In this conversation, I talk to one of the winners of SpecialtyCare’s Brown-Brukardt Perfusion Scholarship. Bryce and I discuss how he became interested in pursuing perfusion as a career and how this scholarship will help make that dream a reality.


Announcer: Bringing you conversations with leaders within the operating room and healthcare community, this is Scrubbing In.

Todd Schlosser: Hello and welcome to this episode of Scrubbing In, a podcast powered by specialty care. I’m Todd Schlosser and today I am joined by Bryce Davidson, and the reason we wanted to speak with Bryce Davidson is because he is one of the winners of specialty cares’ Brown Burkhart perfusion scholarship. In this conversation, Bryce and I discuss how he became interested in pursuing profusion as a career and how this scholarship will help make that dream a reality. Enjoy the conversation.

Todd Schlosser:  Well, thank you for joining us here on Scrubbing In, today I am joined by Bryce Davidson and Bryce Davidson will soon be graduating with a master’s of profusion science from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and I like to start off Bryce, if it’s alright with a similar question I ask everyone that’s on Scrubbing In and that is what is it that drove you to want to work in general in the healthcare space?

Bryce Davidson: Right. Well thank you for having me on the podcast today.

Todd Schlosser: Absolutely.

Bryce Davidson:  To answer the question, it was kind of a long route for me. I actually entered my undergrad career through engineering and I was doing the courses with math and calculus and punching numbers and whatnot. And you know, I started to realize that the people I was with, the classmates I had, my professors, their personalities didn’t really attract me. I wasn’t really keen to that atmosphere. A lot of introverted individuals I was surrounded by, and my best friend, my wife, who I was dating at the time, both of them were in health care and they just always talked about it, they were very passionate about it. And I decided to take a change and I went into my first biology course and I loved learning about the body. I loved how it worked and how all the systems work together in harmony to produce, you know, who we are. And so with that, I switched my degree. I moved over to a health care field.

Todd Schlosser: Was this when you were at Brigham Young University?

Bryce Davidson:  Correct, yeah, the campus up in Idaho.

Todd Schlosser: Yeah. And you got a bachelor’s of science in exercise physiology, correct?

Bryce Davidson:  Yeah, correct. I should say with that exercise physiology and everything, I was just keen on trying to help people understand their bodies better, keen on trying to support and give assistance to those who are in need. One of my favorite classes in high school growing up was my emergency preparedness class where we learned CPR and basically life saving services. And with that I kind of was like, okay, let’s do this career, let’s learn about the body and then let’s pursue a career that I can go and help people who are in need.

Todd Schlosser:  Excellent. So and I’ll say this, I ask this question of pretty much everyone that’s on the podcast and they all sort of have similar reasons for going in. Everyone’s path is different, which is what interests me, but everyone is, they come from a compassionate or wanting to help and wanting to positively impact people’s lives, that I really find fascinating. I enjoy that. Most people that want to work in healthcare do sell for those reasons. So you graduated from BYU with the BS in exercise physiology and when perfusion first come on your radar?

Bryce Davidson: It came late in my schooling, actually, I was probably a junior in my undergrad and I came across an individual who, he was coming back to check off the prerequisites in order to apply to perfusion school. And so he had already done college and now he’s coming back to pursue this career. And I was like, hey man, I’m looking into PA school, I’m looking into med school. What is this career that you’re telling me about called perfusion? And he lays it out for me. And all of a sudden I’ve, you know, learned about this magical career out there called perfusion. And I was very intrigued and I started looking into it and it kind of just clicked for me as far as one of my favorite topics in school was learning about the heart and learning about the blood. And that kind of is the domain that perfusionists find themselves in.

Todd Schlosser:  So when you found out about profusion, I think you said it was your junior year at BYU. Is that when you started shifting into more of a health focus with your undergrad? ;’Cause you mentioned that you started out with a different field in mind and then shifted to health. Is that what shifted you to health?

Bryce Davidson: No, not necessarily. What shifted me to health was actually the desire to be a EMT.

