Skills R.T.P.O. (registered Prosthetic And Orthotic Technician) near Edmonton (AB)

Find out what skills you typically need to work as a R.T.P.O. (registered prosthetic and orthotic technician) in Canada. These skills are applicable to all Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) (NOC 3219).

Skills and knowledge

The following skills and knowledge are usually required in this occupation.

Essential skills

See how the 9 essential skills apply to this occupation.

  • Read notes from co-workers and short text entries in forms. For example, dialysis technologists may read notes in equipment logs about preventive maintenance and repairs to specific haemodialysis machines. Pedorthists read medical prescriptions to learn about doctors' diagnoses and recommendations for treatment. Dietary technicians in hospital care units may read special dietary requests in log books. (1)
  • May read instructions, warnings and procedures for first aid on product labels. For example, orthotic technicians read mixing and drying instructions on labels of glues and liquid adhesives used to build orthotic appliances. Dietary technicians may read warnings about allergens on food product labels. (2)
  • Read e-mail and letters from co-workers, colleagues, suppliers and service providers. For example, dialysis technicians may read e-mail from co-workers to learn about expected delivery dates for supplies. Dietary technicians may read memos from hospital managers about changes to policies and procedures. (2)
  • Read trade magazines, newsletters and equipment catalogues and brochures to learn about new products, events, trends and issues in their fields. For example, dietary technicians may read about certification processes for kosher and organic products in the newsletter Le Son. Orthotic technicians may scan equipment brochures and catalogues to learn the design features of different devices. (2)
  • Read equipment manuals, medical compendia and on-line help files. For example, pedorthists may read about the symptoms, risk factors and treatment of rare medical conditions such as Dupuytren's Contracture in medical encyclopaedias. Dietary technicians may read guidelines for preparing foods for wired jaw diets. Dialysis technologists may read procedures for troubleshooting alarm codes in haemodialysis equipment manuals. (3)
  • Read letters and longer form entries which deal with medical conditions, treatments and patients' histories. For example, prosthetists may read letters in which doctors and physiotherapists describe their patients' conditions, mobility ranges and responses to exercises. Ocularists read instructions from ophthalmologists on referral forms. (3)
  • May read policies, procedures, standards and codes of practice to check compliance and implement any changes. For example, prosthetists read regulations, codes of conduct and best practice guidelines developed by their professional associations. Dietary technicians may review hospital regulations on workplace safety measures to ensure they conform. (4)
  • May read articles in professional journals such as the Journal of Ophthalmic Prosthetists, Dialysis and Transplantation and the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics to increase their knowledge of new appliances, treatment protocols and techniques. For example, prosthetists may read about energy expenditures and gait characteristics of amputees walking with computerized and conventional prostheses. Orthotists may read about non-invasive treatments for major spinal deformities caused by cerebral palsy or scoliosis. Dialysis technologists may read about new techniques to disinfect equipment. (4)
Document use
  • Observe warning and regulatory signs. For example, orthotic and prosthetic technicians observe hazard signs on fabrication equipment. (1)
  • Locate data on product labels. For example, dietary technicians check labels on food products to identify potentially allergenic ingredients. Pedorthists scan the labels of boxes of supplies to locate model numbers, sizes and other data. (1)
  • Locate data in lists, tables and schedules. For example, orthotists verify parts on hand against part lists before assembling complex leg and back braces. Dietary technicians may monitor temperatures in dishwasher and hot food temperature logs to make sure food safety standards are met. Dietary technologists may scan tables to obtain amounts of dry formula needed to make specific volumes of liquid infant formula. Prosthetists may scan hospital surgery schedules for their patients' scheduled amputations. (2)
  • May locate and interpret data in graphs. For example, dietary technologists locate their patients' weight objectives in bar graphs and identify trends in their weight gains and losses. (2)
  • May interpret scale drawings. For example, prosthetists scan scale drawings of prosthetic legs and arms to create customized appendages for their patients. Orthotic technicians may study diagrams of knee joint braces to identify the ranges of movement and leg types associated with different models. (2)
  • Locate data in entry forms. For example, orthotic technicians may obtain measurements of patients' limbs in universal spinal measurement forms and their weights in work orders. Kidney dialysis technicians obtain percentages of chemicals to mix for patients' treatments in prescription forms. (2)
