STUDENTS IN THE ORTHOTICS and Prosthetics Technician Program at Oklahoma State University-Okmulgee are developing multiple skill sets coveted by employers that will land them jobs in the industry as technicians, fitters or pedorthists. The program was recently restructured to become a technically based orthotic and/or prosthetic degree program. Jerry Wilson, chair of OSU-Okmulgee's Health and Environmental Technologies Division, was instrumental in making the changes in response to the growing need of employers for graduates who have multiple skill sets, including technician, fitting and pedorthic fabrication skills.
"Employers nationwide know about our pedorthics program and have encouraged us to consider integrating pedorthics into a technician's program," Wilson said. "This made perfect sense because we have all the necessary equipment, labs, instructional technology and faculty."
In the mid-1990s, the university first developed its Pedorthic Footwear Technology Program in response to the growing need for pedorthic services. In 2002, the university initiated a registered assistant program and in 2003 became recognized as an accredited program by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education. In 2006, the American Board for Certification in Prosthetics and Orthotics (ABC) placed a moratorium on the assistant orthotist and/or prosthetist credential. Students currently enrolled in the program were given until the fall 2007 semester to complete the program and gain the assistant level credential. In response to ABC's actions, Wilson restructured the program to the technician level.
"The vision of this program is to provide educational opportunities for persons seeking pre-certification coursework in pedorthics, technician training, certification in fitting and clinical internships," says Wilson. "This new program will prepare world-class, high performance technical professionals for the orthotics, prosthetics and pedorthics community. Students will understand that their career goals must match the needs of employers and patients, with patient care foremost in mind."
Keith Crownover, OSU-Okmulgee's orthotics and prosthetics program director, joined the program in August 2006. He has restructured the curriculum and syllabi to reflect a technical-based educational program with the added fitter and pedorthic educational components.
"Today's orthotics and prosthetics professionals must be educated and versatile persons, proficient in multiple levels in order to support the certified clinician," Crownover said.
The university's administrators are enthusiastic about this new approach to educating technical professionals. Bob Klabenes, OSU-Okmulgee president, says, "Orthotics and prosthetics professionals are in demand nationwide, and graduates of OSU-Okmulgee's program will enjoy successful careers."
Program instructors, who are all certified, include four full-time pedorthists, a prosthetist/orthotist and an orthotist, as well as several practitioners who teach as adjuncts. Students complete a 61-hour Associate in Applied Science Degree program consisting of 29 credit hours in general education, four credit hours of interdisciplinary coursework, and 28 credit hours of technical coursework in two options: prosthetics or orthotics. Both options include a course in pedorthics, prefabricated orthotic fitting and a one-semester internship.
Real-world problems and projects drive all learning. Beginning with basic tasks and moving progressively through increasingly complex assignments, students learn that they are crucial partners in their own learning, and learn to work in teams as they design, fabricate and modify orthotic and prosthetic devices. The result is learning that is mastery-driven, fun and engaging, spontaneous, rapid, deep and authentic. Assessments are developed at all levels, and students are exposed to both process and product evaluation. …