Todd Schlosser:  Oh, okay.

Bryce Davidson: And then I was going to pursue either a PA school or med school after that. But both of those fields were time consuming. I mean as far as, you know, they require volunteer hours, they require experience in the healthcare field. And I didn’t have any, growing up I just never was really interested in that. And so I was never had time to put forward to finding volunteer hours or a job where I was in the health care field just because, like I said, it wasn’t interested at the moment. And so looking into the career I was like, well, I’m going to need experience. I might as well do it through being an EMT for a couple of years and then pursue further schooling afterwards. And so that was kind of one of the drawbacks or one of the attractions, I guess of perfusion and the drawbacks of the other careers was the fact that is quite time consuming in order to even apply to school.

Todd Schlosser:  And I understand that getting into a perfusion school, no matter where it is in the US, and there aren’t very many of them, but they’re really competitive programs because they don’t except many students. So did you take some time in between graduating with your BS? Did you take some a few years off before you went into profusion school or did you go right into it?

Bryce Davidson:  I went right into it. I graduated in April and then entered school in August.

Todd Schlosser:  Okay. So you, you were driven to …

Bryce Davidson: Of the same year, so …

Todd Schlosser: Yeah, absolutely. So when you were looking at perfusion schools, was the application process difficult? And when I talked to most profusion new grads, that’s like one of the most daunting things that they did was just getting into the school?

Bryce Davidson:  Yeah. I know like you mentioned before at this small scope as far as the possibilities you have. Obviously you want to get the highest level of education you can in your career and with perfusion, that’s a master’s degree right now and so there’s only a limited amount of schools that do a master’s program and then within that realm there’s only limited that you know, offer good perks with animal labs or clinical sites. And so that kind of narrowed it down to three schools for me personally and I applied to one of the schools with one of my friends actually and we both got in and so …

Todd Schlosser:  Oh wow.

Bryce Davidson: The process was pretty straightforward as far as, there’s definitely a lot of investment early on as far as making sure you have good grades because that’s the first thing that will get you filtered out is if you have bad grades. After that, it’s just your personality, how you are with the program director and the other people who may be interviewing you during that process. I do know that it’s getting more competitive just because the demand’s high, classes are small. My class was 14 students and I believe there was about a hundred applicants when I applied. So you can do the percentages, you have to be pretty competitive in order to get in.

Todd Schlosser:  Yeah. I mean top 15% right there that you were, and able to get into your program. And I’ve heard some programs are as low as five every year. The number of people entering the field because it is in such high demand and because of the way economics works, you know pay is great for perfusionists starting out and you can pretty much work wherever you want because they’re in such high demand.

Bryce Davidson: Correct.

Todd Schlosser:  You know a lot of people are now trying to get into the field so they can, you know, get a job in perfusion. So how long is the program there at University of Nebraska?

Bryce Davidson:  So UNMC we have a two year program. It’s just shy of two years is 21 months if you want to get really nitty gritty with it.

Todd Schlosser:  Okay.

Bryce Davidson:  But your first year you are on campus doing coursework, taking your classes, taking your exams. And then the second year you’re doing clinical rotations and so I’ve been all over the country rotating at hospitals and learning the hands on skills necessary to be a perfusionist.

Todd Schlosser:  Yeah. From what I understand that’s pretty common curriculum for most perfusion schools. It is about a year of you know, classroom type style learning and then the rest of it is hands on you learning how to do the job and typically with a perfusionist who is trained to help teach someone hands on, how to do the nuts and bolts of the job. Is that the way you’re a practical experience has gone?

Bryce Davidson:  Yeah, exactly. And I think it’s a good thing to have a preceptor or perfusionist who is already in the career who’s willing to teach and putting forth worth that time to be adept to teaching a student or used to and comfortable with the idea of having someone come in and run a machine in a heart surgery scenario. I mean it’s not anything that you can take lightly or anything that you can not pay attention to. So I’m grateful that there’s clinicians across the country who are willing to, you know, take people like me under their wing and to show them the ropes as far as this career goes.

