How to Become a Prosthetist

How to Become a Prosthetist

Prostheses are essential artificial medical devices that help patients regain function after losing a body part. Prosthetists are trained medical professionals that help patients with a variety of conditions that result in the partial or complete loss of a body part obtain prosthetic devices.

What does a prosthetist do?

Prosthetists help patients with a variety of disabilities resulting from injury, disease, or birth defects. They first meet with a patients and evaluate their individual needs. They assess their range of motion, muscle development, joint stability, and overall health and condition of the area where the prosthetic device is needed. They take detailed and accurate measurements and impressions and then create a custom design that will meet the patient’s needs and ensure the most support, comfort, and strength. They assess the patient and carry out the required adjustments and prepare the areas where the device is to be attached by using compression devices and splints. Prosthetists provide the patients with detailed instructions on how to use the prosthesis. They regularly check up on the patient to make sure the device is working correctly.

What kind of training does a prosthetist need?

Prosthetists typically need a bachelor degree in orthotics and prosthetics. Prospective prosthetists usually complete courses in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, applied prosthetics, and kinesiology. They must also complete a year long residency program that is approved by the National Commission on Orthotics and Prosthetics Education (NCOPE). All states require prosthetists to be certified and those that complete the residency program can take the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics certification examination. Prosthetists must stay up to date on their skills and advances in the field and must complete continuing education and certification requirements on a regular basis.

What are the prospects for a career as a prosthetist?

Employment of prosthetists is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 9% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increasing need for prostheses and advances in technology with drive job growth.

Job prospects should be favorable especially for prosthetists with extensive experience. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace prosthetists that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do prosthetists make?

As of November 2009, the middle 50% of prosthetists earn average salaries between $52,248 and $75,930. The top 10% earn average salaries of more than $85,587 (2).

A career as a prosthetist is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in helping patients with loss of limbs or other body parts gain mobility and function using prosthetic devices. Prosthetists must have excellent manual dexterity, artistic ability, and ability to work with a variety of materials. They must be detail oriented and extremely accurate and precise in their work. Patience, good listening, compassion, and ability to help patients feel at ease are essential characteristics. Prosthetists must also have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

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