Orthopedic technology programs teach students to assist orthopedic surgeons
by preparing patients for surgery and assisting in the operating room. They
also learn to apply casts and other orthopedic devices.
The National Association of Orthopedic Technologists (NAOT) recognizes only
three programs in the whole country -- Grossmont College, North Orange
County Regional Occupational Program and Cook County Hospital's program in
Tom Byrne is head of the orthopedic technologist program at Grossmont College
in California. He says graduates of his program have "both the practical knowledge
to allow them to choose braces and apply casts -- and the scientific knowledge
that enables them to know how and why these techniques work."
Grossmont's program is one year long, and graduates are immediately eligible
to take the NAOT certification examination, Byrne says.
"Entrance to the program is on a first-come, first-served basis,"
says Byrne. If you want to complete an associate's science degree at the same
time as the orthopedic technologist program, you will have to meet additional
Focus on the sciences in high school. "Every science is used in
orthopedic technology," explains Byrne. "Biology and anatomy give us
our knowledge of bones and muscle, physics explains how the body and
orthopedic devices work, chemistry gives us the basis for creating
the correct combination of casting materials."
Byrne emphasizes that volunteer experience in a clinical or hospital
setting is essential. "You're a fool if you don't," he says. "Ten percent
of our students fail to complete the course, and these are almost always the
ones with no exposure to the field."
Typical courses in the program include anatomy, physiology, traumatology
(how and why injuries happen) and orthopedics (materials and techniques used
to treat injuries).
"They spend two nights per week listening to lectures on specific orthopedic
topics and then two nights applying that knowledge in labs," says Byrne. "One
semester of the course is devoted to a clinical rotation in a hospital
setting, where students get the opportunity to work alongside professionals
in the field."
There are no tuition fees for the program at Grossmont College, because
the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) of the San Diego County Office of
Education funds the program.
Students will have to pay for textbooks.
Occupational Outlook HandbookFor more information related to this field of study, see: Clinical
Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
OrthoGuide.comYour specialized orthopedics search engine and guide
The American Journal of OrthopedicsA well-respected authority in the field
Knee1.comA good resource for those dealing with knees and knee injuries