NCOPE Approves Pedorthic Standards

The National Commission for Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) announced that its board approved the Standards and Guidelines for Accreditation of Educational Programs in Pedorthics at its March 15 meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Since coming under the NCOPE umbrella in 2009 and after the April 2010 Education Summit meeting, NCOPE and the Committee on Accreditation of Pedorthic Education (CAPE) have worked together to revise the standards, bringing the minimum education level for the pedorthic profession to a certificate level, housed within an academic institution.

NCOPE acknowledged support and funding for the education meeting from the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics, the Board of Certification International, and the Pedorthic Footwear Association.

The process for approval included:

  • The creation of new certificate level curriculum based upon the profession’s Practice Analysis and the results/recommendations of the education meeting in April 2010
  • Public comments on the draft curriculum by the pedorthic community.

“This is a new era in pedorthic education and a culmination of several years of effort by many groups and individuals,” Chris Costantini, CAPE chair, stated in a press release. “Many in the profession have long felt that this is a much needed move and a positive step in the evolution of this profession.”

Movement to a minimum bachelor’s degree requirement in pedorthics is still years away, Robin C. Seabrook, NCOPE’s executive director, told O&P Business News. These new standards represent the first step in moving it to the academic setting and awarding professionals at the certificate level.

“You have to remember O&P went from short-term certificate to long-term certificate to bachelor’s to master’s in more than a 30-year span,” she said. “This will take some time. Programs need to be started and created at the 2-year college level first and have roots established before any discussions about taking it to bachelor’s — thus years down the road.”

The new standards are effective immediately for any new programs seeking accreditation. All currently accredited programs will transition to the new standards by the end of 2012.

Current programs that are not housed in an appropriate institution may form a consortium with an accredited institution, Jennifer Richards, CPO, CPed, FAAOP, vice chair of NCOPE’s board of directors, said.

NCOPE has sent a survey to educators to ease the process for the institutions. In addition, Seabrook said that the organization has informed current technician programs that new pedorthic standards have been adopted to see if there is any interest to create an add on-track for pedorthics, since all of the technician programs currently are housed in institutions.

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