Methuselah Meets Perfusion? An Age Survey…

Editor’s Note:

Had an interesting e-chat the other day regarding a perfusionist who wanted to place an ad on ‘Surfers looking for work.

I asked the individual to send a picture of themselves – and got this response:

“For me that is not such a good idea.  I do not want to emphasize my age.  Sad but true .”

To put it mildly, I was a little shocked.  I asked the age, and it was late 50’s.

I typically like to ask for three things before placing an add:

  1. A Cover Letter
  2. A Resume’
  3. A Picture (@ work in scrubs- or having fun- NO suits)

The reasons for the first two speak for themselves, the photo on the other hand has a separate agenda.  It is an obviously superficial profile of the individual, but it is a direct reflection of reality.

It has absolutely nothing to do with “looks” as much as it does reflect a person’s self image of themselves.  You are going to meet your prospective employer at some time- regardless.  You just don’t show up to a new job or interview in scrubs, hat and mask.

More often than not, an employer will care less about your appearance as opposed to your ability and how you present yourself.  Handsome and pretty- is nice- but doesn’t translate to clinical ability or aptitude.

If you are fat, old, or less than perfect in appearance, chances are you have already compensated in other, more concrete ways, ie; work ethic, education, wit, personality, perfusion “sense”.

So the picture becomes a filter so to speak, and in my opinion will help save both party’s a lot of time and wasted energy (as well as $).

Getting an interview is great, but why go if the instant you meet face to face- there is no connection?  This process at least eliminates unrealistic expectations.  Does it remove or expose bias?  Yes and no.  But that is beyond the scope of this dialogue.

Editor’s Note:

The individual who I am referring to wrote a lengthy response that was extremely thoughtful and well written.  I posted it on ‘Surfers as a new post of it’s own.  It can be seen by clicking here.

Related Posts & Survey Links:

when-is-younger-too-young ?



*  click-here-to-take-the-survey

*  click-here-to-view-survey-results

When is Older TOO Old ?

The name Methuselah, or the phrase “old as Methuselah,” is commonly used to refer to any living thing reaching great age.  Hence the title, hence the survey.

But age is a sword that cuts both ways in our profession.  Is it possible that too old may indeed trump too young?

I honestly feel, that age is not the limiting factor when considering, innate talent, preparation, grace under pressure, and one’s thought process.

Certainly, there are impacts implied by age, that need to be considered, (flexibility, speed), but usually not conditioning or stamina.

Mental acuity is the rapier point to the argument.  Are you as sharp as you once were?


The condition of your thought process is more specific to the individual- than the particular decade of life you are living in.

I’ve met more than my share of  idiots, and  doddering fools.  Age was NOT a common denominator for either condition.

I suppose the only true testimonial to how age is valued in our profession is directly measured by compensation.  Older, more experienced perfusionists make a higher salary.

Whatever that means.

I talked to a cardiac surgeon about it, and he told me that most of his mentors worked well into their 70’s, and that in his opinion, the primary limiting factor was visual acuity (not being able to see well enough to do your distals).

So the take home message on that is:

If your 70 something and blind- you probably won’t do well on your next interview 🙂

Gainsborough’s Blue Boy, 1770

When is Younger TOO Young ?

Too Be Continued…  A Survey is to follow !  🙂

7 thoughts on “Methuselah Meets Perfusion? An Age Survey…

  1. A good discussion. Our society has wrestled with this issue regarding age limits … for example on driving a car. When is older to Old for getting behind a wheel? So much individual variation – in this country we rely on the people closest to the “senior” to take away the keys.

    Personally, I don’t think we should legislate “when is older too old” in our profession, but other occupations do have set standards on retirement age limits …


    1. Air traffic controllers: Mandatory retirement age of 56, with exceptions up to age 61 for certain workers who have “exceptional skills and experience.”

    2. FBI agents and other federal law enforcement officers: All federal agents have a mandatory retirement age of 57.

    3. National park rangers: The mandatory retirement age is 57 at Yellowstone in Wyoming and at other national parks.

    4. U.S. Lighthouse Service workers: If you keep watch to prevent maritime accidents, you’re required to retire at age 55 or age 62 depending on years of service.

    5. Airline pilots: Federal rules dictate a mandatory retirement age of 65. The Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilots Act raised the retirement age from 60 (set in 1959) to 65 in 2007.

    6. Local firefighters: Some communities set age limits. In New Jersey, for example, the mandatory retirement age for volunteer firefighters is 70.

    7. Florida Supreme Court justices: The Florida Constitution establishes mandatory retirement at age 70.

    1. Good points. I personally don’t think we should set age limits either, but do feel it is always based on the individual- as opposed to the decade 🙂

  2. Good discussion, my friend and mentor once told me, “it is time to retire when you have to check the trash to see if you gave the mannitol.”

