If you've ever had a cast on one part of your body or another, chances
are it was applied by an orthopedic technologist rather than a doctor.
Orthopedic technologists prep patients for surgery and assist orthopedic
surgeons in the operating room. Following a doctor's orders, they apply or
remove casts and other orthopedic devices. They're also responsible for setting
up patients in traction configurations.
They must know what type of material to use and how to fit all orthopedic
devices properly. Once an orthopedic device is on a patient, the technologist
explains how to properly care for the cast or splint.
An orthopedic technologist may work in private practice, a hospital or
The hours an "ortho tech" works depend on the job situation. Those who
work in a clinic or private practice may have a 9-to-5 routine. Technologists
employed at hospitals usually have to work shifts to cover the demands of
a 24-hour staff.
Tom Byrne was an orthopedic technologist for 30 years. He is now an instructor
at Grossmont College. Byrne says interested students should realize that this
is a physical job. "Orth technology requires physical ability, because we
are working with patients who are debilitated."