Earlier this year, the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic
Education (NCOPE), the American Board for Certification in Orthotics,
Prosthetics and Pedorthics Inc. (ABC), the Board for Certification/Accreditation International
(BOC), the Pedorthic Footwear Association (PFA) and current pedorthic educators assembled in Dallas to
take a closer look at pedorthic education standards to address the changes that
need to be made to that educational program.
Robin Seabrook, executive director of NCOPE, spoke to O&P
Business News about the conference and what is anticipated in the coming
months and years regarding pedorthic education.
“I think there was agreement that the education needs to be
elevated,” she said. “Based on the services that a pedorthist
provides and the fact that the skill and knowledge statements provided by the
BOC and ABC’s Practice Analyses and Scope of Practices, although they may
differ a little bit, I think there was agreement that the education for entry
level pedorthists needs to be elevated.”
The history of pedorthic education, as presented at the conference,
dates back to 1958 with the foundation of the PFA and first education
conference. The first pedorthic course of study was offered in 1961 and as the
profession continued to grow, the Board for Certification in Pedorthics (BCP)
was created. In 1975, practitioners needed to pass written and oral exams as
well as a clinical examination to acquire certification.
Until 2005, BCP prescribed pedorthic education practices and
requirements. In that year, BCP certificants voted to change some of the
requirements including the adoption of a competency-based system in place of
120 hours of chair time. Additionally, they voted to put into place a
three-level document as the base education curriculum that would also
incorporate a registered footwear technician as a new non-practitioner
Fast forward to late 2006 when that organization merged with ABC, by
which time the Commission on Accreditation of Pedorthic Education was already
formed and a few short years later, pedorthic education was incorporated to
fall beneath the NCOPE umbrella. The same year, pedorthic education
requirements incorporating the three levels in the previous document as well as
a documented work experience program and passed exam took effect. The
registered technician was dropped as a potential specialty.
According to BCP’s plan. additional changes were expected in 2010
raising the requirements to include an associate’s degree in addition to
the completion of all three levels from the curriculum document or an
associate’s degree in pedorthics along with all other requirements. These
changes, however, never came to fruition.
Attendees at the conference tackled the questions: What will the
pedorthic profession look like in 2012 and beyond? What factors will best
define what the profession will look like.? Of the many responses formulated in
the groups of attendees, the buzz words affecting all other areas of O&P
began to circulate – evidence-based practice, government regulation,
licensure impact, durable medical equipment. Also the groups identified that
the pedorthic environment of the future would: incorporate distance learning
into the curriculum; require advanced education before entering the profession;
implement a three-phase shift to a degree program; and become even more
With this information, Seabrook expects to begin making changes soon.
“What we are going to do is probably look at [instituting] a
minimum of a 1-year certificate. For those programs at community college levels
that want to possibly add it to their curriculum for a program that’s
already accredited – they can add this as a component to an already
existing degree. They can also issue a 1-year certificate depending on how they
develop the curriculum,” Seabrook explained. “Either way, now that we
have the report, our committee, which is made up of pedorthic clinicians and
educators, is working on a new set draft of educational standards.”
As of press time, the committee who created the new draft of educational
standards was open for comment period and will remain open until Nov. 20.
Following the comment period, Seabrook said the committee will redraft and then
ultimately the board will approve the new standards.
What does all of this mean for the already credentialed pedorthist?
Brian Lagana, executive director for PFA weighed in on that adding that there
was already a level of concern glossing over the pedorthic community. He
explained that the specific implications or requirements for already certified
practitioners were “not ironed out.”
“What I envision is two parts,” Lagana told O&P
Business News. “I envision that current certified pedorthists will
continue to practice to a scope that meets their requirements. I also envision
for current certified pedorthists to take modular courses to meet the
equivalent to the [new] program.”
Seabrook and Lagana both expressed their understanding for the general
concern but assured that these steps are intended to take the profession in the
“One way in which you solidify yourself as a profession is through
your education. I think that although we don’t have direct control over
it, whatever changes we make to the entry level education hopefully will have a
positive impact to the profession and then ultimately will start them down a
pathway that they will subscribe to,” Seabrook said. “I would
envision it would have a more direct impact ultimately on the PFA and how they
move forward with their membership and the way they are able to address
legislative issues and reimbursement and things like that. Although it’s
not our role, we hope it has an impact and we think it will have a positive
impact and bring them to a higher level of recognition of the important
services they provide at the clinical level.” — by Jennifer
For more information:
BOC International was pleased to co-sponsor and participate in the
Dallas meeting that is referenced in this article. We applaud NCOPE and the PFA
for bringing together key stakeholders for a thorough and collegial discussion
of this important issue. To me, this represents the type of collaboration and
inclusiveness that is needed in the OP&P field.
Looking ahead, BOC concurs that elevated educational requirements will
be important to the profession. We hope to see pedorthic education that will
include both academic and hands-on components. To ensure access to the
necessary education, the availability of online learning will be essential.
Also, the price of the education must be in proportion to the salary a
pedorthist is likely to earn.
BOC encourages all stakeholders to participate in the review and comment
of the proposed educational standards.
— Claudia Zacharias, MBA, CAE
and chief executive officer, Board of Certification/Accreditation,
The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and
Pedorthics Inc. (ABC) was pleased to participate in the Pedorthic Education
Conference as our certified pedorthist scope of practice and the content of our
CPed certification examinations are linked to the primary pedorthic education
curriculum. The conference participants, which included pedorthic educators as
well as representatives of national organizations, took a comprehensive look at
the past and present pedorthic education, and thoroughly discussed the
possibilities of future educational programming.
Typically a change to primary education standards does not affect
already certified personnel. We do expect, however, that educational standards
that increase the length of the program and the depth of knowledge taught will
enhance the new pedorthist’s ability to experience a broad based education
and the clinical experience necessary to completely function within their scope
It was the hope of conference participants, including
ABC, that the pedorthic profession will benefit from increased education
standards. We believe new standards will help to maintain and possibly even
elevate the standing of the pedorthist in the medical/rehab community as well
as the reimbursement arena.
— Catherine A. Carter
The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics
The education summit in Dallas was a watershed moment for pedorthics.
The leadership of PFA, ABC, BOC, NCOPE and the current educators all came
together in cooperation. With participation of all the bodies directly involved
with the profession and the current educators, a plan was mapped out to move
pedorthic education forward. The proposed increase in the educational
requirement to a minimum 1-year certificate will allow the student more time to
build usable fundamental skills.
The patient will greatly benefit by encountering practitioners entering
the field with a much more polished skill set. The student will more quickly
develop into an advanced practitioner. Their base skills will be honed under
the guidance of their instructor due to the increased contact time, rather than
developed on their own over the first few years of practice. This makes us more
valuable to employers, increasing the starting wages of new pedorthists.
Pedorthics will be an attractive option for students already in the
education chain, allowing us to give students going through kinesiology and
similar degree programs a practical field to enter to actually use those
degrees. Our job placement in the field is nearly 100% and the potential to
open your own practice is very good. Not too many other professions can offer
The profession is keeping pace educationally with other fields. It is
critical that CMS, state legislators creating licensure laws and third party
payers recognize and respect the specialized skills we bring to the table. That
recognition happens when they examine our education and compare it to other
The last couple of years have been tough on pedorthic education. With
the advent of the Therapeutic Shoe Fitter, attendance in pedorthic programs has
dipped. This has forced several programs to shut down. We are at a critical
juncture. This initiative will allow pedorthics to attract new schools, new
types of students and to grow into the future.
— Christopher Costantini, CPed