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Prosthetics Training Programs and Requirements

Prosthetics is a medical field that focuses on the manufacturing and fitting of artificial limbs for amputees. There are a variety of prosthetics careers, including prosthetics fitters, assistants, technicians and, most commonly, general prosthetist practitioner or prosthetist.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

The majority of prosthetists hold bachelor's degrees or higher in the field from accredited colleges or universities. Associate degree programs may also be available. Certification is available for prosthetists who have completed education and training requirements.

Formal Education

Most students begin their education by completing a bachelor's degree in prosthetics. Many pursue a master's degree in the field. Associate degrees may be available to students interested in working as a prosthetic technician.

Bachelor of Applied Science Degree

A Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) in Orthotics and Prosthetics is a 4-year, undergraduate degree program that introduces students to the basic skills associated with the work of a prosthetist. Students complete a number of core courses, such as biomechanics, gait analysis and transtibial prosthetics. General education classes may also be required.

Master of Science Degree

A Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics is a 2-year, graduate degree program that offers students advanced study and research opportunities. Courses may address topics like transfemoral prosthetics, lower limb orthotics and spinal orthotics. Clinical experience and an extended research project usually form part of the M.S. curriculum.

Job Experience

Much of a student's experience is gained through supervised, clinical work during their degree program. Most students complete a year-long residency from an institution accredited by The National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE).

Licenses and Certifications

Prosthetists can pursue certification through The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC). This requires completion of a bachelor's degree in prosthetics from an institution with accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Students who hold a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field can pursue a CAAHEP-accredited post-graduate orthotics or prosthetics certificate. A 12-month residency and written examinations are also required for this professional certification.

Workshops and Seminars

A variety of workshops are available to professionals working in the field of prosthetics. Advances in prosthetic technology, which are common, may be addressed in such seminars. Other topics may be covered in professional workshops, including prosthetics cost control and extended patient care, as well as tips on how to help patients adjust to life with a prosthesis.

Additional Professional Development

In order to maintain certification, every five years prosthetists are required to complete 75 hours of continuing education. Courses at local colleges or health organizations may be available on subjects such as upper extremity prosthetics and exercise physiology for rehabilitation.

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