|Don Katz, CO, FAAOP|
Bold. Visionary. These words describe the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (the Academy) Advanced Education & Research Training Initiative (AERTI) which has the lofty goal of increasing the academic and research capacity of the O&P profession by tenfold.
Developing evidence-based practice protocols in prosthetics and orthotics is a crucial necessity that is increasingly being recognized by O&P clinicians, other healthcare professionals, consumers, payers, and the public.
It’s like climbing a ladder. First, researchers are needed, then research projects must be conducted, then the O&P profession can move forward up the ladder in achieving evidence-based practice.
It takes sound research to establish evidence-based practice, but where will the qualified researchers come from?
Under the auspices of the Academys Project Quantum Leap (PQL), an umbrella program for several multi-year projects to advance the orthotic and prosthetic profession, the initiative aims to develop a wellspring of academic leaders and research scientists who are prosthetists and orthotists or are in fields with strong ties to P&O.
“It was quite apparent to the Academy that we need to advance evidence-based practice as much as possible, but we realized we were not going to successfully accomplish that unless we had more O&P professionals with advanced degrees to serve as primary investigators or at least participate in clinically based research,” said Don Katz, CO, FAAOP, past Academy president, vice chair of the Academys Research Council, and previous chair of the Academys Research and Development Committee. “The genesis of the advanced degree initiative was, We need to get more of our own-more O&P clinicians or those with a relevant background or specific interest in orthotics and prosthetics to help move the whole concept of evidence-based practice forward.”
Katz continued, “We kept looking at ourselves and asking, Why is this not really happening? We could just throw up our hands and say, Well, its always going to be a tough row to hoe because we are not trained as researchers-or we could change that!”
The Academy realized that the only avenues for earning a PhD related to P&O were outside the US-the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland; the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in China; and LaTrobe University in Melbourne, Australia. “Now, however, advanced degree programs are really starting to gain momentum in the United States,” Katz noted.
The initiative followed two conferences in 2004, one in March in Seattle, Washington, and one in July in Chicago, Illinois. The multidisciplinary meetings included orthopedic surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, engineers, and educators, as well as O&P clinicians. The insight of those in other disciplines was invaluable as to how to develop pathways for advanced degrees in O&P and developing a talent pool of research scientists and academic leaders, Katz observed.
|The AERTI report summarizes four key recommendations as the cornerstone of the initiative:
Implementation of these recommendations will result in, according to the report:
- Creation of an environment that fosters self-sustaining research efforts and produces peer-review P&O
research that advances evidence-based practice;