Artem Zhosan is an ECMO specialist at SpecialtyCare, currently working in the Los Angeles area. Here, we highlight his career path of being a perfusionist in Ukraine to becoming an RN and ECMO specialist in the United States, what his day-to-day looks like as an ECMO specialist, and what he loves about this job.
Seeking a Career in Healthcare
Zhosan is originally from Ukraine and started his career as a perfusionist there before moving to the United States in 2015. Upon moving to the US, he started a career in nursing. He jumped right into his first year of nursing school, finishing his Bachelor’s degree and beginning his career. Zhosan credits this career to his passion for helping others and changing their lives at the very tips of his fingers.
Zhosan has been working as an ECMO specialist in Los Angeles since May of this year. Previously, he worked as a pre-and post-operative room nurse in a surgery center in the Bay Area. During the peak of COVID-19, he was invited to work as an ECMO specialist.
Transitioning to ECMO
There’s a lot of overlap between ECMO and perfusion. Zhosan already learned a lot of the information necessary for this career. All human anatomy and physiology basics are the same in the United States and Ukraine from a scientific standpoint. However, clinical approaches from an equipment standpoint and organization within hospitals from a practical standpoint differs across ECMO, perfusion, and nursing.
Zhosan didn’t know anything about ECMO because it isn’t used in Ukraine. He knew the basic principles but had never worked in this field before, so he started from the beginning along with everyone else. Even in the United States, ECMO is a relatively new technology. SpecialtyCare recently launched an ECMO specialty certification that Zhosan has completed and is very proud of.
The Day-to-Day of an ECMO Specialist
Zhosan arrives 10-15 minutes early to each shift and gathers reports from the previous ECMO specialist. During the day, he participates in all of the rounds with doctors and nurses. He loves to introduce himself, immerse himself in every environment, and take part in the work. Additionally, he stays on top of all patient information, so he understands what’s going on with each case. Communication is critical in Zhosan’s role to understand and process the information on each patient’s case and be able to communicate on the same level as doctors and nurses. Since he’s not an actual employee of the hospital that he works in, he makes sure to engage with the team and build that line of communication and credibility.
This field of work is fast-paced, so there’s a lot of helping and leaning on each other. Therefore, Zhosan assists doctors and nurses with their day-to-day work and vice versa. This is where professionalism and strong relationship building really pays off. If there are more than four patients, two ECMO specialists are required to be overseeing on the floor. Some of Zhosan’s other responsibilities include ensuring that everything is running and operating smoothly, maintaining patient safety, machine troubleshooting, and assisting patients.
ECMO has some gray areas with what specialists are allowed to do compared to perfusionists, and these protocols also vary depending on what hospital you work at. Additionally, it depends on the ECMO specialist’s training. In the LA area where Zohsan currently works, they require a perfusionist to start and stop the machine. Zhosan typically prepares the machine and brings all of the necessary equipment accessories.
Patient safety is always a top priority and should never be compromised. If an ECMO specialist is comfortable with putting patients on and off of ECMO, they can take on that responsibility. If not, a perfusionist will do it. If anything were to go wrong in these scenarios, many hospitals have strict protocols for managing these procedures from a legal standpoint.
The Value of Being an ECMO Specialist
Zhosan says that one of his favorite parts about being an ECMO specialist is seeing patients get healthier because ECMO is the last resort for sick patients. Once patients come off of ECMO, Zhosan works alongside them and their physical therapists every day. This is an emotional and rewarding part of his career as he gets to have a profound impact on patients as they rebuild their lives. He also enjoys working on the edge of science and technology as ECMO is constantly evolving, so he’s always learning and growing to help advance the field.
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