Orthopedic Primary Care FAQ

What is Orthopedic Primary Care? 

Orthopedic Primary Care is a term coined by nurse practitioners A.J. Benham and  Kathleen 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% -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?

OPC Syllabus/ Schedule

Combining 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.

How much of a time commitment does OPC require?

Students should expect to spend an average of  6 hours each week reading and  completing online assignments.  Attendance at monthly weekend workshops is required, for a total of 48 hours of on-site learning each semester. Tentative dates for the on-site workshop weekends are:

Fall 2017 workshopsSpring 2018 workshops
September 16/17
October 7/8
November 4/5
December 9-10

January 6/7
February 10/11

Workshop dates will be confirmed after April 2017.

Where are OPC classes held?

OPC classes are held at the offices of the Jackson Orthopaedic Foundation (JOF),  located at 3317 Elm Street in Oakland.   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 certificate program.  Feel free to check back later, though, as some units may eventually be available as freestanding continuing education courses.   Follow this link to  receive email notifications from JOF as additional courses 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.  Dr. Benham and Dr. Geier hold certifications as family nurse practitioners, and  both have also been certified by the Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board.

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

Currently, a  Certificate of Completion for 250+ CEU’s in Orthopedic Primary Care will be awarded to each student who successfully completes the entire OPC program.  

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 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 OPC curriculum has recently been approved by Samuel Merritt University.  Starting in the Fall of 2016 we hope to offer 12 graduate level credits applicable to either a Post-Masters Certificate or a Doctorate in Nursing Practice degree.  Follow this link to  receive email notifications from JOF as additional information about these programs becomes available in the future.

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 who may have time or budgetary constraints.

How much does OPC cost?

The tuition for the 2 semester /28 week OPC Certificate  Program is $5,000 payable at the beginning of the first semester.   Individual students demonstrating financial hardship may contact us by email to negotiate alternative payment plans on a case by case basis.  The $5,000 tuition for 250 hours of OPC continuing education is in keeping with the average cost per c.e.u. of about $20.  It is less than half the price of 12 units of graduate level professional education, which could cost more than $12,000.  

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.

How do I enroll in OPC? 

Submit your application,  your c.v., one professional reference, and a non-refundable $25 dollar application fee.  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 2-4 weeks.  You will be asked to provide a non-refundable $100 deposit to reserve your spot in the program.  Your deposit will be subtracted from the balance of your tuition, which will be due the first day of the semester.