If you are interested in combining your interests in both science and art, then a career in medical prosthetics may be an option for you. Using a combination of skills, prosthetists are trained to fashion a number of different body parts -- ranging from limbs, to eyes, to ears -- that will ultimately help patients improve their quality of life. As part of a rehabilitation team, a prosthetist works with physicians and physical therapists to ensure the construction and delivery of the best prosthetic product for each individual patient.
To become a certified prosthetist, you must obtain a master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics. This change in educational requirements began in January 2013. There are currently nine master’s degree programs accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education, with several more seeking to gain accreditation. Upon completion of the master’s degree, you must enroll in a one-year residency program through the NCOPE and then obtain certification in orthotics and prosthetics by taking exams through either the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics or the Board of Certification/Accreditation, International.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Housed in the School of Applied Physiology, the master’s degree in prosthetics and orthotics at Georgia Tech is a two-year program that includes a capstone research project for degree completion. The school is also affiliated with a clinic in Belize, and students have the opportunity to spend their winter or summer breaks working in this outreach program. Another unique aspect of training at Georgia Tech is that students work with patients at the veteran’s affairs hospital in Atlanta, where they are exposed to different types of challenges when learning how to fabricate prosthetics and work with veterans.
University of Texas - Southwestern
The UT Southwestern master of prosthetics-orthotics degree is the first program in the United States to fully convert to a master’s-only degree, which takes 18 months to complete. Students work with patients in an integrated clinic operated by UT, allowing them to immediately apply what they have learned. Another unique option for UT students is a course offering in business, where students learn about insurance, billing and coding so that they can successfully manage their own practice in the future.
University of Washington
The master’s degree program in prosthetics and orthotics offered by the University of Washington, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, has the largest number of students enrolled in such a program in the United States. The department itself is ranked number four in the nation, and the program takes seven academic quarters to complete. UW students take courses in occupational and physical therapy in addition to their regular curriculum, which gives them a better understanding of how prosthetics physically impact the patient.
- National Commission on Orthotic & Prosthetic Education: List of Schools
- Georgia Institute of Technology: Master of Science in Prosthetics & Orthotics
- University of Texas Southwestern: School of Health Professions: Master of Prosthetics-Orthotics
- University of Washington: Department of Rehabilitation Medicine: Master of Prosthetics & Orthotics
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