From the Editor
Three elements are needed to make an outstanding O&P practitioner: head, hands, and heart. Probably everyone knows practitioners who do not have a college degree, but through experience and dedication have become fine practitioners. Conversely, probably everyone knows someone with a good deal of "head knowledge," but lacking in the other two essential qualities.
That being said, just how important is the education level expected for the O&P profession? How do educational requirements and attainments affect the view of physicians and other allied health professionals toward O&P? How do increased levels of education affect the quality of practice? What about the shortage of O&P professionals with the university education necessary for research and teaching?
An educator noted any changes in required educational standards will not impact the field right away, since the numbers graduated annually from the O&P schools are small. They will, however, affect the future of O&P and new practitioners entering the profession. As the number of people needing O&P care increases with an aging population, who will fill the gap if there are not enough qualified prosthetists and orthotists available? Somebody will. Educational standards and requirements involve complex issues with no simple, easy answers. But what today's O&P practitioners, educators, and business owners decide-along with others with a stake in O&P- will definitely help shape the future.
What sort of a future do YOU see for the O&P profession? What do you WANT to see?