Orthotics and Prosthetics

Program Description

Spokane Falls Community College offers the only Orthotics-Prosthetics technician program in the western United States. Students are trained in basics of orthopedic brace and artificial limb fabrication in a two year competency-based program. Each discipline (Orthotics and Prosthetics) includes three quarters of study and lab work plus an off-site clinical experience for each.

Competency-Based Education

The program is taught in a competency based format in which each student works with reasonable independence utilizing learning activity packets, numerous learning resources and individual and group instruction provided by the instructors. This approach increases the potential for students who have some experience with hand and power tools and possess fine and gross motor hand skills to be successful.

Student/Faculty Ratio

The Orthotics-Prosthetics classroom has individual workstations for 32 students. The average student/faculty ratio is 15:1

Clinical Experience

At the conclusion of each three quarter block of formal classroom training, the student usually travels to another city and participates in a five week clinical experience to practice fabrication skills under the supervision of a certified orthotic or prosthetic practitioner.

Open Entry/Exit

Unlike most college programs that start in autumn, students have the flexibility of entering the program at the beginning of Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters. Students usually finish the program two years from their starting date. Orthotics-Prosthetics classes are not held during the summer.

Certificates of Completion

An individual certificate is awarded upon completion of each discipline, allowing a student to take only Prosthetics or Orthotics if he or she wishes. However, job opportunities are greater for technicians with skills in both areas.

The A.A.S. degree

An Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree is awarded with completion of both disciplines. The A.A.S. is a vocational arts degree and is not transferable. Students take one additional class each quarter to fulfill their general education requirement to earn the A.A.S. degree.

Program Accreditation

The Orthotics Prosthetics Technician Program at SFCC is one of four technician programs in the U.S., and is accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic Prosthetic Education, in cooperation with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

New Graduates

Graduates with a certificate in each discipline have entry level skills and are immediately eligible to participate in the American Board for Certification national technician registration exam. Qualified technicians are in demand nationwide and enjoy challenging work, good pay, regular hours, benefits (typically) and the satisfaction of working in a profession that helps people return to independence.

Classes at SFCC

Students in the Orthotics program take courses in the use of power tools, materials, and human anatomy. They develop skills in modifying shoes and fabricating lower limb orthoses, spinal orthoses, and upper limb orthoses. Students in the Prosthetics program also learn the proper use of hand and power tools and materials. They take courses in human anatomy, below-knee and above-knee Prosthetics, followed by below-elbow and above-elbow Prosthetics. The SFCC technician program gives students the opportunity to work in an environment similar to the industry and gain hands-on experience. To remain enrolled in the program, students must demonstrate the ability to work safely with a wide range of power tools, and maintain satisfactory progress in the curriculum.

Jobs

Orthotics and Prosthetics is one of today's growing health related professions in which there is a strong need for qualified technicians. Graduates are qualified for job opportunities nationally in orthotic and prosthetic facilities, hospitals and central fabrication facilities. Students of the SFCC Technician Program have gone to work from coast to coast in facilities all over the country. Placement in the greater Spokane area is unlikely.

Compensation

Technicians usually enjoy full or partial benefits with their jobs, in addition to job security and regular working hours. Salaries vary greatly depending upon the part of the country one is working in, the size of the firm, the experience and ambition of the individual, etc.

The 2009 Operating Performance and Compensation Report conducted by the American Orthotic Prosthetic Association found that the national average salary range for ABC registered technicians with an average of ten years experience was $39,996 - $48,489*. Entry level pay for new graduates is typically $12 - $17 per hour.

*Used by permission courtesy of American Orthotic Prosthetic Association.

Further information about compensation and demand may be found at O*Net Online.

Future demand

According to recent surveys, the need for professionals in the Orthotics-Prosthetics industry is expected to continue as the "baby boom" generation ages and provides an increase in the demand for Orthotic and Prosthetics services.


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