Since the Academy has launched its national awareness and recruitment campaign, some questions have consistently been raised by students, parents, counselors, and others who might be looking for a possible career change. Below, you will find answers to some of the frequently asked questions about the orthotic and prosthetic profession.
Where can I find information on careers and schooling in O&P?
Here on our website you will find information on and links to the various schools that offer O&P education for the practitioner, pedorthist, fitter, assistant and technician levels. You can also "Talk to an O&P Professional in Your Area". These O&P professionals, listed by state, are willing to answer your questions.
What are my schooling options if I studied marketing in college? Had a masters in engineering? Have already been a registered nurse for five years?
Although there may be some unique situations that arise under the circumstances outlined above, the following is the typical schooling path:
- Marketing major? Talk to an O&P school of interest and determine their specific pre-requisites (sciences, math, psychology, anatomy, etc.) Fulfill those pre-requisites and then complete a certificate program (one year per discipline plus one year residency per discipline) OR apply to a baccalaureate program in orthotics and prosthetics.
- Masters in engineering? You likely have the necessary science and related pre-requisites, but may need to take an anatomy course. Again, talk to an O&P school of interest for confirmation. Complete a certificate program (one year per discipline plus one year residency per discipline).
- Currently a nurse? You likely have fulfilled the pre-requisites to apply to a certificate program (one year per discipline plus one year residency per discipline).
No matter what your background, get some real life experience working in an O&P setting-whether it be through job shadowing, interning, volunteering, etc.
How can I find out more about O&P if I live in a rural area far from any of the O&P schools?
Go to "Talk to an O&P Professional in Your Area". Here, you can click on your state and find a listing of O&P professionals willing to answer your questions or provide you with an opportunity to come in and see them at work. If there is no one close to you, feel free to contact the Academy at (202) 380-3663 or . We may be able to connect you with someone in your area.
Are there scholarships available?
Some of the O&P schools may offer scholarships. Check with the school of your choice for more information on the scholarships and other financial aid that may be available. The Academy offers scholarships through it's O&P Educational Development Fund for students currently enrolled in O&P education programs as does the Orthotic and Prosthetics Education and Research Foundation (OPERF). Visit www.operf.org for more information. In addition, if you are a military veteran, the Montgomery GI Bill may pay for your education and some of your other expenses while you study to become an O&P professional (www.gibill.com). For more information, visit our scholarships page.
What if I have not quite decided whether this field is for me? What should I do to become more familiar with the day-to-day job responsibilities?
Go to www.opcareers.org. Use the link on the homepage to "Talk to an O&P Professional in Your Area". Contact someone and see if they'd be willing to allow you to job shadow. Visit the facility and see what a "typical" day might be like.
Is it possible to work full-time while going to school?
Although it can be quite challenging to attain an O&P education while juggling a full-time career, several O&P schools have implemented programs to make this easier. Distance and blended learning programs are tailored to those who will be holding a job while going to school. Students may be required in some instances, to combine online work and home studies with focused clinical experiences on campus. Distance learning programs are currently only available to those looking to extend his or her current credential (i.e. a CO or CP looking to become a CPO). Please visit the "O&P Education Programs" section for the latest information on online education options.
Is O&P a career where an Occupational Therapist (OT) or Physical Therapist (PT) could make a transition without having to acquire another degree?
Most likely the answer is Yes. Typically an OT or PT would have completed the pre-requisites for O&P through their formal education path for physical or occupational therapy. One would then need to complete a one-year certificate program in their discipline of choice as well as a one-year residency.
As a graduate from an accredited O&P program, how would I go about finding a job?
As recommended prior to applying to O&P schools, you should intern with a facility in your area. Maintain that relationship because that facility may one day become your employer. It is also critical to stay informed about what is going on in the profession. Students can do so by enjoying membership in the Academy. You can network with O&P professionals at chapter and national meetings. You'll also make sound connections when you complete your one-year residency. There are also several O&P publications that list job openings and employment opportunities.