  • Complete forms such as preventive maintenance forms, dialysis log sheets, insurance forms, diet order forms, appliance work orders and employee incident reporting forms. For example, dialysis technologists enter water pressures, temperatures, electrical voltages and other measurements in reporting forms to track haemodialysis equipment performance. Orthotists note patients' measurements in their files to document growth during treatment periods. Prosthetic technicians record dates, materials and production times on appliance work orders. (3)
  • May interpret schematic drawings. For example, dialysis technologists review schematic drawings of haemodialysis machines to aid in troubleshooting electrical malfunctions. Prosthetists identify locations of sensors on schematic drawings of myoelectric hands to properly match sensors and their functions when fitting patients. (3)
  • May interpret radiographs to determine patients' needs for orthotic and prosthetic devices. For example, prosthetists examine patients' radiographs to verify characteristics of the bones at amputation sites prior to moulding and fitting prostheses. Orthotists check bone structures and look for signs of arthritis and ligament damage on patients' radiographs before fitting patients with ankle braces. (3)
  • Write notes to co-workers and short text entries in forms. For example, dietary technicians may write notes to inform supervisors of work completed on weekend shifts. Kidney dialysis technicians write details of patient alerts in log books. Prosthetists may describe their patients' workplace injuries and examinations and recommend treatments in forms for Workers' Compensation Boards. At the conclusion of appointments, orthotists and prosthetists write brief notes to describe patients' conditions, treatment plans and adaptations to using orthoses and prostheses. (2)
  • Write longer e-mail and letters to co-workers, suppliers and service providers to exchange information, make requests, respond to enquiries and coordinate activities. For example, dialysis technologists may write e-mail to co-workers to describe troubleshooting procedures they have found for specific equipment malfunctions. Dietary technicians write memos for co-workers with clear instructions about special diets for patients. Orthotic technicians may write e-mail to suppliers to describe difficulties encountered with orthotic components and ask for technical advice. Ocularists write letters to ophthalmologists to provide information regarding the fitting of patients' prostheses. (2)
  • May write lengthy texts for presentations and brochures. For example, self-employed workers and those who own businesses may write promotional brochures to describe the services they provide. Prosthetists may write texts for presentations which discuss the advantages, design innovations and fabrication of devices such as swimming and skiing prostheses to colleagues. (3)
NumeracyMoney Math
  • may take payment from patients and make change for consultations, appliances and supplies. (1)
  • may calculate invoice amounts for goods and services. For example, self-employed prosthetists, orthotists and ocularists may charge an hourly rate for their services. They add charges for supplies and devices, apply sales taxes and determine total amounts. (3)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • May create, monitor and adjust budgets for labour, supplies and overhead expenses. For example, self-employed prosthetists, orthotists and ocularists may compare actual expenses to budgeted amounts and adjust spending to meet budget targets. (2)
  • Draw up and manage work, appointment and preventive maintenance schedules. For example, prosthetic technicians calculate time intervals for drying resins and plasters to schedule fabrication task when making orthotics. Dialysis technologists may schedule preventive maintenance on haemodialysis machines in patients' homes. They track patients' hours of use of machines to align visits with manufacturer maintenance guidelines. Ocularists determine schedules for patients' follow-up appointments, taking into account lengths of time since surgeries, healing processes, adaptations to prostheses and travel distances. (3)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Measure time, distance, temperature, volume and weight using common measuring tools such as tapes, thermometers and scales. For example, prosthetists measure patients' arms and legs with tape measures to determine lengths, widths and circumferences of limbs. Dietary, orthotic and prosthetic technicians may measure oven and heating unit temperatures. Kidney dialysis technicians measure volumes of disinfecting solution needed to clean dialysis machines. (1)
  • Calculate quantities of materials and supplies for fabrications and treatments. For example, prosthetists and prosthetic technicians may calculate quantities of catalysts, liquid plastics and other compounds required to create prosthetic devices using ratios. Dialysis technologists subtract residual quantities from original quantities to calculate water losses in dialysis units after treatments. Dietary technicians may calculate hourly and daily totals of formula required for infants. (2)