Todd Schlosser:  Absolutely. And, perfusion is such a small community, you know, there are what 4 000 perfusionists nation wide? So getting to work with, and you mentioned you’ve been kind of all over the country, working with these perfusionist who are helping you learn how to do it. The hands on. It’s good to meet these people because there aren’t many of them and it’s good to build sort of a name for yourself but also get to know the people in the community that you’re entering. So let me ask you this, you graduate in May, so here in just a few weeks. What are your plans post graduation?

Bryce Davidson: So post graduation, just because like you’ve mentioned before, there’s such a high demand for perfusionists. I’ve been fortunate enough to land a job in the region I want to be in and I’ll start working in June. So I have about a month break between graduation and my actual start date. But that’s the idea is that it’s hit the ground running and start working and putting my training to work.

Todd Schlosser: Excellent. So I’ve been asking this question of a lot of the people we’ve been interviewing for this specifically and because, we reached out to you specifically because you were awarded the perfusion scholarship from specialty care. When did you first hear about specialty cares perfusion school scholarship?

Bryce Davidson:  So the first time I heard it was actually through a recruitment type of meeting that we had on campus back in Nebraska. One of your recruiters came in and you showed the company and kind of the perks of working for them. And one of the perks was this opportunity to apply for a scholarship. And so I actually interviewed up in Washington state, so that’s where I’m currently going to be working at. And after I interviewed it went really well, and they offered me the position and then it dawned on me, it’s like, well I’ve heard specialty care also has this scholarship.

Todd Schlosser: Absolutely.

Bryce Davidson: And so I kind of did it backwards. Some people apply for the scholarship and then they get hired on. But I got hired on and then I backtracked and then applied for the scholarship. And so it’s been fortunate enough so it all worked out. I’m super grateful for the award of the scholarship and I look forward to working in the northwest and to be part of the specialty care team.

Todd Schlosser: And I do know, I mean just like the perfusion school, because there aren’t many perfusion schools and the class sizes are small, it’s hard to get in. Same thing with the profusion scholarship, there are a lot of applicants and you know, only so much scholarship to give out. So I know that the application process and interview process for that is not easy. So it speaks highly of your character that you were awarded that. So …

Bryce Davidson: Oh, thank you.

Todd Schlosser: Oh no problem. And I’ll say this, but I don’t mean to diminish anyone who works in an OR, but I would say in a room full of high stakes, the perfusionist is one of the most high stakes positions there. You guys are literally the heart while their heart has stopped. I just don’t think I would be cut out for that line of work because I would be so nervous the entire time.

Bryce Davidson: Yeah, it definitely takes a special mold and I didn’t really think in the beginning that I had that in me, but as I slowly developed myself and the skills and through my schooling, I’ve created myself to become the perfusionist I wanted to be. And so if you’re nervous about in the beginning I say take the leap of faith and start doing the schooling and the way it works out to be a comfortable setting for you, which is weird to think that you’d be comfortable handling someone’s life in your hand day in, and day out.

Todd Schlosser: Well, I’m sure all the training and education you’ve gotten to that point to get to where you are helps with the confidence that I think is behind being calm and collected in those moments?

Bryce Davidson: Definitely. I know a lot of people in their families, they experience heart surgery maybe once in their lifetime with a grandparent or maybe even their own life. But for the surgical team, they do it almost every day. And so they’re very comfortable with what’s going on. And I think people should take comfort in that fact when they have these surgeries and they have to get these operations done, they should be comforted in knowing that these surgical teams do this every day and they’re very proficient at what they do. And so I hopefully bring some comfort to individuals who are looking at the possibilities of a heart surgery.

Todd Schlosser: Well, Bryce Davidson, thank you so much for joining us here on Scrubbing In, I really do appreciate your time and congratulations on the scholarship.

Bryce Davidson:  Awesome. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Todd Schlosser:  Thanks for listening to Scrubbing In. Please take a second to give us a rating on your podcast APP and subscribe so you won’t miss out on what we have coming up. See you next time.