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Prosthetists provide an artificial replacement for patients who are missing a limb. Orthotists provide a range of aids to correct problems or deformities in people’s nerves, muscles or bones.
Training and qualifications required
You need to study for an approved degree (BSc) in prosthetics and orthotics. Two universities in the UK offer courses which take three or four years. To get onto a degree course in orthotics and prosthetics you need two or three A levels (or equivalent qualification) along with five GCSEs (grades A-C), including English language, maths and science. Alternatively, a degree apprenticeship standard (level 6) in prosthetics and orthotics has been approved. You will typically need level 3 qualifications in order to apply for a degree apprenticeship with a health care provider.
Expected working hours and salary range
Prosthetists and orthotists in the NHS work standard hours, which are likely to be around 37.5 a week. They may have to work shifts, including evenings, nights and weekends. They start on band 5 of the Agenda for Change pay scales. Elsewhere, a prosthetist’s or orthotist’s hours will depend on where they work. In a private clinic, they may work evenings and weekends to suit private clients.
Desirable skills and values
Prosthetists and orthotists need an understanding of how people live their lives, have an interest in how engineering can be used to help people and be willing to work alone or in a team. They should also have engineering and maths skills, good manual (hand) skills and ability to explain treatment to patients.
You will work as a prosthetist or orthotist and may choose to specialise in a particular area of practice such as sports injuries, diabetes, forensic podiatry or working with children. Teaching or research are also options.You could also move into management, either within orthotics and prosthetics services or general management. As head of a local orthotics and prosthetics service you would be responsible both for a team of staff and for managing a budget. Some prosthetists and orthotists decide to set up their own clinics, on their own or with other professionals.
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