Post graduate certificate in prosthetics and orthotics from strathclyde university

A big thank you to Anna Gibbs for answering our questions

1. What is your current job title? What is it exactly that you do? I am a Registered Prosthetic Technician RTP(c). I fabricate upper and lower limb prostheses for pediatric and adult clients in a rehab hospital.

2. What attracted you the most to myoelectrics? I didn’t intentionally set out to work in myo specifically. After graduation I was fortunate to work in facilities that had a need for it and people experienced to teach me. I think it’s important to keep an open mind about the type of work that you want to do…sometimes the right mentor or facility can make the work most rewarding. I enjoy working with myo technology because I like the trouble-shooting aspect and continued learning as the field continues to develop.

3. How long was the program you took? How was it like having it done online? Was it difficult to juggle with work? What sort of knowledge did you gain from it? Here is a link to the program https://www.strath.ac.uk/courses/postgraduatetaught/prostheticsorthoticsrehabilitationstudies/. As you’ll see, the Certificate (PgCert) is part of the same program as the Diploma and MSc. I took on the maximum recommended workload of three courses per year (20 credits each =60 credits) to achieve the Certificate. I selected Orthotic Studies, Prosthetic Studies and Intro to Biomechanics. So, it took me one year. The program is designed for people already working in the field so it is manageable, but of course it requires self-discipline, as it’s entirely online (although MSc. level requires some travel to Scotland for group work). I didn’t find it difficult to juggle with work. Working in such a large hospital was a benefit as I had access to Prosthetists, Orthotists, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and a Librarian as resources (there is a lot of independent research to be done)! They were all a huge help to me, sharing client case studies and reviewing some of my work. It was more difficult to juggle with having a busy life outside of work. A lot of late nights and turning down weekend plans, but that’s to be expected! Although three courses doesn’t sound like a lot, it is intense and the level of knowledge expected for successful completion is very high. The GBC Technician Program was a good foundation and some of the content was like a “refresher”. There is a great deal of emphasis on properly researching journal articles, which was somewhat new to me (see #8), and although tedious at times, it was probably one of the most valuable elements. It taught me to look at things more objectively. One thing I found frustrating was the difference in some terminology with this being a UK-based program. I was expecting it to be the same. My main goal going into the program was simply to increase my knowledge and improve my skills as an instructor and technician. I felt that it did.

4. Did more opportunities become available to you since you've received the certificate? No. At least not directly, but that was not the immediate goal/expectation. I do feel that having some University level P&O education would be of benefit though, and there is the possibility to later complete the Diploma or MSc.

5. What sort of challenges do you face daily? Juggling the workload to meet timelines; there are often unexpected repairs or a need to complete something quickly for special circumstances. As an instructor, a common challenge is trying to establish a reliable, user-friendly way to document fabrication procedures.

6. Is there more area for growth within the field? If so, what is the next step? Finding ways for technology, such as 3-D printing, to merge happily into our field! There needs to be more of a connection with related fields like engineering. I also feel like some of the traditional fabrication techniques and materials need to be updated to achieve better results for our clients, which can also save time and money.

7. What is the work-life balance like? How many hours a week do you work? My workplace offers a compressed workweek, so I work longer days but have every other Monday off. It averages 37.5 hrs a week. When teaching at GBC I take every Monday morning off instead. There is the opportunity for occasional overtime but I would say very good work-life balance.

8. If you have anything else you would like the share, please let us know. The more information we receive the better! Under the requirements to apply for the program, it states “Honours University degree” OR professional qualification acceptable to the program director. I was accepted by putting together an application package with reference letters outlining my work/teaching/continuing education experience/conference presentations, as I did not have an undergraduate degree. At the time I was the first technician to apply to the program. Most other students in the program are Clinicians, surgeons or therapists working in P&O. Although some projects required me to do additional research as I have very limited direct client contact, I felt like this program was the best possible opportunity to gain a higher level of education that directly applied to my work.

Anna Gibbs is a Registered Prosthetic Technician RTP(c) working at Holland Bloor view Children’s Hospital in Toronto, Ontario. 

Anna Gibbs is a Registered Prosthetic Technician RTP(c) working at Holland Bloor view Children’s Hospital in Toronto, Ontario.