I got a phone call yesterday from a young lady named Raven, who interestingly enough as an undergraduate degree in biology and is going for a Masters in epidemiology. On top of it, her sister is an MDA and Raven herself has worked as a CNA to garner the experience prerequisite to applying for perfusion program. We had nice conversation, it was fun and it reminded me of myself back when I was in San Diego desperately trying to get into any heart program anywhere in the city, so that I could observe open heart surgery and get enough observe cases under my belt just to qualify for the application process of multiple perfusion programs ranging from California to Texas to Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
When I spoke with Raven we discussed prerequisites as well as her educational aspirations and isolated what might help and what might hinder in her perfusion application. Her mindset was that job shadowing for a few months would definitely assist or make a difference in terms of the selection process for entry into a perfusion program. I emphasize that yes it would help, that her CNA experience would make a slight impact, but I stressed that what I was most impressed with was the effort she was putting in just to get an opportunity to job shadow.
She lives in Ohio, is a student at Cleveland University, and is willing to go as far as Texas for a job shadow opportunity. That is seriously impressive IMO – so I decided to include her letter of introduction in its entirety because it struck a chord in me in terms of the many different approaches I took in order to get access to this profession.
In retrospect I am shocked at how little I really knew about perfusion, as I had only watched two hearts before I made my decision that indeed this is what I wanted to do with my life. Raven’s letter I think represents a little bit of all of us in terms of the passion with which we approached the merest possibility of this profession.
We have all been there. 🙂
So with all of that, I introduce you to Raven and if you have job shadow opportunity available for her please respond directly to her email. firstname.lastname@example.org
Raven J. Tentman
Degree Objective: Cardiovascular Perfusionist
“The heart is the most important organ that pumps blood through the body. It’s the center of life. Without the heart we would not be able partake in things we enjoy doing. I have had to witness family members suffer through heart attacks and different cardiovascular diseases and I felt hopeless because I was not able to help. I want to be able to actually do something in helping others with conditions. My career goal is to become a successful cardiovascular perfusionist and to be a part of the solution to help people with heart conditions.
I believe I have many qualities that prove that I have the experience and the knowledge I need to progress into this competitive field. When I enrolled at the University of Toledo I was aware of my desire to further my knowledge in biology and in doing so I have been preparing myself for taking a step in the perfusion field and that includes vigorous studying and also venturing out into community. Throughout my college experience I had to learn the importance of time management. Being a full time student, in organizations, and working for a rehabilitation center it had required a great deal of responsibility, determination, and motivation. Each of those qualities are important to be in a fast pace field and has contributed to my strong foundation of my character.
Having great communication skills is a key attribute for a cardiovascular perfusionist. I was able to shadow a perfusionst at the Cleveland Clinic and talk to perfusionists about their experience in the field. I was able to see first-hand what happens before the surgery begins. As part of the surgical team, the perfusionist is expected to be up to date with the patient’s medical history and current health status. The perfusionist and the surgeon will determine which circulation equipment and techniques will be used. During surgery the surgeon is communicating with the perfusionist wanting to know the smallest change in a patient’s condition or circulation. The responsibilities of a perfusionist is very important to help keep the patient stable.
My choice to pursue a career in perfusion was not one made on impulse. At a young age I knew I wanted to be in the medical field to make difference and to help people. Growing up I felt I was in the hospital more than any person should be. I saw how doctors, nurses and nursing assistance worked together to try to make a difference. Then as I began to get older I was personal touched time and time again and knew I wanted to do more and not just sit on the sidelines. There is so much hurt in the world today and I want to be a person to help ease that pain. I knew perfusion was for me when I was able to watch an open heart surgery and saw everything the perfusionst did and how vital they are.
I was able to explore my passion of helping by volunteering at local hospitals during high school and during breaks in college. I have always had a strong interest in sciences and human biology. I was reassured of my path I choose being a perfusionist the spring of my junior year and my senior year. I began to do research on the profession and was able to shadow a perfusionist and a student perfusionist. It help me get a view into this field through a trained professional who had over ten years of experience and a student who was in his final year. From my time at the Cleveland Clinic I was really able to see how important this position is for the patient. Perfusionist operate heart-lung machines to keep blood flowing when the heart is stopped for open heart surgery. During surgery, perfusionist add oxygen to blood, and monitor blood gases and circulation. The blood pump is a very important tool because it propels oxygenated blood to the patients’s tissue while the heart unable to do so. Throughout all of this the perfusionist manages the physiological and metabolic demands of the patient. It is also very significant to have knowledge about the equipment used to perform circulation function because depending on the surgery different pumps could be used.
Recently I have been working at Sycamore Glenn which is a rehabilitation center that helps people who have had hip replacements, cancer, heart attacks or strokes. Being a nursing assistant has given me over 1200 hours of patientcare experience and has opened my eyes to different aspects of communication, responsibility, working under pressure, and working long hours.
I am fully aware that the path I have chosen is a very long and difficult process. Nevertheless, I do not know any other way to fulfill my life than to put 150 percent of my heart and passion into everything I do, and perfusionist school would be no different. These last several years with the people I have encountered and the different activities have taught me to face adversity head on. I am positive with my motivation and all the skills I have accumulated so far in life that I will become an excellent cardiovascular perfusionist. I look forward to the challenges ahead, and will apply myself diligently.”
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- TagLine: I am a young respiratory therapist who has a love of helping people and a thirst for knowledge. I’ve worked with many cannulated patients in the Open Heart unit at my current full time job and it has inspired me to go back to school. I’m currently finishing up prerequisites while working and would love to shadow as many cases as I can before placing my applications to programs. Any cases between now and the end of the year would be ideal.
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