Pre-Orthotics and Prosthetics: Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology with a Concentration in Health Sciences
The orthotics and prosthetics program at Marian University is an undergraduate track that prepares you to be a competitive candidate for admission to orthotic and/or prosthetic programs after completing your bachelor’s degree.
According to the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE):
- An orthotic practitioner or orthotist designs, fabricates, and fits custom-made and pre-fabricated orthopedic braces or “orthoses” and provides related care for patients.
- A prosthetic practitioner or prosthetist designs, fabricates, and fits custom-made artificial limbs and devices, providing related patient care.
Both orthotists and prosthetists (referred to as O&P practitioners by NCOPE) are key members of healthcare and rehabilitation teams. What do they do?
- Orthotists use devices to modify or correct functional and structural characteristics of the human skeletal and neuromuscular systems. Pedorthists specialize in the anatomy and biomechanics of human feet and lower limbs. Both provide services and devices are to improve movement, correct deformities, or relieve pain.
- Prosthetists work with diverse patients of all ages and backgrounds who have lost arms, legs, hands, fingers, feet, toes, ears, noses, and eyes due to trauma, cancer, infection, birth defects, neuromuscular or skeletal conditions, disease, illness, or injuries.
- O&P practitioners provide innovative, caring services for those in need. They conduct patient evaluations, formulate treatment plans, and design/adapt devices using the latest advances in medical artistry to make their work as lifelike as possible.
- They provide follow-up and continued patient care after the device has been properly fitted.
To become an O&P practitioner, you’ll complete a master’s degree program and residency, which is a period of supervised training and practice. Each school is different, but most programs take about 36 months to complete.
After completing this training, you will have the education and experience to pursue national certification through the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics.
The employment outlook for those trained in this field is strong.
- The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the employment outlook for prosthetists through 2026 is expected to grow by 22 percent, which is much faster than average compared to other occupations.
- In 2018, the BLS reports the median pay for prosthetists was $69,120 per year.
In addition to having a career that is in demand and improves quality of life for those in need, you’ll have a unique career that blends art, science, and healthcare in one discipline. These healthcare providers work with medical manufacturers to build and adapt devices that are as life-like as possible.
Advances in medical engineering have given O&P practitioners exciting new tools and options to help their patients, ranging from robotics to 3D printing, laser treatment, and life-like, cutting-edge materials that have been adapted from the aerospace industry.
Why choose the pre-orthotic or pre-prosthetic track at Marian?
According to NCOPE’s opcareers.org website, there are just over one dozen accredited O&P schools in states including Minnesota, Florida, Alabama, Texas, California, Michigan, Georgia, Illinois, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
Gaining admission to one of these schools is a competitive process.
Our pre-professional program takes the guesswork out of preparing for admission to the O&P program of your choosing. You’ll get the expert academic advising, one-on-one mentoring, customized plans of study, and personal attention that can be hard to find at larger universities.
Some universities weigh their admission decisions on certain areas of your application and your academic preparation more heavily than others. These strengths, listed in decreasing order of importance, are among those typically ranked more highly than others.
1. Completion of prerequisite coursework
- Most O&P programs will not accept you for admission if you haven't completed all prerequisite courses, including those related to biology, physiology, anatomy, physics, chemistry, and other subjects.
- With Marian's program, you will complete all prerequisite courses by the end of your junior year, before most students begin applying for admission to their preferred O&P program(s).
2. Grade point average (GPA)
- While the minimum GPA for each O&P school may differ slightly, in general the average cumulative grade point average (GPA) required for admission is 3.0.
- We recommend you strive for a minimum 3.0 GPA, both in your biology and science courses as well as in your overall general education and elective courses.
- Our curriculum is intentionally sequenced so that you'll complete coursework at increasing levels of difficulty throughout our bachelor’s degree program.
- Experienced biology professors will support and guide you every step of the way. Peer tutors and faculty mentors will help you learn the knowledge and skills needed to master each subject.
3. Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
- Depending on the O&P programs and schools in which you are interested, you may need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
- The exam features questions reflective of the types of analytical skills, quantitative reasoning, and written/verbal skills you’ll need for success in a master’s degree program.
- In combination with strategically selected general education and elective courses, Marian’s pre-O&P curriculum will maximize your exposure to the content, problem-solving, and critical analyses tested in the GRE.
4. Clinical Experience (GRE)
- Most O&P programs encourage applicants to have some clinical observation, job shadowing, volunteer, internship, or employment experience in an O&P environment before beginning classes.
- Having relevant experience distinguishes you from other candidates. Some schools may look more favorably upon applicants with some clinical experience.
- Research the clinical experience and professional exposure requirements for the schools of your choice. Be sure to include this experience on your resume and/or admission application.
5. Letters of recommendation
- Clinical experiences are also a great tool for building a professional network and securing letters of recommendation for admission.
- As a student in the Department of Biology at Marian, you'll work closely with teaching and research faculty, building the personal relationships you need for strong letters of recommendation required for admission to the O&P program(s) of your choice.
Many of our pre-O&P students gain experience through internships with local prosthetic and/or orthotic practices and groups, and shadowing technicians and practitioners. For information, talk with one of our faculty advisors and staff at The Exchange.