The name Sidney Fishman should be familiar to anyone interested in the history of O&P in the United States. It is difficult to overstate the impact Fishman had on O&P education and research during his 50-year career.
In addition to “inaugurating and directing the first accredited four-year, college-level program in prosthetics and orthotics,” he authored many articles and textbooks, some of which remain foundational resources in O&P education.1 Fishman earned a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University in 1949 and was a frequent advocate for the role of psychology in O&P education and practice. In a 1960 article in the Orthopedic and Prosthetic Appliance Journal, he provided perspectives on O&P education and reiterated these points in an article published in the inaugural issue of Prosthetics and Orthotics International (POI) in1977.2,3 In these articles, Fishman describes the variations in skill level exhibited by different practitioners in different areas of practice and acknowledges that variation “is to be expected and is a good thing.”2 However, he also cautions that “there is far too much difference between the capabilities of various practitioners. This disparity, this lack of balance, may be attributed to the fact that there is no orderly, organized, systematic scheme of training and education in which all prosthetists-orthotists participate prior to their entry into this field. Consequently, the level of a person’s professional ability is more dependent upon chance exposure to various experiences than on any planned educational program.”2