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Orthopedic Specialty Certification Gains Ground Employers and Credential Holders See Positive Impact

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While it may be premature to predict all the benefits the BOC Board Certified Specialist in Orthopedics (BCS-O) credential can offer Athletic Trainers (ATs), we are starting to see that it is being accepted in place of other required credentials for certain positions and roles, such as assisting in the operating room or scrub privileges. We have also seen ATs with the credential being promoted within their field.

The road to continued success with the BCS-O credential is ongoing advocacy and education to ATs with a focus in orthopedics, as well as employers. The BCS-O demonstrates to potential employers and co-workers an increased understanding of the unique value a specialist brings to health care teams. In addition to individual development, credential holders see this new specialty driving the advancement of the profession.

“The BCS-O sets someone apart – with this credential, they can work in any clinic with enough knowledge and background to be highly effective. Armed with this specialty ATs will be better positioned to work within the orthopedic field where they are highly valued by employers for increasing throughput, serving as an extension of the physician, connecting systems to create efficiency, and building patient relationships.”

– Leah Palmer, MS, ATC, LAT, BCS-O

Senior Athletic Trainer Manager with Baylor College of Medicine and member of the Orthopedic Specialty Exam (OSE) Exam Development Committee

Feedback from two cohort surveys facilitated in 2022 and 2023, continues to show a variety of benefits including role enhancement and increased value. Nearly all felt supported by their employers in achieving this specialty certification, and plan to encourage others to take the BOC Orthopedic Specialty Exam (OSE).

The BOC OSE is developed by experts in the orthopedic field based on the content of the Orthopedic Practice Analysis, creating an exam beyond the entry-level content of the ATC® exam. The OSE is developed with the highest standards, validity and reliability, and the BOC is seeking third-party accreditation from the National Commission on Certifying Agencies for this specialty certification.

“The basis of this exam is a boost above entry-level and includes content a step above in the orthopedic world. The BOC’s orthopedic specialty is much more than a certificate earned after a day-long seminar. This is the only board-certified orthopedic specialty for ATs with advanced knowledge, skills and experience in orthopedics. It’s a major step on a pathway toward improved working conditions, compensation, advancement and respect in the health care community.”

– Joe Cygan, MS, ATC, BCS-O

Previously clinical coordinator at the Steadman Clinic and member of the OSE Development Committee

The OSE takes place twice yearly, first in February, and the second offering in September to align with the completion dates of orthopedic residency programs. To find out more about eligibility pathways and requirements, visit the Orthopedic Specialty section of the BOC website. In addition, you can opt-in to receive updates on specialties through your preferences in your BOC profile.

This article was originally published in the 2023 winter "Cert Update" newsletter.

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