What to Expect
People studying prosthetics and orthotics learn to make and fit artificial
limbs and supportive devices for people with illnesses or injuries.
Julie Kim's inspiration for taking the clinician program at a community
college was seeing a two-year-old girl fitted for a prosthesis. She did
her internship in the prosthetics and orthotics department at a hospital
rehabilitation center, working under the supervision of a certified prosthetic-orthotic
Finding a placement at the hospital was easy for Kim because she'd volunteered
there before. The fact that there are so few programs helped as well,
because it ensures there is a constant demand for both clinicians and technicians,
"I think that if there were any more [programs], there'd be too many graduates
and not enough jobs to go around."
Mike Carpenter decided to take the prosthetics and orthotics technician
program at Spokane Falls Community College because it combined his love of
helping people with his mechanical aptitude. "You get to help people and work
with your hands at the same time," he says.
"This type of fabrication is not just technical, it's artistic as well
-- every job you do is different, even though a lot of it is production."
Carpenter laughs when he recalls a big surprise from his training. "I
had to learn to sew!" A lot of the braces are made with leather and metal,
and he had to constantly practice to get it right. "The sewing was probably
the most challenging aspect of the program."
How to Prepare
Kim advises high school students to volunteer as much as possible in
rehabilitation clinics and centers. Not only will this help you get your
foot in a college or university door, she says, but it will also provide you
with a great feeling of accomplishment.
"It's very satisfying to see people up and about, people who wouldn't be
walking without what you've done."