  3. Well Frank, I am happy that our conversation stimulated a new discussion topic. But Methuselah? Really??

    Just kidding. I am actually not that sensitive about my age. I worked very hard to get to this point in life’s stages.

    A few thoughts about older perfusionists: My favorite instructors when I was a student were older. They tended to be calmer, more self-assured and better able to deal with my mistakes. Probably because they had already made a lot of these same mistakes themselves.

    But now I can remember that as a younger, early mid-30 something perfusionist, I was myself very prejudiced against my older colleagues. They didn’t react to alarms so quickly, seemed to take forever to get albumin or blood into the circuit, couldn’t reach the low connections so well, etc. They were also reluctant to assimilate new techniques, didn’t want to “dive in”.

    Now that I have been around longer, I realize that most of the times they didn’t let it get to an alarm going off (ie were more proactive), and probably added the blood or albumin more slowly to avoid pressure drops. They didn’t assimilate new techniques quickly because they had already seen some “fads” come and go. Remember when we had to standby in the OR for PTCAS when they started? And the PTCAS meant that perfusion and open heart surgery was done for…..

    Older perfusionists don’t move at the same tempo because we have learned through thousands of 24 hour workdays how to pace ourselves. It is horrifying to fall asleep behind the pump and be awakened by the scrub nurse banging a clamp on a basin. Yes, that did happen to me, when I was about 28. never since then because it scared the crap out of me.

    I recently did 3 weeks of pediatric mission work in which I was the only perfusionist. The work days averaged 15 hours, 6 days a week. The younger volunteers were falling asleep in the OR and lounge but because I knew what tempo I needed to set to keep functioning, I was fine.

    I actually had a young RT person make a (pretty funny actually) joke to an ECMO nurse that when I started doing ECMO it was with “cross-circulation” and when I wanted more oxygen for the ECMO patient, I would have to jog. I did laugh but it also gave me the feeling that they expected me to keel over mid-shift.

    There have been countless permanent jobs that I have sent resumes out and gotten NO responses. I assume that they think that I want some monstrously huge salary, or I will have health problems or whatever. They don’t ever give straight answers about age discrimination in the US. But overseas I was told by 3 different groups that I was too old. And all 3 groups had hired people that I had helped to train as perfusionists.

    The interesting point you made about “sticker shock” is true. I have gotten some shocked looks when they see my white hair and wrinkles. But by then it is too late and I get to prove myself. After I work somewhere and show my capabilities, I am always asked back.

    The chief surgeon on the mission trip actually said “Oh my goodness” before he could stifle it. But I will be doing a return engagement with him soon and he was calling me “Hon” by the end of the 3 weeks. I am a female, not a guy, by the way. There is also a huge chauvinism problem, but that is a whole other story.

    I hope that my “stream of consciousness” diatribe gives you some insights. I also found your shocked reaction interesting and it made me stop and ponder what my experiences really meant.

    Thanks a lot for all you do for me personally and for the betterment of our profession, let’s meet at a meeting sometime.

    A CCP

    PS Since you seem to like good artistic photography, Google the image “Age and Its Symbols” by Imogene Cunningham. It is from a series of photos she made when she herself was over 90 of active subjects who were also over 90. I think the book is titled “After 90” Wonderful images.

  4. I’ve never thought of age as a primary indicator of anything except maybe age. I’ve always subscribed to the mindset of quality vs. quantity( of experience). I remember certain employers in Denver once telling me during an interview that I was no “spring chicken” anymore (good God man I was 33!) despite having a pretty good CV surgical background before Perfusion. If one had to haul 150 lb fire hoses or carry 200 lb victims to safety I could see the rational but an old perfusionist at 33 ( nevermind that these two employers were both over 40+)?? In my book aging comes when one becomes complacent and accepts the status quo. Failing that and keeping open to new ideas and integrating that to established paradigms keeps me alive. The trick I think is to balance that with being physically sharp as well. Consider my relationship to a curmudgeonly accomplished chemical engineer who, at 82, would still be a cutting edge professor at the local School of Mines or perhaps even MIT. Alas his ailing body has hampered him due to diabetes, PVD, etc. I want him to live forever with that sharp mind but I am content to giving him encouragement, verbal banter and learning revelations from someone who persevered the great depression and several wars thereafter. I’m learning much from my friend, mainly to never stop learning, that many will know more than myself but have not walked in my shoes and that what’s important is knowing what to apply, what to ignore, what to cherish and what to treasure. The best days are yet to come and so we march on…

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