What Education Do You Need to Be a Prosthetist?
What Education Do You Need to be a Prosthetist?
If you’re interested in working with people who have limbs that are missing, prosthetics may be the right career for you. Prosthetists are responsible for designing and fabricating artificial limbs (legs, arms, hands, and feet), braces, and other devices to help patients with injuries or deformities improve their mobility and function.
Getting an undergraduate degree in orthotics and prosthetics is a good way to prepare for this career. It teaches students about the anatomy, physiology, and physics of human movement, as well as how to design and fabricate custom prosthetics.
After completing an undergraduate degree, you’ll want to pursue a graduate program in the field. There are a few different kinds of master’s degrees available, and they typically take 2 years to complete. Regardless of what you choose, your program will likely require coursework in biology with lab, chemistry with lab, physics with lab, psychology, and statistics.
In addition to coursework, most programs require a residency for students who want to become certified in orthotics or prosthetics. This specialized training is essential for professionals who plan to work in this field and pass certification exams after graduation.
How Long Does It Take to Become an Orthotist or Prosthetist?
Currently, the most common education path to becoming an orthotist or prosthetist is to obtain a master’s degree in the subject. These master’s degrees require about 2 years to complete and include an internship or residency in the field.
There are many different schools that offer these types of degrees, and you’ll find a range of tuition costs. Some offer scholarships or financial aid to help students finance their education.
A Bachelor’s in a Health Science or Biomedical Sciences major is also a good choice. Having this type of a degree will give you a leg up when applying for prosthetics or orthotics master’s programs at the graduate level, as it shows your dedication to the field.
Earning a degree in the field of orthotics and prosthetics requires that you attend a school that is accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) or the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC). There are also online options for those who don’t want to spend the time and money on an on-campus program.
You’ll need to take prerequisite courses in biology with lab, chemistry with lab, and physics with lab before you begin your O&P master’s program. It’s important to select a program that has a good reputation for its quality of teaching and research.
After graduating from an O&P program, you’ll need to participate in a one-year residency in the field. Some states require licensed prosthetists to complete an additional year of residency, so be sure to check your state’s requirements before you start your program.
After a career in orthotics and prosthetics, you can choose to be an independent practitioner or an assistant for other prosthetists. As an assistant, you’ll need to assist with fittings and answer questions from patients. You’ll also need to provide ongoing patient care and support, which can be physically demanding. Having excellent communication skills is also crucial for this career.