DATE: July 7, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Carli Cohen, 410-581-6222
Countdown Update: What to Expect on January 1, 2013
In an open letter sent today to the Board of Certification/Accreditation International’s (BOC’s) certificants, accredited facilities, and other key stakeholders, BOC’s Board Chairwoman and Chief Staff Executive emphasized the organization’s continuing commitment to what has become known as “The Historic Agreement.”
Signed in 2008 by the leaders of five of the national organizations representing the clinical, business, and quality improvement aspects of the Orthotic and Prosthetic (O&P) professions, the agreement was the result of discussions to forge a consensus regarding the minimum standards necessary for education and training of providers of custom orthotics and prosthetics. The five organizations were:
- American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP)
- American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics (ABC)
- American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA)
- Board of Certification/Accreditation International (BOC)
- National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP)
Today’s letter from Sharon Nichelson, COF, CMF, who serves as chairwoman of BOC’s Board of Directors, and Claudia Zacharias, MBA, CAE, President and CEO, was prompted, as the letter indicates, by ongoing questions received during BOC representatives’ travels to conferences and meetings across the country.
“The most frequent question we’ve been getting this year from practitioners is, ‘Will the new requirements as of January 1, 2013 affect current BOC practitioners?’ ” note Nichelson and Zacharias. “The answer to that is that a practitioner who is a BOC Orthotist (BOCO®) and/or Prosthetist (BOCP®) prior to this date and who remains in good standing will not need to fulfill the 2013 requirement. This ‘grand-fathering’ is a standard practice in any profession when requirements change.”
These changes will not affect current or future BOC-certified Pedorthists (BOCPD™), Orthotic Fitters (COF®), or Mastectomy Fitters (CMF®).
The other concern that is frequently shared comes from Board-eligible Orthotists and Prosthetists, who ask if the requirements will be changed for those already “in the pipeline.” The BOC leaders explain, “The reason the agreement allowed for a four year implementation process was so prospective certificants who were preparing to earn certification would not be penalized by changing minimum requirements. Candidates who complete the current eligibility requirements and submit their applications as of December 31, 2012, will proceed under the requirements that were in effect on the date of application. Any candidates who apply after January 1, 2013 will need to be in full compliance with the new standards.”
Now that BOC is more than halfway through the “pipeline” period, Nichelson and Zacharias believe the reasons behind the agreement are “more valid than ever.” Advances in technology, materials, equipment, and treatment options will require incoming practitioners to know more and have a common solid educational background, positioning them for lifelong continuing education.
The new standards will require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Candidates must earn that degree at an institution accredited by CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs) or earn a bachelor’s degree and then complete a certificate in Orthotics and/or Prosthetics at a CAAHEP-accredited educational institution. The latest list of CAAHEP-accredited programs may be found at http://www.ncope.org/. In the letter, it is noted, “… you will see that the profession is going to an all-Master’s minimum. NCOPE’s transition plan will allow for enrollment in post-baccalaureate certificate programs through 2014; most if not all certificate programs will be closed by then.”
The standards also require training in the form of a minimum of one year of structured clinical affiliation, also known as a “residency,” under the direct supervision of a duly certified individual in the same discipline.
The letter lists four associated changes, “not necessarily immediate but all of them positive.” These are:
- greater respect and stature for O&P among the health professions
- more schools establishing O&P programs
- more time for practitioners to focus on patient care
- continued growth for BOC as a certification provider
“Higher educational requirements are almost inevitable as professions mature. We’re seeing it in any number of fields,” Nichelson and Zacharias say.
The letter concludes, “Even as the world around us changes, we are committed to preserving our history and heritage as an organization that cares. We’re just as dedicated as ever to serving you, so you can serve your patients.”
Since 1984, The Board of Certification/Accreditation, International (BOC) has provided credentials demonstrating the competence and proficiency of OP&P professionals. BOC offers NCCA-accredited certification programs in five disciplines: orthotics, prosthetics, pedorthics, orthotic fitting, and mastectomy fitting. BOC’s facility accreditation program partners with DMEPOS suppliers to meet standards set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and improve business practices. BOC credentials celebrate and recognize the competence, professionalism, and safe practice environments of BOC-related practitioners and BOC-accredited facilities. For more information, please visit www.bocusa.org.