Professional Development and Recognition Flourish
As the early 1980s got underway, the Academy continued to pursue the recognition of the profession and the professional development of its members. It began formalizing professional liaisons with other medical and allied healthcare organizations such as the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the American Physical Therapy Association, and the American Occupational Therapy Association. Along with these partnerships, in 1983, the Academy successfully gained recognition by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) for ABC-certified prosthetists and orthotists.
This milestone led to even higher aspirations for professional development, as a group of former Academy presidents founded the organization's College Fund. The goal of the College Fund was the eventual development of a doctoral degree program in orthotics and prosthetics. Although controversial at the time, the fund raised well over $100,000 in its first three years. Donations primarily came from within the profession, including many from Academy member practitioners with a strong commitment to higher education.
In 1984, to further its educational aspirations, the Academy developed and published educational information for consumers. The Academy published its first patient-oriented Care & Use Guide in 1986 on plastic ankle/foot orthoses. This effort was spearheaded by the College Fund, which awarded a $1,000 scholarship to a second-year orthotic or prosthetic student who produced the best manuscript on a consumer-related subject. The success of this publication led to a second edition of the guide, Care & Use Guide for the Below-Knee Amputee.
Also in 1984, the Academy formalized its support of the existing orthotic and prosthetic education programs by joining with AOPA to fund biannual meetings of the Committee on Orthotic/Prosthetic Education (COPE) and the University Council of Orthotic/Prosthetic Educators (UCOPE), an effort to ensure greater continuity of subject matter taught to entry-level students and to better address the needs and concerns of education programs. This led to a formal merger of COPE and UCOPE into one organization, the National Association of Prosthetic-Orthotic Educators (NAPOE), which represented all of the orthotic and prosthetic programs recognized at that time by the Education Accreditation Commission (EAC).
Taking a more formal approach to professional development and continuing education, the Academy held its first national Continuing Education Conference (CEC) in Chicago in 1984. The first CEC focused on current clinical concepts in upper-limb prosthetics and was held in Thorn Hall on the campus of Northwestern University Medical School.
Thorn Hall had been the site of the first nationally-organized meeting on orthotic and prosthetic technology, where the Department of Defense brought together officials from federal and private organizations to address the needs of disabled veterans. This meeting led to the first course on above-knee prosthetics at the University of California at Los Angeles. The Academy's 1984 CEC was the last formal meeting on prosthetics held at Thorn Hall, which was later demolished to make way for expansion of the university.
Starting in 1985, the Academy sponsored a series of five CECs annually. The CECs were hosted in different geographical regions to offer continuing education to as many practitioners as possible. They were often co-sponsored by the Academy's regional and state chapters.
Along with initiating its CEC Program in 1984, the Academy expanded the content of its Annual Membership Meeting to include a greater number of scientific presentations and exhibits by manufacturers and suppliers of O&P components and materials. The Academy further enhanced its annual membership event by calling it the Academy Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium, a name which better recognized the professional content and significance of the meeting.
Underscoring the Academy's commitment to continuing education, in 1985, the board of directors unanimously adopted a program for enhancing professional and ethical competence through mandatory continuing education (MCE). The Academy bylaws were changed to add MCE as a prerequisite for Active membership in the Academy. In part due to the Academy's efforts toward continuing education and competency, in 1988, ABC adopted the same MCE requirements for all newly-certified practitioners. Like members of the Academy, all ABC-certified practitioners were required to earn a minimum of 75 continuing education units (CEUs) every five years to maintain their certification.
That same year, in order to enhance and broaden the sphere of knowledge on orthotics and prosthetics, the Academy's journal, Clinical Prosthetics & Orthotics, was merged with AOPA's Orthotics & Prosthetics Journal to become the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics (JPO). Charles H. Pritham, CPO, was appointed editor-in-chief. Although the combined publications remained quarterly, the new journal grew to 64 pages, placed more emphasis on research-based articles, and instituted a comprehensive peer-review process for all manuscripts.
In 1989, the Academy joined forces with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to co-sponsor a consensus conference on the emerging technology of computer-aided design and computer-assisted manufacturing (CAD/CAM). This conference brought together an international delegation of researchers and practitioners involved in this advanced area of technology to better assess and determine the future of the delivery of orthotic and prosthetic healthcare services.
Also in 1989, in acknowledgment of developing technology's effects on the educational needs of the profession, the Academy took on the task of establishing new academic and clinical "essentials" for students enrolled in O&P schools. This effort led to a major restructuring of the O&P education accreditation process and spurred the creation of the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) as the primary accreditation organization for O&P educational and residency programs. The Academy's involvement contributed to the development of these education essentials and, eventually, the official recognition of orthotics and prosthetics as an allied health care profession by the American Medical Association (AMA).
Breaking New Ground >>>