Orthotist and Prosthetist Job Description: Orthotics and Prosthetics is the evaluation, fabrication and custom fitting of artificial limbs and orthopedic braces.
Prosthetists specialize in designing and making artificial limbs, while Orthotists specialize in designing and fitting orthopedic braces such as surgical supports and corrective shoes. These professions are similar and an individual may be both an orthotist and a prosthetist.
Prosthetic hands, arms, and legs help amputees or people who were born without limbs carry out the activities of daily living and even run marathons. Braces help people with damaged limbs walk. Prosthetic ears and noses help minimize the stares that severely disfigured people must endure.
These allied healthcare professionals usually work in workshops either in private practice or as part of a larger healthcare clinic or hospital. They often work with machinery and equipment that can be noisy and poses some potential for injury. They usually do not work week-ends or holidays. The environment is well lit, air-conditioned and requires the ability to work with tools and other equipment.
Training and Qualifications - what you have to do to be an Orthotist or Prosthetist
Those interested in becoming a Prosthetist or Orthotist should take high school courses in algebra, geometry, biology, chemistry, physics, metal shop, woodworking, welding, English, computer skills, health occupations/medical professions education, psychology, and social studies.
A bachelors degree in prosthetics or orthotics from an accredited college and an internship with a qualified Orthotist or Prosthetist is required.
Licensing and Credentialing
Many states have licensing requirements but not all do. A degree from an accredited school in the appropriate healthcare training is usually a requirement prior to applying for any healthcare license.
Some healthcare professions must pass an exam to validate the required knowledge and competency levels. Inquiry with your state board of healthcare licensing to find out if you must be licensed in the state you are planning to be practicing in.
Orthotists and Prosthetists may also choose to take a specialized exam to become a Certified Orthotist or Prosthetist. Many employers prefer certified Orthotists and Prosthetists.
A four year degree is required to become
an Orthotist or Prosthetist.
The ability to fabricate and some artistic talent is very useful in this field
Employment should grow faster than average
Earnings can be expected to be higher than average but subject to government regulation, Medicare reimbursement and insurance company cost cutting efforts
Advancement - chances for promotion
As orthotics and prosthetics businesses become more successful, they are vulnerable to consolidation, as larger firms swallow up smaller ones. Over time the field will probably become far less entrepreneurial, and there will be less room for people to move up and become the owners and managers of their own businesses.
In addition, like all medical fields, orthotics and prosthetics is funded primarily through Medicare and insurance companies. Changes in their funding regulations, which can come very abruptly, can have a large impact on employment or even self employment opportunities.
Currently, there are still ample opportunities to develop a thriving business in this area.