Each year, 350,000 people require open-heart surgery and related cardiovascular perfusion support. These procedures require a knowledgeable team of perfusionists, who play a critical role in the surgical team. The perfusion industry, however, is facing a serious shortage of qualified professionals and it is a problem that needs to be addressed to ensure patients continue to receive quality care. A perfusionist operates the heart-lung bypass machine during surgery to maintain the patient’s blood flow and lung function while the surgeon is operating. Although it’s an important profession, and one that is incredibly rewarding, it’s not a well-known career option to those with a science or medical background. Unfortunately, we’re not generating enough new graduates to fill the void of perfusionists leaving the field. For example, in 2017, around 280 people left the profession but there were only 180 entry-level perfusionists taking their place. This 35 percent attrition rate proves we need to do everything possible to grow and support a new generation of perfusionists.
How SpecialtyCare is Addressing the Perfusionist Shortage
As the leading provider of perfusion services, SpecialtyCare is taking several steps to combat the perfusionist shortage. We are determined to drive awareness to the perfusion industry as both a vital medical service and a smart career choice. One major initiative for SpecialtyCare is to take some of the financial burden away for students in perfusion school. We are thrilled to offer the Brown-Brukardt Perfusion Scholarship Program for the third year and to announce some additions to the program. SpecialtyCare will increase the number of available scholarships from two to four this year. Three awards will be reserved for students currently enrolled in a CAAHEP-accredited perfusion education program. An additional award will be earmarked for a clinical technician/perfusion assistant who is interested in advancing their career by enrolling in perfusion school.
In addition to the financial assistance of a one-time, capped $20,000 award, scholarship winners who successfully complete the program will be given employment at SpecialtyCare, the nation’s largest outsourced perfusion company. They will become part of our network of more than 450 perfusionists who provide essential patient care in over 100,000 surgeries each year. And, they will be able to take advantage of other benefits that SpecialtyCare has to offer, such as certification preparation, the chance to work with top surgeons, expand specialized skills, and participate in industry-leading research projects led by our medical department.
Please don’t wait to apply, as there are just four slots available and the application requires several components, including a written essay. The last application period attracted a large cross-section of students, and we are anticipating an even larger number of applicants for this roll-out period.
History of the Brown-Brukardt Scholarship
We first announced the Brown-Brukardt Perfusion Education Scholarship along with our support of Thomas Jefferson University’s Center for Perfusion and Extracorporeal Technology Education in 2015, as two major initiatives from SpecialtyCare to generate future perfusionists. The scholarship honors Jim Brown, a long-time perfusionist and Gary Brukardt, who founded SpecialtyCare and served as CEO and chairman. Both evolved the practice of perfusion over the last three decades and established the outsourced model used today. They exemplified integrity, leadership, and dedication to patient care and with this scholarship, our goal is to support students who share these same qualities and demonstrate outstanding potential as cardiovascular perfusionists. Meet the 2018 winners.
Perfusion is a Smart Career Choice
Linda Mongero, Al Stammers, and I have dedicated our careers to excellence in perfusion and understand the satisfaction and rewards that go hand-in-hand with the challenges of being a vital member of the surgical team. We have written about the perfusionist shortage and continue to actively recruit talented young people into this profession. Members of the medical department and perfusion operations have been canvassing the perfusion schools across the nation to promote education, deliver academic lectures, and to answer any questions related to our scholarship program.
We encourage our colleagues throughout the industry to join our efforts and address the perfusionist shortage. Talk with the talented young people in your life who are interested in science and medicine and make them aware of perfusion as a career. By engaging and developing competent clinicians now we can ensure that surgeons and patients will continue to receive expert support when needed. We are grateful for the inspiration and career-long dedication of Jim Brown and Gary Brukardt and we look forward to meeting the perfusionists of tomorrow who will benefit from their legacy.
If you have any questions about the scholarship program, feel free to email [email protected]
Andy Stasko, MS, LP, CCP, RRT
Director; Operational Performances for Perfusion Services
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About Andy Stasko
Andrew Stasko, MS, LP, CCP, RRT; serves as the Director of Operational Performance for Perfusion Services and remains a practicing clinical perfusionist. Andy has been involved in clinical perfusion since 1991 in major medical centers across the country that included Chief at Westchester Med Center; Valhalla, NY; before returning to Lexington, KY., as a Clinical Manager in Operations, Business Development and Clinical Quality delivery as a service provider. He has since relocated to Colorado to support Operational support across the nation. His involvement includes Perfusion Education during New Hire Orientation, IntraOperative Blood Management, Research author and contributor to our Medical Research and published literature, Benchmarking with the STS Guidelines in collaboration with CT surgery and Anesthesia protocols establishing work-groups to drive Outcome Improvements at the hospital and at the departmental level to help identify Clinical Variation and Reduction opportunities to Improve Quality Outcomes.
He serves in the capacity as chairperson for the Brown-Brukardt Perfusion Scholarship offered through our organization.