The Secret of ABC’s Success

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By Thomas H. Derrick

The American Board for Certifications new Registered Fitter credential has generated remarkable interest in six months of existence. Heres why:

With over 1,500 individuals credentialed since January 1, ABC's Registered Fitter credential is providing industry professionals with a new opportunity to gain designation from the foremost credentialing organization in orthotics and prosthetics.

Following the stated aims of the ABC Board of Directors to expand the scope of credentialing in orthotics and prosthetics, ABC's creation of the Registered Fitter program allows individuals engaged in the fitting of orthotic and/or mastectomy devices the opportunity to join the most prestigious credentialing body in the profession. Held in accordance with the high professional standards of all ABC programs, the Registered Fitter credential is currently awarded to individuals on the basis of their work experience.

President Jack Uellendahl, CPO, views this approach as a step in the right direction for ABC. "Rewarding orthotic and post-mastectomy fitting professionals for their years of experience has allowed us [ABC] to form a solid foundation for our new credential. With hundreds of individuals credentialed, we now have a sufficient number of individuals to proceed with surveying the profession and creating a practice analysis of the disciplines of orthotic and post-mastectomy fitting. This is a crucial step in formulating a valid and contemporary examination."

Mr. Uellendahl was also quick to point out that in the 55-year history of ABC credentialing, this has been the most successful start of any credentialing program.

The Perspective of a New ABC Registered Fitter

Vivian Athley, RFOM, is a newly registered fitter of orthotics and mastectomy products. For her, the opportunity to gain credentials from the American Board for Certification was an easy decision. "Working in an office with ABC orthotists and prosthetists, I have always seen the respect they receive by being a part of such an organization. I feel honored to be a member of this elite group. Integrity and credibility, to me, are two of the most important qualities a person or company can have. ABC has both of these, plus high professional standards. As a result, they receive the respect they deserve by not compromising."

Mrs. Athley's praise reflects a central reason for the initial success of ABC's fitter credential: O&P professionals, their patients, and third-party payers are aware of the industry-wide respect for the high standards that ABC represents.

A Few Facts about the Program

As with all ABC credentials, Registered Fitters are required to adhere to ABC's Mandatory Continuing Education (MCE) program and to abide by the Canons of Ethical Conduct. Providing a high comfort level for patients, these two requirements ensure that the 1,500 plus individuals credentialed by ABC remain at the forefront of professional developments in patient care and business practices.

The 2003 ABC Scope of Practice, a review/breakdown of the orthotic and prosthetic practice, clearly defines the roles these new credentials represent. An ABC Registered Fitter-Orthotics is defined as an individual trained and qualified to participate in the fitting and delivery of prefabricated orthotic devices and/or soft goods, and who is competent to practice orthotics of this specific nature. Individuals trained and qualified to participate in the fitting and delivery of breast prostheses and mastectomy products and services are granted the ABC Registered Fitter-Mastectomy credential. Eligible individuals whose practice fit these descriptions are encouraged to seek one or both of the credentials.

Registered Fitters are listed on ABC's online directory at www.abcop.org . This resource lists information regarding all practitioners, technicians, assistants, fitters, and facilities who are credentialed by ABC. A facility accreditation process is under development for mastectomy fitting locations.

The stunning success of this program will undoubtedly have an effect on the future of ABC programs, first by raising expectations for future credentialing programs and reinforcing the Board of Director's decision to seek a facility accreditation program for mastectomy fitting practices. As ABC predicted, there are many individuals in the O&P profession who hold a great amount of interest in gaining credentials issued by the American Board for Certification.

For further information on ABC's Registered Fitter credentialing program, visit www.abcop.org   or call the ABC office, 703.836.7114.

Thomas H. Derrick Certification Program Coordinator American Board for Certification in Orthotics & Prosthetics