  • May take precise measurements of patients' bodies and prosthetic and orthotic devices with specialized instruments. For example, ocularists may measure the sizes of iris disks with micrometers before fitting patients with ocular prostheses. Prosthetic technicians may measure the torque of leg prosthetics with torque wrenches to check normal twisting forces. Pedorthists measure the thickness of toes using vernier callipers. Prosthetists and orthotists measure patients' range of motion in limbs and ankle and wrist joints using goniometers. (3)
Data Analysis Math
  • Compare measurements and equipment readings to specifications, standards and norms. For example, dialysis technologists compare the conductivity of treated water to specifications. Dietary technicians compare temperature readings in refrigerators to those suggested in public health standards. (1)
  • May manage small inventories of manufacturing material and supplies. For example, prosthetists manage inventories of plaster, plaster bandages, socket materials, suspension sleeves and other materials. They identify rates of use, unit costs for various package sizes and typical delivery times for supplies, and they set optimum stock levels. (2)
  • May collect and analyze medical data for individuals and groups of patients. For example, dietary technologists may monitor volume fluctuations of diabetic patients' residual limbs to identify trends in soft tissue injuries. Ocularists may collect data on the frequency of cysts in patients with hydroxyaptatite implants and calculate rates of occurrence. (3)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate times to complete tasks and times of patients' responses to treatments using past experience as a guide. For example, orthotic technicians may estimate times required to build orthotic devices. Prosthetists may estimate lengths of time for patients to begin walking and times required for swelling to subside before doing fittings. (1)
  • May estimate adjustments to orthotics and prostheses. For example, pedorthists may estimate the thickness they need to remove from orthotics after manually examining the fit. (1)
Oral communication
  • Discuss products, deliveries and other matters with suppliers. For example, prosthetists order parts and discuss terms for payment and delivery with suppliers of prosthetic components. Dietary technicians may call suppliers for more information on ingredients in food products. (1)
  • Discuss technical matters with co-workers, colleagues and suppliers. For example, prosthetic technicians may discuss alternative processes to heat laminated plastic sockets for prosthetic arms with co-workers. Dietary technicians discuss patients' nutrition requirements, food allergies and intolerances with dieticians. Prosthetists discuss treatments for unusual cases such as serious skin conditions at amputation sites with colleagues. Dialysis technologists may discuss equipment malfunctions with suppliers' technical support workers. (2)
  • Interview patients and their families to gather information necessary for treatments. For example, dietary technicians may ask patients questions to determine ethnic and religious dietary restrictions. Ocularists question patients about their normal daily activities to assist in selecting correct pupil sizes for prostheses. Orthotists discuss medical conditions and expectations about orthotic devices with patients. (2)
  • May provide direction and guidance to support workers and junior technicians and technologists in their workplaces. For example, prosthetists may review work plans with junior technicians and offer advice. Dietary technicians may listen to complaints from food service workers under their supervision and propose solutions. (2)
  • Teach, encourage, advise and reassure patients and their families. For example, dialysis technicians explain dialysis treatments to new patients clearly and with empathy to help patients relax. Prosthetists meet with patients' families after surgeries to explain surgical procedures and rehabilitation programs, identify and address psychological concerns and advise ways families can assist patients. Ocularists explain the process of making ocular prostheses, provide patients with instruction for their care and maintenance, discuss apprehensions and express sensitivity to the pain that patients may be experiencing. (3)
  • May make presentations to co-workers, colleagues and the general public. For example, ocularists may make presentations to colleagues at professional conferences on topics such as new treatment protocols. Prosthetists may describe processes to make prosthetic devices to small groups of health care practitioners. Orthotists may make presentations to associations such as the Arthritis Society of Canada and the Canadian Diabetes Association to explain the relief orthotic devices can provide for arthritic discomfort and their role in improving blood circulation. (3)
ThinkingProblem Solving
  • Find that essential supplies are late, unavailable and inadequate. They may search for alternative parts and suppliers and place rush orders when possible. They may fabricate replacement parts. They search to clarify procedures with co-workers if human error is to blame. (2)
  • Find that errors such as double-booked appointments and mistakes in hospital menus reduce the quality of care provided to patients. They discuss the errors with co-workers to understand what happened and they try to improve work methods collaboratively. (2)
