Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career and Higher Education

Major Professor

William H. Young, III, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Robert F. Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Donald A. Dellow, Ed.D.

Committee Member

M. Jason Highsmith, P.T., D.P.T., Ph.D., C.P., F.A.A.O.P.

Committee Member

Patricia M. Alvarez McHatton, Ph.D.


certification, exam, licensure, predictors, prosthetics, success


Students who graduate from a practitioner program in prosthetics & orthotics must achieve certification in order to obtain licensure and practice independently in 16 states. In states where licensure is not mandatory, graduates may choose to pursue certification in order assure patients that they are practicing at the highest level as well as to differentiate themselves from competitors. While studies have been carried out extensively regarding predictors of success on the certification exams in other professions, no such study has been carried out to date in prosthetics.

The American Board for Certification in Prosthetics, Orthotics, & Pedorthics (ABC), established in 1948, historically has been the organization whose standards states adopt when wishing to implement licensure law. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to determine if statistically significant relations exist the ABC prosthetics certification pass or fail rates as well as the 3 exams which comprise certification based on specific predictor variables: gender, Carnegie ranking of the institution from where the candidate received the degree, and whether the candidate is extending credential. As it specifically relates to this study, credential extension refers to adding the certified prosthetist (CP) credential after already possessing the certified orthotist (CO) credential.

A quantitative, retrospective, secondary data analysis of de-identified prosthetic resident data provided by the American Board for Certification in Prosthetics, Orthotics, & Pedorthics (ABC) and the National Commission on Orthotic & Prosthetic Education (NCOPE) was used to test the following research questions: Is there a relationship between gender, institution type, and/or credential extension and (1) success in achieving ABC prosthetics practitioner certification, (2) performance on the ABC prosthetics Written Multiple Choice exam, (3) performance on the ABC prosthetics Written Simulation exam, and (4) performance on the ABC Clinical Patient Management practical exam?

Chi-square analysis, independent t-tests and logistic regression were used for data analysis in question 1. In research questions 2, 3, and 4 independent t-tests were used for analysis with two-level categorical independent variables and ANOVA was used for the three-level categorical independent variable, institution type. Linear regression was used for the models in research questions 2, 3, and 4. Statistically significant relations were found in each research question between the credential extension predictor variable and the dependent variables, with candidates who were extending credential performing better on each of the three examinations and, thus, greater success obtaining certification.

This study was the first of its kind conducted regarding predictors of success in prosthetics certification, conducted with the variables of interest currently available. It served as a first step in filling the existing gap regarding this topic in the prosthetics literature. It informed the profession of the relationship between available predictors and variables of interest related to the ABC prosthetics certification exam. Further, it informed the profession of its status concerning collecting additional variables of interest that would permit analysis of more robust information, including grades on specific courses of interest, various GPAs and time between residency completion and exam date. Additionally, it informed the profession of its status concerning such research compared to other health professions with which it seeks to keep pace. Repeating this study with additional variables and an expanded sample size could potentially produce significant results, as has occurred in other professions. Further, additional analysis following stabilization of the new Master's degree and accreditation standards is warranted. This line of research has the potential to inform practice and policy in prosthetics education and certification. Finally, it will help the prosthetics profession keep pace with the other health professions and become a leader in best educational and clinical practices in managing patients who utilize prosthetic technologies.