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Orthotic Fitter Certification Requirements Revised

July 13, 2010

FOR RELEASE: Immediately
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BOC Revises Requirements for Orthotic Fitter Certification

Visit the Certified Orthotic Fitter page to learn more about the COF program and current requirements for candidates.

After a recent review and analysis of assessment and testing procedures for certification as an orthotic fitter (COF), the Board of Certification/Accreditation International (BOC), has updated its COF requirements. Like the BOC Mastectomy Fitter and BOC Pedorthist credentials, the COF designation will be awarded based upon three requirements: completion of a required course of study, experience in patient care under appropriate supervision, and passing a three-hour multiple-choice examination that is conducted four times each year in more than 150 cities.

“The demand for certification in orthotic fitting is growing,” says BOC president Claudia Zacharias, MBA, CAE. “When several respected education providers suggested we re-evaluate the criteria for the COF, we launched an analysis of the program requirements. Our Board strongly believes it is important to increase the number of qualified health care providers available to patients. Through the review and analysis process, we have been able to establish a certification level that allows practitioners whose work focuses on fitting the most-in-demand devices – orthotic, mastectomy and pedorthic – to follow similar qualification stages in education, experience and examination requirements. This will streamline the certification process and encourage practitioners to consider learning to fit multiple devices, enhancing their value to patients and to other health care providers.”

“Just as technology and health care needs drive changes in scopes of practice, the needs and demands in our field will drive changes in the ways we evaluate skills,” notes Sharon Nichelson, CMOF, chairwoman of BOC’s Board of Directors. “Most practitioners begin their careers in one specialty. I believe this change will encourage people in two ways: First, it will encourage people to earn orthotic fitter certification because it makes the process clearer and more affordable. Second, it will encourage people who already hold certification in fitting one type of device to consider adding an additional credential. For all of us who fit O&P devices, patient care is a bedrock skill. When we expand our ability to help patients, not only is it satisfying and rewarding, but it expands our ability as members of the health care team to work toward overall wellness. It also increases our value to our patients and to our employers, which makes it a triple win.”

BOC’s decision effectively “retires” a formerly mandatory video practical examination (VPE) in the orthotic fitter certification process. The VPE was intended to demonstrate a fitter’s unsupervised abilities. BOC’s multi-year analysis of the added value of the video portion of the exam led to a conclusion that the multiple-choice exam was a sufficient assessment tool. In addition, BOC has refined and extended its experience requirements, making the video an unnecessary step to orthotic fitter certification — a step that imposed undue burden to candidates in terms of both time and money to produce. BOC COFs can practice in a variety of settings – hospitals, clinics, along with orthotists or independently. The change will translate quickly to improved access to care, especially in areas where access to O&P practitioners is limited.

The COF change, Zacharias says, will ultimately make quality care more available. “That’s something we are pleased to support while maintaining the psychometric soundness that characterizes all BOC certifications,” she adds. “Whether a certification candidate wants to specialize in fitting orthotics, in working with mastectomy patients or in focusing on pedorthic patients– or wants to acquire certifications in two or more of the three arenas– BOC certification signifies the professionalism that turns a job into a career.”

BOC offers the only NCCA-accredited COF certification. NCCA is the acronym for The National Commission for Certifying Agencies, which accredits certification programs across the healthcare landscape. NCCA uses a peer review process to evaluate the administrative, technical and psychometric aspects of how a certification’s requirements and assessment tools are developed and maintained. The process includes a detailed review of the development of certification requirements and assessment tools, including the qualification and diversity of subject matter experts and the psychometric tools used to verify validity and reliability of the program. By following NCCA’s administrative and psychometric requirements, BOC demonstrates that its certification programs are valid and reliable. All BOC certifications are NCCA-accredited.

Since 1984, the Board of Certification/Accreditation, International (BOC) has provided credentials demonstrating the competence and proficiency of O&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-certified practitioners and BOC-accredited facilities.