OSU-Okmulgee Announces O&P Technician Program

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Oklahoma State University-Okmulgee has begun a new Orthotics and Prosthetics Technician Program, the university announced. Students are developing multiple skill sets, including technician skills, fitting skills, and pedorthic fabrication skills, the university noted. Graduates of the new program will find jobs in three categories: technician, fitter, or pedorthist.

According to OSU-Okmulgee, the vision of this comprehensive educational effort will be to provide educational opportunities for persons seeking pre-certification coursework in pedorthics, technician training, certification in fitting, and clinical internships.

Students are drape molding a check socket for a transradial amputee.  From left: Rey Amezquita from Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Billy James from Talihina, Oklahoma.
Students are drape molding a check socket for a transradial amputee. From left: Rey Amezquita from Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Billy James from Talihina, Oklahoma.

In the mid-1990s, responding to the growing need for pedorthic services, OSU-Okmulgee first organized its Pedorthic Footwear Technology Program. 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 (NCOPE).

This past spring, the Board of Directors of the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics (ABC) put OSU-Okmulgee's Registered Assistant credentialing program on moratorium, then later decided to credential the students currently enrolled in the program until the fall 2007 semester.

In response to ABC's actions, Jerry Wilson, Health and Environmental Technologies Division chair, restructured the University's program to the technician level. Wilson also has approached the OSU Health Science Center in Tulsa about creating a masters degree-level practitioner's program, which its academic study team is currently studying.

Wilson said that employers in the O&P field are seeking graduates who have multiple skill sets, such as OSU-Okmulgee's new program will produce. "Employers nationwide have known about our pedorthics program and 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 to make this happen. I felt this move was validated when I heard that ABC and BCP [Board for Certification in Pedorthics] are negotiating a merger."

OSU-Okmulgee's Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics Center provides service to patients in the community including on-site fabrication, patient and community education, and workmanship warranties. In this photo, students are learning to fit patients with an arm brace.  From left:  student Diana Thomas from Tulsa, Oklahoma; and student Tammie Hart from Henryetta, Oklahoma.
OSU-Okmulgee's Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics Center provides service to patients in the community including on-site fabrication, patient and community education, and workmanship warranties. In this photo, students are learning to fit patients with an arm brace. From left: student Diana Thomas from Tulsa, Oklahoma; and student Tammie Hart from Henryetta, Oklahoma.

The university's administrators are enthusiastic about this new approach to educating technical professionals. "Orthotics and prosthetics technicians are in demand nationwide, and graduates of OSU-Okmulgee's program will enjoy successful careers," said OSU-Okmulgee President Bob Klabenes, PhD.

Program instructors include four full-time certified pedorthists, a certified prosthetist, and a certified orthotist, as well as several practitioners who teach as adjuncts. The university's program is supported by an industry Advisory Committee consisting of certified orthotists, prosthetists, and pedorthists.

Students will complete a 60-credit hour Associate in Applied Science Degree program consisting of 26 credit hours in general education, four credit hours of interdisciplinary coursework, and 30 credit hours of technical coursework in two options: prosthetics or orthotics. Both options will include a course in pedorthics and an internship.

The university noted that financial aid and scholarships and out-of-state tuition waivers are available for persons who qualify.

For more information, call the OSU Health & Environmental Technologies Division at 918.293.5330; e-mail Division Chair Jerry Wilson at jerry.wilson@okstate.edu; or visit www.osu-okmulgee.edu