Reprinted from Orthopedic Technology Review, March, 2004
ASOP: A Unifying Entity
Established in 1999, the American Society of Orthopedic Professionals offers its members the benefits of education, information, and certification.
The Internet is not just a tool for finding movie listings or selling a boat. Since February 1999, it has been used to unify, instruct, and certify allied health professionals in orthopedic practices throughout the country. The American Society of Orthopedic Professionals (ASOP) is a 2,000-member organization that offers its members information and educational opportunities—including the ability to become a Registered Orthopedic Technologist (ROT).
A Cross-Training Concept
The brainchild of ASOP director Charles Barocas, CO, ROT, the organization reflects his Vietnam-era Army experience. During his training, Barocas, who received the Purple Heart during his service in the Vietnam War, was, along with his fellow soldiers, cross-trained in a variety of military functions. He saw a parallel in the orthopedic world where a wide variety of allied health professionals from radiologic technologists to medical assistants to orthopedic technologists work side by side and may have to move into each other’s position when necessary. “When I was in the Army]soldiers were given broad training where they could move into someone else’s position, if needed,” he says. “Likewise, I wanted to see that same range of training made available for everyone working in an orthopedic office. Ultimately, this broadly trained individual will be recognized as a certified orthopedic allied professional.” Barocas exemplifies the cross-training concept. He is a radiologic technologist, an orthopedic technologist, and an ABC certified orthotist.
At the core of the Web site are the online certification tests that members can take. The tests are free of charge and are an open book format that can be completed at the member’s own pace. The different certifications reflect the different roles in an orthopedist’s office. The OAP(C) examination is recommended for those, like emergency medical technicians, medical assistants, and x-ray technologists, who work in parallel or support orthopedic staff. The examination is designed to demonstrate knowledge. Those taking the test are allowed to use all the resources at their disposal including orthopedic texts, the Internet, and colleagues. The test is designed to take 5 to 10 hours. A passing grade is 85% or better. There is no charge if the test has to be retaken. The ASOP encourages those who do casting or bracing to consider taking the registered orthopedic technologist certification test. This free examination is focused on office-based orthopedic procedures. Upon joining the ASOP, those wishing to take the ROT test will receive a free 200-page orthopedic study guide. After joining the ASOP, members have 10 months to take the examination. They also must earn 12 continuing education hours, which are provided free by ASOP email, per year. The examination can be taken over several days or in one sitting. The practical component of the examination can be taken at the applicant’s office. If the test is failed, it can be retaken free of charge.
The Benefits of Membership
In addition to certification, benefits of belonging to the ASOP include discounts from orthopedic manufacturers, discounts on ASOP meetings and workshops, bimonthly ASOP newsletters, and ASOP credit cards.
The ASOP offers hands-on monthly casting and bracing workshops. In October 2003, the ASOP began a 14-city tour of the 2-day symposiums. Other educational programs that are in the planning stages includes a 6-month directed orthopedic technology home study course that is mixed with on-the-job training.
The organization’s New Fitter Friendly Program is designed to help promote high-level training and documentation standards for new orthopedic products. The ASOP has sponsorship agreements with many of the major orthopedic manufacturers.
Educational programs and certification examinations are only the beginning of the ASOP’s activities. Beginning in the summer of 2005, the organization will hold an annual national meeting in Las Vegas. Manufacturers will be invited to show their wares and members will have the opportunity to learn new techniques. Las Vegas will then serve as the ASOP headquarters for 6 months a year; for the balance of the year, it will be headquartered in Seminole, Fl.
Barocas plans to take on an activist role, lobbying various state governments to push for orthopedic technologist licensure, which is a goal of the ASOP. “As a radiologic technologist, I have to be licensed, but to apply a cast, which is one of the most dangerous things you can do in an orthopedic office, there is no license required,” he says. “ASOP is going to change that. With the new dues requirement, ASOP will be able to hire attorneys and lobbyists to push for orthopedic technologist licensure.”