Career Profile: Medical Appliance Technician
Ron Dickey, Medical Appliance Technician, Prosthetic Orthotic Technician, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.
National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education
I chose this career because…
I chose to become a medical appliance technician because it allows me to be an integral part of helping disabled people regain their mobility and independence.
After graduating from high school, I worked for a number of years in the repair and manufacture of boats. My grandfather’s wide knowledge of tools, and my mother’s appreciation of art and design, was influential in my development of hand skills, attention to detail, and creativity.
Eventually, I chose to return to school and continue my education. I wanted a career in a science and health related field that would combine my skills and interests. While researching career possibilities, I found a philosophical similarity between the mechanics of boat building and the making of prostheses and orthoses. They both rely on being structurally strong yet light, comfortable, ultimately safe, and aesthetically handsome. I knew if I could apply my experience with the right education, I might be able to make a difference by helping people who are physically challenged continue with their normal everyday lives. I continued my education at Century College in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. In my opinion, it offers one of the best prosthetic and orthotic technical programs in the country.
â€¢ Associate in Applied Science (A.S.S.), Prosthetic and Orthotic Technology, Century College, White Bear Lake, Minnesota
Certification & Professional Membership
â€¢ American Board Certified Prosthetic – Orthotic Technician, The American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics
â€¢ Member – Orthotic & Prosthetic Technological Association
My typical workday involves…
My typical workday entails providing technical support to a prosthetist or orthotist by designing and fabricating the best device suited for an individualâ€™s needs. Be it a custom made knee-ankle-foot brace, shoe modification, or an electronic prosthetic leg or arm, the challenge is always unique. In this support role, interaction and communication with the prosthetic or orthotic practitioner is very important. Priorities change as patient needs change. A technician must plan carefully and be prepared for changes in order to deliver the best results. Few things are routine in this field, which makes everyday, a day to learn and experience new tasks.
â€¢ Reading and interpretation of fabrication forms
â€¢ Forming, shaping, laminating, and sewing various plastic braces or prosthetic devices prescribed by the practitioner
â€¢ Pouring plaster models
â€¢ Keeping updated with the latest technologies and material sciences
â€¢ Fine-tuning of a device or on-site repairs
â€¢ Keeping inventory and ordering supplies
â€¢ Tracking work from start to finish
â€¢ Assuring quality and compliance to work orders
â€¢ Rendering assistance and sensitivity in prosthetic/orthotic fittings
â€¢ Working as a medical team in solving emergency problems