Masters Degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics: Program Information
In 2007, the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) and professionals in education, prosthetics and orthotics mandated that by 2012 entry into the field would require a master's degree (''www.ncope.org''). Colleges and universities began to gear up for the change and beginning in 2009 graduate-level degree programs began to be offered, with more planned each year until the 2012 deadline.
Master's Degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics
The development of artificial limbs and orthopedic braces are the focus of master's degree programs in prosthetics and orthotics. These devices must first be designed, then manufactured, and finally fitted to the individuals that need them. Practical experience is required, ranging from an internship or practicum of four hours a week for three semesters of the program to a 2-year internship completed at the end of the program. Graduates are prepared to become a certified orthotist and prosthetist.
Programs require applicants to have an accredited bachelor's degree. A student's undergraduate major isn't a major concern, but students must have completed classes in math (algebra, calculus, trigonometry), statistics, laboratory sciences (physics, biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology), human growth/development and psychology.
Coursework usually includes a scholarly paper or a master's thesis. Classroom study may include coursework in such topics as:
- Biomechanics lab
- Healthcare management
- Orthotics for the spine
- Pathology in orthopedics
- Transfemoral and transtibial prosthetics
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected average job growth of 12% for orthotists and prosthetists through 2020. According to the BLS, these professionals earned an annual median salary of $62,670 in 2012, with those working in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing earning the top wages.
Certification and Continuing Education
The most comprehensive certification for a graduate with a master's degree in prosthetics and orthotics is the Orthotist and Prosthetist Certification from the American Board for Certification (ABC) in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics. This optional certification allows prepares prosthetics professionals to manage the care of patients, including assessment, planning, fitting and follow-up. To maintain the certification, every five years there is a Mandatory Continuing Education (MCE) plan. Courses must be approved by ABC, and may be found through ABC or the AOPA.
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