There are four steps required to become a prosthetist: post-secondary education, certification, work experience and obtaining a position as a prosthetist. A prosthetist is responsible for creating and fitting replacement body parts. Replacement or prosthetic limbs are a combination of metal, plastic and molded silicon or rubber designed to mimic the body part in both appearance and function. Common prosthetic devices include arms, legs and breasts.
The first step to become a prosthetist is to gain admission into the prosthetist program. There are a very limited number of schools offering this program and the number of spots available is quite restricted. Qualifications include a high degree of manual dexterity, ability to work with multiple materials and interpersonal skills.
Many people who decide to become a prosthetist have received artistic training in sculpture or fine art. This background provides the necessary skills in perspective, creating a three-dimensional object from scratch and attention to detail. Another common background is bio-mechanical engineering. The training provided in this program encourages the use and development of new technology to better serve the client’s needs.
All states require the prosthetist to become certified before providing services to clients. In order to become a certified prosthetist (CP), there is an educational credential evaluation, as well as practical and written examinations. This process is managed by The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics, Inc. Continuing education programs and ongoing certification requirements ensure that all members keep their skills up to date.
Almost all post-secondary training programs to become a prosthetist include a work placement semester. This work term provides an opportunity to interact with patients, learn how to properly fit and measure for a new prosthetic device and the types of issues that can occur with poorly fitted devices. All work is completed under the supervision of a certified prosthetist and medical doctor.
A prosthetist can find employment opportunities in hospitals, medical rehabilitation facilities, private practice and prosthetic companies. As medical technology improves, the need for this type of service will increase. Doctors are now able to save patients with illnesses and injuries that used to be fatal. However, prosthetic devices may be required to allow these patients to function independently and return to their previous level of activity.
People who have the highest level of satisfaction from this job enjoy problem solving, helping people and working with their hands. As a prosthetist, it is important to have good interpersonal skills, patience and listening skills. Many people are extremely self-conscious when being fitted for their first prosthetic device. The ability to put the client at ease and make the experience a positive one is very important.