Offered exclusively as an associate's degree program, the orthopedic technology program prepares graduates to sit for certification exams offered by the National Board for Certification of Orthopaedic Technologists, Inc.
Orthopedic technologists assist orthopedists with clinical duties such as taking comprehensive medical histories, applying or removing braces, and manipulating bones, ligaments, and joints that have been damaged by accident or disease. The program includes a laboratory component and an orthopedic technology practicum, where students work directly with orthopedists and patients in a clinical setting.
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Associate's Degree in Orthopedic Technology
An associate's degree program in orthopedic technology normally takes two years to complete. Students must have a high school diploma or GED and prior coursework in biology and health science to be admitted.
The curriculum explores the role of an orthopedic technologist, from interviewing and examining patients to being a vital component of an orthopedic treatment team. The major coursework examines the areas of healthcare, medical terminology, orthopedic anatomy, physiology, and surgical procedures. Students learn to identify, utilize, and sterilize orthopedic instruments and materials and perform orthopedic techniques, such as applying casts and splints. Topics that are covered in coursework include:
- Skeletal muscular systems
- Surgical techniques
- Orthopedic injuries
- Traction configurations
- Trauma patients
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), medical appliance technicians, including orthopedic technicians, had a median annual salary of $34,890 as of May 2015. An 11% employment growth was projected for these professionals during the 2014-2024 decade.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Employed orthopedic technicians are eligible to take certification exams offered by NBCOT, the National Board for Certification of Orthopaedic Technologists, Inc. (www.nbcot.net). NBCOT offers two certifications, the Orthopaedic Technologist Certified (OTC) and also the Orthopaedic Technologist - Surgery Certified (OT-SC). Graduates with an associate's degree in orthopedic technology might also consider enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in physician assistant studies or surgical technology.
Students in orthopedic technology associate's degree programs learn how to examine patients, use orthopedic instruments, and assist an orthopedist with applying casts and splints. In addition to coursework, students complete clinical experience alongside an orthopedist.