Orthopedic technicians assist orthopedic physicians with surgical and non-surgical muscle and skeletal system therapies. Although formal training is available, many professionals learn their trade through on-the-job training. Some schools do offer short-term orthopedic technician programs that lead to a certificate, while others offer programs leading to an associate's degree in orthopedic technology. Most of these programs incorporate lab practice and clinical internships, and graduates of qualified programs may take the orthopedic technologist certification exam from the National Board for Certification of Orthopaedic Technologists (NBCOT).
Students in these programs gain knowledge about the following:
- Interpreting radiographs
- Casting and splinting
- Safety and sanitation issues
- The musculoskeletal system
- Standards of patient care
List of Courses
Anatomy and Physiology Course
Because orthopedic technicians assist orthopedic physicians with therapies and procedures of the musculoskeletal system, students must take one or more anatomy and physiology courses. In this course, instructors emphasize composition and location of bone and muscle structures and their relationships, as well as abnormal growth and developments. Students learn to differentiate normal and abnormal development of musculoskeletal structures and become acquainted with common orthopedic conditions and injuries.
Radiology Interpretation Course
In a radiology interpretation course, students use medical terminology relating to fracture healing and the skeletal system to accurately describe fractures and other orthopedic conditions represented in radiographic imagery. This course provides students with a foundation in the basic principles and history of radiology. Students gain general understanding of the production of diagnostic images through x-rays, MRIs and other radiographic technologies relevant to all orthopedic technician courses.
Casting and Splinting Course
After gaining an understanding of orthopedic conditions and diagnostic images, students take advanced orthopedic technician courses to learn therapeutic procedures. Casting and splinting are central to the career duties of an orthopedic technician. In this course, students learn about the functions and materials of types of casts and splints, as well as methods for applying and removing them. Additional topics include patient transfer, wound care, patient communication, and assistive devices such as walkers, canes, and crutches.
This course highlights the role of an orthopedic technician in ensuring a clean and sterile environment. Students are introduced to invasive and non-invasive procedures in a lab setting. Topics also include aseptic techniques and implementation with emphasis on skills students need to assist an orthopedic surgeon with procedures.
Patient Care Course
Students learn how to provide professional and hospitable patient care in this course. Communication techniques, elementary orthopedic terminology and abbreviations, critical medication fundamentals, OSHA standards, patient safety, and transfers are also covered. Students explore the orthopedic technician's role when interacting with patients and families. While in the class, students learn emergency procedures, how to take blood pressures, pulse monitoring, and administering wound care.