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Training for a career that improves lives

photo of Moore and NutterLEXINGTON, KY (June 4, 2018) — A class at no charge that may end in job placement in a high demand field? Sounds too good to be true, but Bluegrass Community & Technical College (BCTC) partnered with Kenney Orthopedics to offer training that does just that.

This spring, students are participating in a business sponsored work-based learning project that entails 40 hours in the classroom/lab and 160 hours of paid internship. The internship is the result of another partnership with the Bluegrass Workforce Innovation Board.

Upon successful program completion in June, participants may be hired as orthotics and prosthetics technicians who will fabricate, repair and maintain artificial limbs and braces.

This partnership was established with BCTC by Kenney Orthopedics due to the intense demand for orthotics and prosthetics technicians who provide service in a variety of healthcare settings. Currently, there are only seven programs like this in the United States, and no other programs in Kentucky.

“We have been impressed with the commitment that we have observed with this group of participants,” said Heather Morton, Kenney Orthopedics HR manager. “Many have other jobs in addition to attending the required classes and intern hours, and they have had excellent attendance.”

Participating students share a desire to help others, but otherwise are very different. Sadie Biles heard about the program from a VA representative. Biles served two active duty tours in Afghanistan and began nursing school when she got home. This training presented another career option that fit Biles career search criteria to “work with her hands and help people.”

Lee Moore, another student, earned his GED at BCTC and learned about the program from a letter sent to GED recipients. Moore’s father owned a shoe repair shop, so this type of work is familiar to him. “I like it because it requires problem solving,” said Moore.  “There’s always a new puzzle to solve, a new challenge.”

Shane Pope is a Kenney Orthopedics lab manager who assists with the class sometimes. He lost his left leg in a car accident in 2014. He was grateful to the folks at Kenney Orthopedics for helping him to walk in less than a year, so he decided he wanted to do the same for others. “I get to help fix people, like me,” Pope commented.

The class is taught by Drew Nutter, certified orthotist and prosthetist for Kenney Orthopedics and is comprehensive in scope including protocols for healthcare settings, effective patient communication, medical terminology and measurements, fabrication materials and safe use of hand and power tools.

Nutter, too, had a personal experience with an amputee that drew him to the field. He like the others has a passion for helping. “I love that I get to restore people to mobility and independence,” Nutter said.

Clearly, helping to improve the lives of others is a big motivator for pursing this career, but there are others. According to the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association's 2013 Compensation and Benefits Report, a certified technician earns approximately $45,000 per year. In addition to the salary, this is a high demand career path.

This field is growing and needs qualified technicians. Anyone interested in learning more about the opportunities in prosthetics and orthotics can visit opcareers.org. Learn more about opportunities at Kenney Orthopedics on their website. 

If you are interested in applying and enrolling for the fall semester at BCTC you may schedule an appointment by registering at KCTCS.edu/EXPRESS