|Edward S. Neumann, PhD, PE, CP|
The quality of today’s accredited and candidate O&P degree and certificate programs may well determine the fate of the profession during the next twenty years. Will the graduates coming out of these programs have the skills and capabilities needed to make the theoretical, technical, and clinical advances necessary to retain a leadership role in the field of rehabilitation? Or will the role of the CP, CO, and CPO diminish as the knowledge levels and skills of other health care disciplines evolve more rapidly than ours? Can we legitimately claim that the orthotist/prosthetist who graduates from the accredited and candidate programs will possess skills and knowledge that can be attained only from those programs? Or can a case be made that someone with less than a baccalaureate degree, who apprentices under an experienced practitioner rather than seeking a formal education via one of the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE)-accredited programs, will wind up possessing equivalent knowledge and skill?