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Becoming An Orthopedic Physician Extender (OPE)

• 1/15/21

Midland University’s Master of Athletic Training Orthopaedic Specialist Practicum (MAT522) is a one credit course that introduces students to techniques for orthopedic casting/bracing and fitting for custom orthotics. 

During our Orthopaedic Specialist Practicum, students will learn the selection, application, and removal of orthopedic casting for upper and lower extremity disorders. Under the supervision of our expert faculty, students will gain hands-on experience using casting equipment and learn alongside their small group of classmates. 

After the completion of this program, students will be eligible to sit for the Orthopedic Physician Extender (OPE) exam. 

What Can I Do with an OPE?

With an OPE certification, athletic trainers work in an orthopedic setting under an orthopedic physician. In that specialized role, an OPE will be certified to provide the following:

  • Orthopedic Triage 
  • Orthopedic Examination & Clinical Assessment
  • Orthopedic Casting & Bracing Diagnostic 
  • Imaging Review/ Intervention Support
  • Provide Patient Education/Guidance

Not only does this certification allow athletic trainers to specialize in an orthopedic setting, but it also demonstrates the level of knowledge and skills that the candidate has to offer towards the orthopedic profession, such as:

  • Evidenced-based reasoning in the assessment and management for specific musculoskeletal injury/pathology.
  • Appropriate fracture immobilization and identifying the fundamental goals relative to patient care/safety.
  • Understanding of musculoskeletal imaging and intervention strategies/techniques in orthopedic practice.
  • Knowledge of orthopedic healthcare management practices.

Why Take the Exam?

According to the National Board for Certification in Orthopedic Specialities, athletic trainers provide a considerable amount of value to a patient throughout the treatment process. Please note: To become an OPE, you must be a certified athletic trainer, or be in the process of completing an athletic training program. 
To learn more about Midland’s Master of Athletic Training program, please click here.

Heather Hess, MA, ATC, LAT, ROT, OPE-C serves as the Interim Dean of the School of Human Performance and Clinical Coordinator for Midland University.


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