline. Materials occasionally go astray. Allow plenty of time for transcripts, letters of reference, etc., to be sent or submitted to you. Use a full and correct address for all correspondence. Put your identification number on all items. Specify clearly for which program you are applying. Keep a copy of what you send. After sufficient time has passed that your file should be complete, check to be sure it is. If not, track down the missing items [i.e. check with your references for letters of reference, the registrar for transcripts, etc.] and follow up until your file is complete. If the items were sent, it is possible the receiving office has filed them incorrectly. If all your efforts fail or if you receive no notification of the action taken on your application, see your advisor. MUSC is now using "self-completing" applications, which require you to send much of the material with your application. Be sure to allow at least two weeks (preferably longer) for your references to be written (but don't hesitate to remind your referee you are waiting for it).

Some applications require an ESSAY as a very important part of your packet. Keep a journal of your volunteer and/or relevant work experience. Start preparing early by jotting down points you might like to make in your essay-as they occur to you. Referring to your journal will be much easier than staring at a blank piece of paper waiting for inspiration!!! Examples include: your unique qualities that make you well suited to your chosen profession, work or volunteer experiences, how you reached your decision, people or incidents which influenced your choice, why you want to enter this field (besides the fact that you "want to help people"), special interests or aptitudes, and other ideas which may be appropriate for your essay. Record daily your impressions, emotions, personal reactions, etc., and not just a list of what you did. Then when it is time to write, you can select your strongest points and organize them into an essay which will make the admissions committee take notice. If the essay is part of the interview process (as it is for some programs) instead of part of the application packet, this exercise may still be valuable in preparing for the interview.

STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES are weighted heavily in the determination of your acceptance into most programs at MUSC. MUSC uses the highest score from a single sitting in the ranking process, so that you may take it more than once (after sufficient time has lapsed) without penalty if necessary.

Master’s programs typically require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)-General Test. The GRE-General Test covers Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. MUSC still uses SAT scores only for the Bachelor’s degree programs (i.e. Perfusion Technology), but you should remain alert to the possibility that these may also switch to the GRE. The MUSC College of Health Professions does not require the AHAT (Allied Health Admissions Test), a GRE-Subject Test or MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). For more information on the GRE, see the GRE website.

Packets for the GRE are available in the Office of Career Services or the Graduate Program office. The GRE General Test is offered in a computerized form. The computer-based tests can be scheduled year-round, subject to site availability, and must be taken in time for the scores to reach the admissions office by the application deadline. Make your appointment well in advance to take the computer-version test since the slots fill up rapidly, especially during the busiest months of November through January. Be sure to use test prep materials designed specifically for the computer test if you are taking the computer-based test. Test prep assistance is available from several sources, including the College Skills Lab, Educational Testing Service (which administers the GRE), test prep books and computer programs, as well as (sometimes very expensive) commercial prep courses. Remember that the best preparation of all is to develop your skills throughout your academic career, but preparation for the style of testing can be beneficial.

Other institutions may have different policies from MUSC; you should learn what they are well in advance so you have time to meet the requirements.

Tests and Application

Tests and Application

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

For detailed information on the GRE, visit

The GRE® (Graduate Record Examination) General Test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and critical thinking and analytical writing skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study. The GRE® Subject Tests gauge undergraduate achievement in eight specific fields of study and is often required for admission into a master's degree program.


Design an Academic Plan

It is important to know your timetable and plan accordingly.


Fall Semester

Declare a major and get an advisor. Make sure to identify that you are a pre-health profession student on the major declaration form. Make an appointment with your advisor to discuss professional goals and determine an academic game plan to ensure you will have taken all courses needed to prepare for standardized admissions tests in your field of interest by the time you take the exam (usually the beginning of your Junior year). Make an appointment with the Health Professions Advisor

Spring Semester

Discuss your academic progress with your advisor. Search for summer jobs and volunteer opportunities in your field of interest.

First Summer

Shadow a perfusionist and work/volunteer to gain insight into your career choice.



Fall Semester

Meet with your advisor to discuss your Spring schedule. Establish a list of potential schools to which you will apply and identify all prerequisite courses to discuss with your advisor. Continue volunteer work in your field to whatever degree manageable during the academic year.

