Long-Term Entry Level Education

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When the original mandate of the NRC-NAS Program had been successfully achieved, General Strong, a man of unique stature, competencies, and leadership qualities, retired in 1959. 3 After some 12 years of being responsible for and guiding essentially all the research and education activities in P&O, the ALP gradually began to reduce its scope and influence, although the short-term training programs at UCLA, NYU, and NWU successfully continued for many years.

As time went on, however, it became clear that these short courses did not and could not meet the needs of newcomers preparing for careers in P&O. They needed far more lengthy and broad-based training. Responding to this need, in 1963 NYU offered the first O&P degree program in the world, concurrent with its ALP short-term course training. This degree program was offered within the Department of Prosthetics and Orthotics at the NYU School of Education, Health, Nursing and Arts Professions.

Strongly influenced and supported by NYU's extended 12-year multidisciplinary P&O research and educational experiences, a four-year professionally oriented training program was developed. The first two years were devoted primarily to the established arts and humanities as well as 18 credits of basic science prerequisites-mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology-which are an absolute prerequisite to the specialized instruction.

However, the content of the third and fourth years, including summers, went much further, introducing comprehensive, detailed instruction in appropriate medical sciences (human anatomy, physiology, and orthopedic and neuromuscular pathology), engineering sciences (mechanics, biomechanics, properties of materials), psychology of the physically disabled, and research and statistics.

These latter 20 credits-all new to P&O education-consumed more than one additional semester of class time. These academic courses were integrated with extensive instruction in the technical P&O fitting and fabrication procedures, for a total specialization experience of 1,800 hours of didactic and laboratory classes, plus more than 1,000 hours of clinical experience in cooperating shops. 4

This curriculum included some 38 credits-over one academic year-of academic and theoretical instruction directly related to P&O responsibilities, all of which lie at the core of a "professional" training program. In this respect, this degree program served as a model for a number of leading institutions in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The content of this curriculum unquestionably is academically equivalent to the masters degree curricula currently being offered in allied health. With the termination of the NYU program as an active institution in 1991, a relatively solitary, yet important, voice in national educational affairs came to an end.

Bibliography

  1. Furman, B., Progress in Prosthetics, U.S. Department of Education, Health and Welfare, Washington, D.C., 1962 161pp
  2. Wilson, A. B., "History of Amputation Surgery and Prosthetics," Chapter 1 in Atlas of Limb Prosthetics, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 1992 13pp
  3. Strong, F.S. Jr., "A Helping Hand," Chapter XIV in What's It All About, privately published 1985 10pp
  4. New York University Bulletins, School of Education, Health, Nursing and Arts Professions, Prosthetics and Orthotics 1963-1991 2pp
  5. Fishman, S., "The Professionalization of Prosthetics and Orthotics," article in O&P Business News, June 1, 2001