School of Kinesiology - George Mason University
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The Certified Orthopedic Physician Extender (OPE-C®) is a highly educated healthcare specialist who works with orthopedic physicians in an outpatient office setting.

This program is pending SCHEV approval. Applications are not being accepted at this time.


In recent years there has been an increase in diverse employment settings for athletic trainers (AT). The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) has increased efforts to promote the utilization of AT skills to treat a variety of patients and create opportunities that support work-life balance. An OPE-C® is a highly educated healthcare specialist who works under the direction of an orthopedic physician, and is involved in the management of musculoskeletal conditions in a guided, supervised orthopedic and surgical setting. According to a 2016 NATA Physician Practice Work Group survey, ATs employed in the role of AT in a physician setting utilizing their OPE skills can expect a salary range of $37,000-$63,000.

The curriculum will teach students to manage musculoskeletal injuries in a guided orthopedic and surgical setting. The student will learn casting, splinting and orthotic device application, surgical considerations and appropriate healthcare administration for patients with orthopedic conditions. This certificate will afford students an additional opportunity beyond the entry-level AT degree to market themselves as key members of the health care team and elevate their clinical specialty in the orthopedic setting.

The Orthopedic Physician Extender Certificate features a 5 course, 15 credit, face to face, laboratory and internship curriculum. The mission of the program is to prepare students for eligibility to sit for and successfully pass the National Board for Certification in the Orthopedic Specialties (NBCOS) Orthopedic Physician Extender certification examination (OPE-C®).

Required Coursework

Total Credits: 15

Admission Requirements

Currently certified athletic trainer or those in the process of completing a Professional Athletic Training Program OR a Post-professional Athletic Training Program OR a Residency Athletic Training Program OR a Clinical Doctoral AT Program are eligible for admittance.