This page is to give students an idea of the benefits of joining BAPO and for us to understand why our professional body is so important to the future of our profession!
P&O is a small profession with a great community feel. The annual BAPO conference is a great place to network with innovators, clinicians, technicians and potential employers for your career as a Prosthetist / Orthotist. As a member of BAPO you get a discounted student rate and can volunteer to attend for free!
By being a member of BAPO you will be kept up-to-date on the latest work that BAPO is doing in many areas to represent us at a national and international level. BAPO ise working to increase the awareness of our profession to boost recruitment, bring light to our importance in multi-disciplinary teams and to open opportunities for us as students and clinicians.
One of our current students says about being a BAPO member:
I would truly recommend becoming an active member of BAPO. It connects you to the further world of prosthetics and orthotics before becoming a practising clinician, allowing you to join the nationwide community of prosthetists and orthotists while keeping you up to date on their most recent and relevant research. Joining BAPO enables you to be kept updated on job opportunities not only in Britain but around the world. It gives you the ability to access advice by running educational courses and helps you prepare for continuing your education and professional development once you have graduated and start to practise within a clinic.
BAPO runs on a voluntary basis and always will welcome students onto the committees it runs so they can act as a voice and representatives for all students to ensure that we do not lose sight of where we want to be in the future as a professional body.
If you are a student who would like to help shape your profession into the future and to act as a voice for your peers and colleagues then you should consider a role in one of the committees. The different committees are available for viewing in the About Us page
Caitlin, A student observer on the conference committee, states:
"Being a student representative means that you attend committee meetings to share your opinions of how the organisation can help students emerging into this career. You are part of the force that helps shapes the future for you and other upcoming students. As a student observer you are able to have a first-hand look at the work that prosthetists and orthotists do and enables you to meet people from across the country who are at the top of their field. This networking allows you to make connections with those who are higher in the field and lets you get to know the details of having a career in prosthetics and orthotics. Another advantage is that it allows interconnection between the universities that teach P&O, leading to a greater sharing of experiences."
Stewarding at conference
The annual BAPO conference is a great event as it acts as a hub for the P&O community. Conference consists of 3 main elements. Firstly are the educational seminars which take place, experts in the field of P&O will do talks and workshops about relevant clinical practices and talk about some of their experiences in treating conditions and patient demographics which are both regularly encountered and also some being more rarely encountered. Secondly is the trade exhibition in which the manufactures, innovators and suppliers of P&O devices will display their latest developments and products. And thirdly, it is a great social event. It allows students from both sides of the border to share experiences with one another and it allows all to network both socially and professionally.
Conference also looks at the wider picture of what we do in clinic and the way we work with people. In the past there has been excellent patient stories, practical demonstrations and workshops in many things. Not all workshops are specifically P&O related such as Conference2019’s workshop on Makaton
BAPO conference is a professionally ran event which is organised by the conference committee and is also manned and supported with student stewards. Stewarding involves directing people to the keynote talks, seminars and workshops and making sure people are enjoying their time at conference. You also get time to see some of the talks and presentations during the weekend and get to attend conference free of charge! To get in touch with regards to stewarding at the next conference please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If stewarding doesn’t sound like it’s for you:
All students are welcome at our BAPO Conferences and we run special offers and reduced prices to enable them to attend. Students can visit our purpose built exhibition to see first-hand the latest innovations and technologies the industry has to offer, together with the opportunity to meet and chat with representatives from some of the country’s leading P&O companies.
With so much on offer why wouldn’t you attend?
Transitioning to graduate level
Another great benefit of conference is meeting potential employers and putting a face to your name for when they receive job applications and CV’s during your final year. As a BAPO member you will receive job advertisements in the post or via email to keep you updated on what new jobs are available and what employers are looking for in prospective employees.
With BAPO membership you are provided with clinical insurance cover for when you are practising as a Prosthetist/Orthotist. It’s a fraction of the price you would pay if buying it on your own. For HCPC registration you need to make sure you have liability insurance in place to practice.
You can find a range of clinical guidelines on the BAPO website that can support you in your new graduate position. There are standards for best practice and tools such as outcome measures and clinical note audits - really useful to improve your practice and record keeping. As a member you receive discounts for the range of short courses that are run throughout the year to further your development as a clinician and aid with your CPD.
Opportunities to work abroad are vast and should be taken by students, graduates and experienced clinicians. One BAPO member who has embraced the opportunities to work abroad has sent us some information about her experiences of working in different locations around the world.
“I worked in Switzerland for 2 years (1998 to 2000) and Laos, SE Asia for 4 years (2000 to 2004). I found out about the opportunity in Switzerland due to my Swiss dual nationality and my Swiss relatives and past holidays. I visited a P&O clinic a few times when on holiday to see what they were doing so got to know the staff. I learnt German at evening school for 4 years and one summer I asked for a job there, but they said no. I was quite persistent over 2 summers and finally they agreed. Following from this I wanted to work in a developing country so applied to the ICRC (International Red Cross) and went on their training programme. I was waiting for a post when the Laos opportunity came up.”
Lucy then went on to explain the roles she had in these locations, “In Switzerland, I started working as a PO technician doing a variety of tasks in the workshop including laminating sockets, making KAFOs, smoothing casts and making wooden prosthetic limbs. I was only allowed to see patients after about 6 months when they trusted my PO knowledge and my German was better. When I later went to Laos, I was the P&O training mentor to prosthetists, orthotists, physiotherapists and surgeons. I was based in the capital city and had the responsibility to develop the 5 P&O centres across the country. I developed the service through a number of training systems in patient care, scoliosis, upper limb assessment and prosthesis and technician skills, patient note keeping, multidisciplinary team working. I also set up the manufacture of prosthetic components in the country to enable better self-reliance.”
Lucy feels that her experiences abroad have “improved her technical skills greatly” allowing her to manufacture her own devices. Also, I saw different way of working and different solutions to PO problems which has widened what I can offer patients. In addition to this she now realises “how lucky we are in the UK to have the NHS and access to PO treatments for all,”. By setting up workshops and systems, Lucy has had the confidence to open her own private orthotic business.
Lucy’s advice to graduates when asked ‘would you recommend graduates and other clinicians look for opportunities to work abroad?’ is “Yes definitely. If you intend to teach or help in a developing country, then it is vital to have at least 5 years post grad experience and to plan to be in the overseas country a few years. In my opinion there is little point going in to a country and giving a few weeks of lectures/short courses as it has very little impact. You need to first work with the people to understand what they already know and where the needs are and work with them to implement changes as needed. Then you need to be there with them to see the changes being acted on until they form part of the habit of the place.”
Lucy Best, Hampshire Orthotics Ltd.
Information on charity work
There are many charities who benefit greatly from the help of student volunteers. There are many exciting opportunities available to you as students both in the UK and abroad.
By partaking in charitable work you are able to gain valuable clinical experience, experience of living and working abroad, experience of adapting your knowledge so that you can work with materials and resources available to you and also to build up your CV to make you more appealing to future employers.
Some charities who work with amputees and people with mobility difficulties and students from a P&O background include: