Orthopedic Primary Care FAQ

What is Orthopedic Primary Care? 

Orthopedic Primary Care is a term coined by nurse practitioners A.J. Benham and Kathleen A. Geier to describe the treatment of patients whose musculoskeletal problems don’t need referral to an orthopedic surgeon. Drs. Benham and Geier developed the Orthopedic Primary Care (OPC) curriculum based on their own experience and numerous studies revealing that most primary care clinicians lack adequate preparation to effectively treat common conditions such as neck and low back pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and repetitive stress injuries.  

How will completing the OPC program help me improve my patient care?

Participating in the OPC program will provide you with the latest evidence-based non-surgical, patient-centered approaches to maximizing function, managing pain, preventing further injury, and slowing disease progression for your patients with non-urgent, non-surgical musculoskeletal conditions.

How will completing the OPC program help me grow my practice?

By some estimates, chronic musculoskeletal disorders comprise between 20% to 60% of primary care office visits and overall health care expenditures. This number is expected to increase with the aging of the baby boom generation. Enhancing your expertise in the treatment of non-surgical orthopedic conditions will increase your value to both patients and employers by improving your ability to provide expert musculoskeletal care in a variety of clinical settings including family health practices, urgent care clinics, occupational health centers, retail clinics, and geriatric centers.

What content is covered in OPC?

Combining self-paced online didactic instruction with weekend intensive workshops, OPC covers fundamentals of anatomy, pathophysiology, and evidence-based treatment for common musculoskeletal conditions, as well as opportunities to practice clinical skills including physical examination; x-ray & MRI interpretation; casting & splinting; joint aspiration and injections; and prescribing DME and exercise.

  • The OPC curriculum is divided into four Course/Workshop pairings presented in a quarterly cycle over the course of a year.
  • Although the cycle can be entered at any time, students must complete all online assignments for a Course prior to attending the hands-on Workshop for that Course.
  • Each of the 4 Workshops is presented once a year.


How much of a time commitment does OPC require?

Each Course consists of approximately 10-13 Modules. Students should expect to spend an average of 3 to 6 hours reading and completing online assignments for each Module. Course completion requires attendance at the related Course Workshops for a total of 10-12 hours of hands-on learning per Course.

Hands-On Workshop Dates

Projected dates for the course workshops are given in the table below. Dates given in italics represent when the online materials for these new courses first become available.


July 20/21: Upper Extremity Workshop

October 12/13: Lower Extremity Workshop

November 1: Spine Online Content Initial Offering
January 18/19: Spine Workshop

February 1: Special Skills Online Content Initial Offering
April 18/19: Special Skills Workshop


Where are OPC Workshops held?

OPC Workshops are held at or near the offices of the Jackson Orthopedic Foundation (JOF), located at 400 30th Street, Suite 102, in Oakland, California. JOF is within walking distance of MacArthur BART, near Summit Alta Bates Medical Center and Samuel Merritt University. 

Can I take just the online courses or just the weekend Skills Workshops?

OPC Skills Workshops are currently only available as part of the integrated OPC Program. Feel free to check back later, though, as some modified workshops may eventually be available as freestanding continuing education courses. Follow this link to receive email notifications from JOF as additional opportunities become available in the future.

Who teaches OPC?

Course creators AJ Benham, DNP, and Kathleen Geier, DNP, are core faculty for the OPC program, and there are occasional presentations by select content area experts. Between them, Drs. Benham and Geier have more than 60 years of orthopedic practice and teaching experience in a variety of settings including acute care, orthopedic clinics, occupational medicine clinics, and surgery. Drs. Benham and Geier hold certifications as family nurse practitioners, and have also been certified by the Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board.

What kind of educational credit will I earn by completing the OPC program?

While online hours vary for each Course, participants earn approximately 80 continuing education units (65 hours of online work + 15 hours weekend skills workshops.) Jackson Orthopedic Foundation is approved to provide continuing education by the California Board of Registered Nurses 

How will my achievement of OPC learning objectives be evaluated? 

Student learning in OPC will be evaluated based on completion of online assignments and demonstration of skills in clinical lab sessions. Online projects may include responding to questions about assigned reading, developing a portfolio of tools for clinical use, and making presentations to classmates. No grades will be given, but all assignments must be completed and all skills must be competently demonstrated in order to obtain CEU's and the OPC Certificate of Completion. Students will also be required to provide evaluations of the OPC program.   

Can I apply OPC courses to my graduate degree in nursing?

The original OPC curriculum was approved by Samuel Merritt University's Graduate Nursing Curriculum Committee in 2016. Although OPC is not currently offered in conjunction with any academic institution, JOF continues to explore opportunities for partnerships with graduate-level health education programs. A few OPC students have received credit for completing OPC as part of their individualized graduate level nursing education. Please feel free to contact us for tips on negotiating this possibility with your graduate program.   

How does OPC compare with other courses?

OPC is the only non-degree continuing education program in the United States for nurse practitioners interested in musculoskeletal care. While NP professional organizations offer specialty track courses at annual conferences, and Duke University offers a graduate level musculoskeletal certificate and DNP specialty track, OPC is the only program offering comprehensive musculoskeletal training specifically designed for advanced practice nurses in primary care settings. Having the option of completing the OPC certificate as a continuing education program rather than part of a graduate degree makes the program more accessible to NPs with time or budgetary constraints.

How much does OPC cost?

Tuition for each OPC module is $500, which includes access to online learning materials, hands-on workshops, and continuing education certificates. All 4 modules can be purchased at one time for $1,750.

Each $500 OPC module provides 80 continuing education units. This works out to about $6/CEU, or a bit more than a quarter of the industry average of $20/CEU. Comparable graduate-level academic credit for each module (about 1 unit) would probably cost around $1,000. 

Individual students demonstrating financial hardship may contact us by email to negotiate alternative payment plans on a case-by-case basis.

What kind of financial aid is available to pay for OPC?

Financial assistance may be available through your employer’s professional education reimbursement program, or you can follow this link for other ideas on obtaining employer support for your tuition. A small number of partial scholarships may be available through the Delores Beanland Nursing Scholarship Fund, administered through the Jackson Orthopedic Foundation. Interested individuals should submit a request for scholarship information with their application to the OPC program. 

What if I enroll in the OPC program but am unable to complete it?

You will be provided with continuing education credit for any coursework you have completed at the time of your withdrawal from the program. Depending on the timing and circumstances of your withdrawal, you may be provided with a tuition credit that can be used on any JOF educational offering within two years of your withdrawal. Because space in the OPC program is limited, JOF cannot provide tuition refunds to individuals who withdraw from the program after the second week of the start of classes.

Note that workshops for each module are currently presented only once per year. In order to maximize time for practicing clinical skills during workshops, JOF requires students to complete all online assignments prior to attending workshops  Plan carefully to assure that you'll be able to complete all assignments in time to attend the corresponding workshops as scheduled. Should circumstances arise that keep you from attending a workshop as planned, you're welcome to attend the next available workshop for that module at no cost. 

How do I enroll in OPC? 

NB: A prerequisite for participation in the Orthopedic Primary Care courses is possession of a license to practice as an RN, NP, or other licensed healthcare provider. Follow this link to apply online or download and mail a PDF version of the application along with supporting documents. Depending on the volume of applications received, you will be notified of acceptance within 14 days of your application submission.

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