CPOh: How to Get More Out of Your Prosthetic Certification

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As an American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics (ABC)-certified prosthetist (CP), you may have been told that you would be a more valuable practitioner if you had your orthotics certification too, in other words, if you were a CPO (certified prosthetist/orthotist). In certain instances this may be true. But this article explains how you could perform custom orthotics activities without having to go back to school to earn an orthotics certification.

If you are a CP who wants to perform activities related to the fitting of certain custom orthotic devices, you should review the last few pages of ABC’s Scope of Practice for the means by which a CP can become “privileged” to perform orthotics-related activities. First, you need the desire or motivation to perform custom orthotics-related functions and your employer needs to be willing to invest the time to train you and assign a certified orthotist (CO) to supervise your orthotic patient care activities. The three key points of ABC’s privileging process, according to excerpts from its Scope of Practice, are as follows:

Privileging of credentialed individuals to provide services beyond their defined scope of practice must ensure appropriate, effective, ethical, and safe delivery of patient care. The credentialed caregiver (in this case, a CP) may be privileged, under Indirect Supervision, to provide care beyond the scope of their credential based on Written Objective Criteria. Privileging of a credentialed caregiver is limited to the following: prosthetists, pedorthists, orthotic assistants, and orthotic fitters who are credentialed by a nationally recognized orthotic, prosthetic, and pedorthic certifying board and are licensed, if applicable, may be privileged based on Written Objective Criteria to provide orthotic care.1

Indirect Supervision does not require the supervising credentialed individual (a CO working for your employer) to be on-site, however he or she must be available for consultation throughout the patient care process. Your supervising CO must review the results of care and the documentation of services rendered by the supervised individual and is responsible for countersigning within 15 days all entries in the patient’s clinical record.1 Note: The CO supervising your custom orthotics-related activities would ultimately take full responsibility for your orthotic patient interactions.

Written Objective Criteria is the means by which a privileged caregiver’s ability to provide a specific patient care service has been assessed and documented. The structure and mechanism of how the caregiver has gained the necessary knowledge and skills must be clear and related to the diagnosis involved and the orthosis being provided. This documentation may take different forms including, but not limited to, proof of completion of continuing education courses related to a particular diagnosis or device, documented in-house training/in-services that are specific to the patient care service that the caregiver is being privileged to provide, and/or documented specific work experience participating in patient care activities.1

Based on this information, there is no need for a CP to go back to school to become a CPO. If your employer is committed to train, supervise, and take full responsibility for your orthotics-related activities, you may become a “CPOh”—as in “Oh, look what else I can do as a prosthetist to bring value to my employer.” Be aware that this privileging is not transferable from one O&P business to another, however.

(Authors note: CPOh is not an ABC-approved certification.)

Peter Seaman, CP, CTP, a graduate of Century College, works for Independence Prosthetics-Orthotics, Newark, Delaware. He can be reached at .


  1. American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics 2012. Orthotic, Prosthetic, and Pedorthic Scope of Practice 22-4.

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