NCOPE Quantifies New Master-level Education Requirements

ORLANDO, Fla. — Because of the extensive O&P educational
qualification changes on the horizon, the National Commission on Orthotic &
Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) offered an update for current and future students
and educators dedicated to information about these additional requirements.

  Jennifer Richards
  Jennifer Richards

Although the changes are sweeping, Robin C. Seabrook,
NCOPE’s executive director, and Jennifer Richards, CPO,
CPed, FAAOP, vice chair of NCOPE’s board of directors, assured session
attendees that they are not insurmountable.

One of the biggest differences is that every person graduating from an
O&P education program will receive an education in both orthotics and
prosthetics; there no longer will be an option to study only one discipline.
This requirement will make graduates more marketable and should increase the
level of respect they receive from the international community, due to their
ability to be awarded ISPO Category I recognition, Richards said.

  Robin C. Seabrook
  Robin C. Seabrook

From there, graduates will be able to pursue certification in just one
facet of the profession if they choose, Seabrook said. Among the other key
components of the new curriculum requirements are evidence-based practice,
research, the psychology of disability and rehabilitation, and clinical and
applied technology.

NCOPE views the residency as the second part of O&P clinical
education, Seabrook said. Any O&P educational program created since Aug. 1,
2010 must meet these new master’s level standards. Current programs have
until the end of 2012 to make the transition.

Even those educational institutions that currently have master’s
programs might need to change to meet NCOPE’s new standards, as they may
have been accredited under the old standards. Currently accredited certificate
programs will be allowed to continue running their certificate programs for
individuals seeking to extend their credential until the end of 2014.
California State University, Los Angeles, Northwestern University, and the
Newington Certificate Program plan to run both master’s degree and
certificate programs simultaneously, at least for some time. Programs will have
the option to offer a transitional master’s degree for people who
previously graduated with a bachelor’s degree or a certificate in
orthotics and/or prosthetics. — by Stephanie Z. Pavlou


I have welcomed this educational change in the field for
years. When I first joined the O&P field as an administrator/manager, the
bachelor’s degree was recently inaugurated as the terminal degree for the
field. Then later, having worked on the early development of the master’s
degree at Eastern Michigan University, I believed then that these new
requirement would put our graduates at a level ready to meet the future
innovations and challenges we face as an industry and they face as
practitioners. This also puts us on par with other allied health providers and
gives us an opportunity to be respected at a higher level with other medical
caregivers in both the ambulatory and the inpatient settings. If we are going
to ask Congress to include us among the essential health benefits, then we have
to have the education, knowledge and ability to command that respect and
inclusion. Thank you to NCOPE and all those who have supported this long-time
needed and welcomed change.

— Anita Liberman-Lampear, MA
director, University of Michigan Orthotics & Prosthetics Center

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