Prosthetists programs are available as a Bachelor of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics and as a post-baccalaureate certificate program. Certification in the field of prosthetics involves the study of orthotics and additional related subjects. Prosthetists work with physicians to help patients recover from illness or injury through the custom creation of artificial limbs or body parts.
For a bachelor's degree program, you'll need to complete an observation or volunteer experience in orthotics and prosthetics, as well as undergraduate courses in anatomy and physiology, biology, psychology, trigonometry, physics, chemistry, and statistics. Prerequisites for certificate programs include a bachelor's degree in a health-related field, as well and courses in math, science, and statistics.
Bachelor of Applied Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics
These programs typically last four years. The professional portion of the orthotics and prosthetics curriculum is normally presented solely in the junior and senior years of college. Students spend the first two years completing prerequisite science and math courses and apply in their sophomore year for admission into the program. Due to this '2+2' structure, students often complete general education requirements at community colleges and transfer at the start of their junior year.
Coursework in an orthotics and prosthetics program is very technical. Students complete clinical rotations in order to gain hands-on experience. Topics studied include:
- Gait analysis
- Lower and upper extremity orthotics
- Transtibial prosthetics
- Clinical pathology
- Spinal orthotics
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate of Completion in Prosthetics
Certificate programs in prosthetics incorporate didactic and hands-on training over a period of 6-9 months. Following completion of the program, graduates complete a 1-year residency in order to become eligible for the certification examination. Graduates can work as prosthetists.
Program coursework gives students hands-on experience in the following topics:
- Normal and pathological gait
- Knee prosthetics
- Radiographic procedures
- Upper limb prosthetics
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for prosthetists and orthotists is expected to grow at a rate of 23% between 2014 and 2024. The average annual salary for practitioners was $69,960 in 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Continuing education requirements for prosthetists are administered by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics (ABCOP). Dually certified practitioners (CPO) must complete 100 credit hours of mandated continuing education every five years.
Students interested in prosthetics can pursue both bachelor's and certificate programs in the field. Graduates of these programs can seek employment in prosthetics and orthotics, a field that is expected to grow healthily over the next decade.