Spring Semester

Discuss your academic progress with your advisor and adjust your academic plan, as needed. Explore career options and alternatives, if your GPA is not adequate or your career interests have changed. A 2.5 GPA will be considered, but a 3.0 will make you more competitive. If you are on the 2-year plan, the applications for the perfusion program are accepted once a year for fall admission. Go to for deadlines and application procedures)You will want to apply as early as possible to enhance your chances for acceptance.

Second Summer

Work/volunteer to gain insight of your career choice. Get involved in the community.

For students on the 2-year plan, if you are offered a position in the perfusion program, you can leave the College of Charleston and complete the requirements for your professional degree at MUSC. If for some reason, you are not offered a position, you can work towards completion of your undergraduate degree at C of C and apply again later. When applying to competitive academic programs, you should always have a "Plan B".



 Fall Semester

Meet with your advisor to discuss Spring schedule. Get organized, order review booklets and practice tests to prepare for standardized exams. Explore various professional schools and determine to which ones you will apply.

Spring Semester

Discuss your academic progress with your advisor.  Meet with the chair of the Health Professions Committee to determine if your GPA is competitive and whether or not this is the year you should apply to professional school. (Click Here to email the chair of the Health Profession Committee).

Establish a file with the College's Health Professions Committee (forms are available under Health Profession committee services). Start worksheets for on-line centralized application services and/or request applications from schools that do not participate in the centralized application process.

Collect materials needed to fill in application and start working on application essay. Apply and study for standardized admissions tests.  Check the deadlines and do not miss them. Practice, practice, practice taking the standardized admissions test. Take the standardized admissions test and request that scores be released to the College of Charleston, schools to which you are applying and the application service (if appropriate). Request letters of evaluation from faculty and health professionals who know you well. Make sure to provide each of them with a signed Faculty evaluation form.

Third Summer

Continue to work/volunteer in your field of interest and community outreach projects. Complete your applications and submit early.  Early decision program applications must be submitted to the schools by August 1st. Complete your file for the Health Professions Committee.  Supply the committee with a copy of your personal statement from your application. Retake standardized admissions tests, if necessary.



Fall Semester

Meet with your advisor.  Get a degree audit and apply for graduation. Make sure your Health Professions Committee File is complete and all your letters of evaluation have been submitted. Respond promptly to requests for secondary applications from each professional school. Prepare for interviews. Interview and wait. Search for sources of financial aid.

Spring Semester

Send updated transcripts directly to the professional schools to which you have applied. Wait for decisions. Be sure to let the chair of the Health Professions Committee know the final outcome. Discuss alternatives with your advisor.  Meet with the chair of the Health Professions Committee to develop a strategy for reapplying, if necessary.

Letters of Recommendation


As part of the application process to any program, you will be required to provide letters of reference (usually 3). Different programs may ask for these letters to come from specific individuals, such as science professors and a medical professional. Check with the schools to which you will be applying to make sure that you are satisfying their criteria. If the application is done online, there are usually recommendation forms provided. You want to make sure the appropriate forms accompany any letters that are submitted on your behalf. Not using the recommended forms can delay processing of your application.

Online Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be a science major to go to become a perfusionist?

No. Your major is not important as long as you complete the pre-requisite course work to satisfy the admissions requirements and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.

Will majoring in science give me an advantage in applying to a perfusion program?

Not necessarily. Most perfusion programs are looking for well rounded students who have an aptitude for science. They do not give preference to science majors.

Should I minor or take a double major?

Only if you are truly interested in another field of study. There is no evidence that those students who have a second major or minor have a better chance of accepted than those who do not.

Can I take required courses in the summer and/or at another institution?

In general, it is best to take your required courses at your primary academic institution and during the regular school session. Professional schools want to know that a student can handle science courses while taking a normal academic load. If you have a compelling reason, for taking a course during the summer, for example to be able to get the proper course sequence, then do so. You should try, at least, to take the course at your primary institution or one with equivalent academic rigor. Taking your science courses in a piecemeal fashion and at a two-year institution may be looked on with suspicion by health professions schools. You should also check with the appropriate department to see that the credits from another institution will transfer.

Can I get into a perfusion program in less than 4 years?

Yes, students at the College of Charleston can complete 60 SH of transfer credits, or an undergraduate degree in their chosen major, and apply to professional schools.


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