How to Become an Orthotist | Prosthetist

Here, our objective is to discuss becoming an orthotist or a prosthetist.

There are varieties of healthcare professions specialized in specific aspects of healthcare.

You’ll need to know what’s required to pick a suitable specialization. In this case, the need to understand what orthotics and prosthetics are about is essential as it gives you an idea of where to start.

How to Become an Orthotist or a Prosthetist

As suggested by the topic above, our discussion will center primarily on how to achieve your goal of becoming an orthotist or prosthetist.

Orthotists are professionals that make and fit splits and braces. An orthotist measures, designs, fabricates, and provides or services orthoses prescribed by a licensed physician.

Prosthetists, on the other hand, are also healthcare professionals with similar roles having specialized education and training to measure, design, fabricate, fit, or service prostheses as prescribed by a licensed physician.

Essentials for Becoming an Orthotist and Prosthetist

Your desire to pursue a career in orthotics or prosthetics will require a sound knowledge of critical areas like the educational requirements and the skills required.

Other details like career outlook, the responsibilities of these specialists, and pay are also necessary for proper understanding.

With that said, the rest of our discussion highlights these critical areas and more. By the end of this article, you should have a clear idea of what path to take to achieve your objective.

Orthotist and Prosthetist Training, Education, and Qualifications

This is the starting point for realizing your objective of becoming an orthotist or prosthetist.

Training is offered in colleges and universities here, and the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) promotes O&P education programs.

Your journey to achieving your goals starts from earning a bachelor’s degree, enrolling in a graduate program, completing a mandatory residency program, and getting licensed and certified.

Let’s discuss each of these points for more clarity.

i. Earning a Bachelor’s Degree

Orthotist and prosthetist education commences with a four-year bachelor’s degree.

Typically, no set major is focused on undergrad programs. While that is valid, psychology, biology, physics, anatomy, chemistry, and physiology classes are essential requirements.

To get considered for a graduate program, you’ll need to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 and 21 hours of science courses. What more?

You have the option of taking a pre-medical or pre-professional route to train.

ii. Enrolling in a Graduate Program

The next stage involves enrolling in a graduate program after completing or earning your bachelor’s degree. The Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics (MSPO) is what you register for.

While a bachelor’s degree takes around four years to complete, an MSPO takes about two years.

Before enrolling in a graduate program, it’s necessary to ensure its full accreditation.

The accrediting bodies are the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

So, what training do you get by joining an MSPO program? There are quite a lot! These range from spinal orthotics to plastics, upper and lower extremity orthotics, and prosthetics.

Clinical training sessions are included in the curriculum and provide hands-on knowledge and experience to students.

During the graduate program’s duration, various courses are covered, ranging from gross anatomy to kinesiology and clinical foundations.

Other courses include lower limb orthotics, transtibial prosthetics, material methods in prosthetics & orthotics, and biomechanics.

More courses include scientific inquiry I, orthotics, transfemoral prosthetics, orthopedic pathology, professional issues, and integrated internship II.

The courses covered upper limb orthotics, neuroscience, prosthetics & orthotics, and healthcare management.

Advanced pediatric examination & intervention, clinical practice gerontology, and prosthetics & orthotics teaching assistant are added courses you’ll cover during an MSPO program.

iii. Completing a Mandatory Residency Program

Having completed a graduate degree, you’ll need to attend and complete a mandatory 1-year residency program. This program gives you the eligibility to sit for the certification exam.

You’ll have to complete residency training to be certified in orthotics and prosthetics.

However, if you only seek certification, residency training must be completed in your preferred field. Of course, joining a residency program in orthotics and prosthetics means you’ll have to sit for exams.

iv. Getting Licensed & Certified

Orthotists and prosthetists need to be licensed.

Here, the licensing requirements will vary from one state to the next. Not every state requires licensing. So, you’ll need to check what applies to your state.

Sitting for national certification exams may be part of the requirements.

The national certification body is the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC). Tests are administered to test your knowledge of clinical aptitude in orthotic and prosthetic practice.

The exam covers several areas such as ethics & professionalism, anatomy, material science, physiology, pathologies, and biomechanics.

Other areas of assessment include kinesiology and disease process.

Orthotist and Prosthetist Skills

You must possess essential skills outside the educational requirements for these medical fields.

To succeed as an orthopedist or prosthetist, you must be detail-oriented, have good communication skills, have problem-solving skills, and be patient.

Physical stamina and agility are also critical skills for success in this field.

Career Outlook

For the most part, many people are drawn to a field of study or profession by the perceived prospects.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of orthotics is projected to grow by about 18% from 2020 to 2030.

The demand for orthotics and prosthetics is projected to rise due to the aging baby-boomer generation. What more?

As diabetic and cardiovascular diseases increase, the conditions (limb loss) resulting from such will require the expertise of orthotics and prosthetists.

Prosthetist and Orthotics Responsibilities

Are you wondering what the roles of orthotics and prosthetists are?

Several responsibilities include taking impressions of affected areas on patients’ bodies that need artificial limbs or braces.

As an orthotist or prosthetist, you can determine patient needs through evaluation.

Designing and fabricating prosthetics and orthopedic devices following exact prescriptions by physicians is another. These professionals also fix or replace orthotic and prosthetic devices, document care in patient records, and instruct patients on the use and care of these devices.

With the information provided above, your journey to becoming an orthodontist and prosthetist is simplified.

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