This week the Senate will start debate on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which lays out the 2021 budget and expenditures of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and creates new programs within the DoD. Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and David Purdue (R-GA) have introduced an amendment to the bill which would provide competitive grants to universities to create or expand graduate degree programs in orthotics and prosthetics. Please take a few minutes to write your Senators and urge them to support this amendment.
An increased orthotic and prosthetic workforce is essential to support military readiness and ensure that servicemembers who experience limb loss or limb impairment are able to receive the expert orthotic and prosthetic care they need and deserve. Over the past decade, new technologies and devices have been developed to address the increasingly complex medical conditions facing the growing population of men and women who have served our country in the Armed Forces. To take advantage of these innovations, clinicians require more sophisticated and advanced training, with entry level positions in orthotics and prosthetics requiring a master’s degree from an accredited institution and completion of a residency program. These programs are costly to establish and sustain, requiring extensive hands-on lab work and equipment.
Despite the growing demand for orthotic and prosthetic care, there are only twelve schools offering a master’s degree program in this field, collectively graduating fewer than 250 students per year. A 2015 study from the National Commission on Orthotics and Prosthetics Education (NCOPE) concluded that the workforce of credentialed orthotic and prosthetic providers needs to increase by about 60 percent by 2025 to meet the growing demand for care.
All it takes is two minutes to send a letter to your Senators asking them to include orthotic and prosthetic workforce pilot program language in the NDAA legislation. Doing this can make a tremendous difference. We appreciate your commitment to ensuring that future Wounded Warriors with limb loss and limb impairment will be able to receive the quality orthotic and prosthetic care they need and deserve.
Questions may be directed to Justin Beland, AOPA’s Director of Government Affairs at jbeland@AOPAnet.org.