  • Experience equipment malfunctions which prevent the timely provision of service to their patients. They attempt troubleshooting procedures and obtain technical support if necessary. They look for alternative methods to provide service and apologize to their patients for delays. (2)
  • May encounter uncooperative, abusive and fearful patients. For example, dietary technicians may discover their seriously overweight patients are eating junk foods which exacerbate their medical conditions. Prosthetists may encounter patients who are angry about their amputations and who lash out verbally during examinations. They try to reason with uncooperative patients and reassure those who are frightened. They also consult co-workers about methods for dealing with difficult patients and may choose to refer patients who continue such behaviours to co-workers and colleagues. (2)
Decision Making
  • May choose suppliers for materials and equipment used to treat patients. They consider the suppliers' selections of products, prices, delivery options and reputations for reliability. (2)
  • May choose methods to construct and repair prosthetics and orthotics. For example, orthotic technicians may choose methods to attach orthotic joints to plastic. They consider patients' ages, weights and levels of activity. (2)
  • Choose the modality, frequency and intensity of medical treatments for their patients. For example, dietary technicians choose menus and menu substitutions for their patients. Kidney dialysis technicians decide to delay patients' treatments when dialysis machines are not functioning adequately. Ocularists, prosthetists and orthotists choose designs and materials to fabricate prostheses and orthoses. They take various factors into account such as patients' medical conditions, activity levels, ages, physical conditions and the degrees and types of pain they are experiencing. (3)
Critical Thinking
  • May evaluate the suitability of doctors' prescriptions. For example, orthotists may review their patients' medical histories to judge the suitability of hosiery recommended by treating physicians. They consider factors such as their patients' weight, amount of swelling, degree of pain and fatigue, past treatments, family histories and cardiac conditions. (2)
  • May evaluate the quality of products to use in the fabrication of prosthetic and orthotic devices. They check manufacturers' specifications, read product reviews, run tests and use their experience to make such assessments. For example, prosthetists may test liquid resins on lamination dummies to check for damage to various prosthetic components. (2)
  • May evaluate the condition of equipment used for medical treatments. For example, dialysis technologists inspect parts on haemodialysis machines for wear, take measurements and compare them to specifications and review daily performance logs in order to evaluate the overall condition of the machines. (2)
  • Assess the quality of service provided to patients. For example, pedorthists ask patients to comment on the comfort of orthotic devices during follow-up visits. Dietary technicians may audit tray returns to evaluate their patients' satisfaction with menus. Ocularists may monitor the durability of ocular prostheses to evaluate various fabrication methods. (3)
  • Assess patients' physical and psychological health. They check information received from treating physicians, consider patients' and their families' comments, take measurements and make visual and manual examinations in order to make these assessments. (3)
  • Judge the suitability of treatments and orthotic and prosthetic designs. They consider their patients' preferences, physical and emotional conditions, degree of pain and sensitivity, daily activities and financial resources. For example, prosthetists and orthotists assess the appearance, weight, comfort, flexibility and durability of components of prosthetic and orthotic designs in light of their patients' ages, physical conditions, daily activities and preferences. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) differ in their responsibilities for task planning and organization. Dietary technicians, dialysis technicians and technologists and many prosthetic and orthotic technicians generally follow set routines and schedules. They make minor adjustments to work plans to accommodate interruptions such as shortages of menu items, malfunctioning machines and occasional emergency repair jobs. Ocularists, prosthetists and orthotists and dietary technicians in supervisory roles usually take greater responsibility for task planning. They often schedule patient consultations, the fabrication of custom prostheses and orthoses and supervisory and administrative tasks. They must adapt their plans to deal with frequent interruptions such as telephone calls from suppliers and treating physicians, emergency repairs and refits and changes in surgery schedules. (3)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) who are self-employed and those in supervisory roles are responsible for preparing schedules and assigning tasks to other workers. For example, dietary technicians may assign tasks to food service workers on their shifts. Certified prosthetists running their own businesses may determine work schedules and assign tasks to prosthetic technicians, secretary-receptionists and bookkeepers. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember their patients' names and important personal information to build rapport.
