This article discusses orthopedic technician training and the job profile for the profession. Orthopedics is a field of study which examines the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic technician training qualifies individuals to assist other medical staff in the treatment and care of patients with musculoskeletal related problems. The role of an orthopedic technician, sometimes referred to as an orthopedic technologist, can involve bracing, splitting, and casting fractured bones, damaged tendons, and ligaments.
Orthopedic Technician Education and Training
It is possible to practice as an orthopedic technician after attending a one year certified program or an associate degree course. There are programs relating to this field run by junior colleges as well as specialist medical schools. To enroll on a course, it may be required to have already received CPR or first aid certification. To ensure that the maximum number of openings is made available upon graduation, it is important to seek out a school which has been accredited through the National Association of Orthopedic Technologists.
Depending upon the medical establishment were employment is found, an orthopedic technologist can be called on to fit pre-operative braces, prepare and administer casts and appliances, as well as removing sutures, splints and casts. The job description may also involve assisting surgeons with orthopedic procedures such as fracture reductions and wound care. In the program of study, students cover the following theory and practical concepts:
- Identifying anatomical components of the musculoskeletal system
- Function of the musculoskeletal system
- Application of splints, braces and casts
- Record keeping of care plans
- Clinical Rotations (Practicum)
During the training, prospective orthopedic technologists will need to become familiar with X-Ray interpretation, casting and splinting practices, traction and surgical techniques, patient care, and human anatomy. Most training programs will also involve the student completing an internship at a specialized clinic or hospital.
Though certification is not required in all states, to take up a position in this field, it is preferable to acquire a recognized status level. It is possible to receive credentials from the National Board for Certification of Orthopedic Technologists by taking the examination. To be eligible for the exam, one must first of all have successfully completed a recognized training program, and have undertaken at least a year of employment in the field.
Orthopedic Technician Careers
Depending upon the medical establishment were employment is found, an orthopedic technologist can be called on to fit pre-operative braces, prepare and administer casts and appliances, as well as removing sutures, splints and casts. The job description may also involve assisting surgeons with orthopedic procedures such as fracture reductions and wound care. They may also work directly with physical therapists and rehabilition therapists.
A technologist specialized in orthopedic care may also be asked to offer instructions to patients in the correct usage of various appliances and casts. When traction is required, they can be called upon to assist patients and ensure correct protocols are followed. Other tasks may be undertaken, for example collecting patient data and ensuring the cleanliness of orthopedic appliance storage areas.
Estimated Income and Projected Career Outlook
According to the United States Department of Labor, there is currently a high demand for specialists with qualifications relating to the field of orthopedics. It is an area in which there are equal opportunities in both rural locations and big metropolises.
According to a survey carried out in 2008 by the National Association of Orthopedic Technologists, the average hourly wage for new graduates with orthopedic technician training was between $13 and $15 per hour for non certified individuals, whereas for those persons that are certified, the level was between $17.70 and $19.80 per hour. For 2012, the median expected salary for a Orthopedic Technician is $37,233. The actual level will depend in part on the type of employer as well as the location.