Program director sets groundwork for Master of Science in Orthotics, Prosthetics program

Sept. 1, 2012

With its program director and assistant program director settled into Houston and Baylor College of Medicine, the new Master of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics program, or MSOP, in the School of Allied Health Sciences is well on its way to welcoming its first class in June of 2013.

"With the help and support of the college and industry professionals, we have defined what we think is a very innovative, challenging and rewarding program for our students," said Jared Howell, program director.

The program trains orthotists and prosthetists, who design, build, fit, and maintain prosthetic limbs and custom orthopedic appliances for individuals with limb loss and physical impairments. These conditions may result from congenital conditions, disease, or trauma.

The program is only one of five in the country to offer a Master of Science degree in orthotics and prosthetics.

"The profession is a unique mix of patient care, psychology, materials science, art, and engineering, not found in any other health care profession," said Howell.

The implementation stage of the program is well underway: an advisory committee has been populated and organized, the requisite approvals from the BCM community have been met, and faculty and staff have achieved each of the milestones in the process to date. The program recently submitted the Application for Candidacy Accreditation to the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education for initial review in early September.

The 30-month, full-time program consists of a 12-month, basic-science education phase followed by an 18-month, pre-graduate, clinical residency phase. Students are also required to complete a master's-level research project and paper prior to graduation.

The 18 months of pre-graduate clinical training follows the medical model with students gaining exposure to six core clinical rotations through BCM's clinical affiliates. These experiences are designed to fulfill traditional post graduate residency requirements in prosthetics and orthotics, making students eligible to sit for both orthotics and prosthetics board certification exams immediately upon graduation.

"We are grateful for the support we have received from practices and institutions within the medical center and the region. They have made the implementation of this novel education model possible," said Howell.

While the Master of Science in O&P program has no specified required field of undergraduate study, a student must complete several prerequisite courses prior to starting the program. The first cohort of students beginning in June of 2013 is expected to graduate in December of 2015. Financial aid is available for students enrolling in the program.

For more information about the program and the application process, visit the MSOP website, or email tm1@bcm.edu.