  • Remember technical data and methods relating to their specialties. For example, dietary technicians remember significant interactions between foods and common medications. Dialysis technologists remember the normal operating ranges for haemodialysis units. Ocular technicians remember oven temperatures and processing times for different plastics. Prosthetic technicians remember combinations of components used to build prostheses for particular medical conditions.
Finding Information
  • Search for information on new products and equipment. They contact suppliers and check catalogues and brochures. They read product reviews in trade magazines and newsletters. They may conduct on-line searches and meet with product representatives at conferences and trade shows. For example, pedorthists may search for stronger materials to build orthotics for overweight, physically active patients. (3)
  • May look for new procedures and methods to treat specific medical conditions. They share ideas with co-workers, colleagues and suppliers. They search for treatment methods in manuals and look for new protocols in trade magazines and professional journals. They may run tests in their workshops and experiment with new prosthetic and orthotic designs. They may attend seminars at professional conferences on new approaches such as new treatments for plantar fasciitis. (3)
Digital technology
  • May use graphics software. For example, they may use presentation programs such as Power Point to create slide presentations for colleagues and the public. (2)
  • May use databases. For example, dietary technologists and technicians in health care establishments may enter information on patients' diets, review their food preferences and print tray menus using specialized database programs such as TDS System and CBORD. Self-employed prosthetists and orthotists may use programs such as Access to check schedules for patients' visits. (2)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they may use programs such as Excel to track maintenance expenses on patients' prostheses, manage inventories and maintain patient contact lists. (2)
  • May use billing, bookkeeping and accounting software. For example, self-employed ocularists, prosthetists and orthotists may use programs such as Simply Accounting to manage their payables and receivables. (2)
  • Use communication software. For example, they use communication software such as Outlook to exchange e-mail and attachments with co-workers, suppliers and insurance companies. They may also use instant messaging programs to exchange brief messages with colleagues. (2)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they use browsers such as Internet Explorer to access newsletters on professional association websites and to search for resources such as on-line medical encyclopedias. They also use search engines to source new suppliers and products. (2)
  • Use word processing. For example, they use word processing programs such as Word to write, edit and format letters, memos and reports. They use templates and also create original documents. (3)
  • May use computer-assisted design, manufacturing and machining. For example, dialysis technicians use computer-controlled operating systems to monitor variables such as flow rates, pump pressures and temperatures in haemodialysis machines. Dialysis technologists access the on-line operational data in haemodialysis machines, diagnose sources of trouble and run various tests. Prosthetists may use computer-assisted design software to generate socket designs for prostheses using measurements and digital photographs of patients' stumps. (3)
Additional informationOther Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) typically perform their tasks as independent workers within larger work units. For example, dietary technicians in long-term care facilities work independently to check the accuracy of patients' food trays and to resolve food service concerns. They also liaise with teams of nurses, dietitians, nutritionists and food service workers to ensure quality service. Similarly, orthotists and prosthetists meet patients for individual consultations and make their own choices for designs of orthoses and prostheses. They coordinate their treatment choices with other health care professionals including doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists and exchange information with orthotic and prosthetic technicians and support workers. (2)

Continuous Learning

Continuous learning is important to the work of other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health). They need to maintain current knowledge of products, methods and issues in their work contexts if they are to serve patients competently. They learn on-the-job through discussions with co-workers, colleagues, suppliers and other health care professionals. They read newsletters, trade publications, brochures, manuals, help files, policies and professional journals. They also attend workshops, courses and conferences sponsored by their employers and professional associations. (2)

Labour Market Information Survey
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