Welcome to Bricolage. This collection of web pages will detail articles of news and clinical practice which will be of interest to plaster technicians and orthopaedic practitioners everywhere. The term Plaster Technician is not that descriptive because it harks back to the days when plaster of Paris (POP) was the only casting material used. Today we treat acute fractures and long-standing congenital orthopaedic conditions with a variety of casting materials and may never use POP.
For simplicity and consistency throughout these pages, I will refer to anyone who applies casts to acute bony trauma cases as a cast technician. I know that some people are still referred to as a plaster technician and some people are known as a cast technologist. While the terms orthopaedic technician and orthopaedic practitioner are also used relatively commonly. The British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) currently favour the term of orthopaedic practitioner, which promises much but delivers very little.
What these pages will do is to provide people who apply orthopaedic casts and splints, primarily to trauma cases, with an examination of the inner workings of the work we do. I make no apology for the technical nature of the content. We must demonstrate to all consultant orthopaedic clinicians that we know what they are talking about and we know how to facilitate the care of their patients.
Professions are identified by several characteristics. Cast technicians remain non-registrants; in terms of an active Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration. Can what cast technicians do by way of work be described as professional work? On the current work practices... probably not.
Some characteristics of a profession can be stated thus:
- Professions render a specialised service, based upon advanced specialised knowledge and skill, and dealing with its problems primarily on an intellectual plane rather then on a physical or a manual labor plane.
- A profession involves a confidential relationship between a practitioner and a client or an employer.
- A profession is charged with a substantial degree of public obligation by virtue of its specialist knowledge.
- A profession enjoys a common heritage of knowledge, skill, and status to the cumulative store of which qualified professionals are bound to contribute through their individual and collective efforts.
- A profession performs its services to a substantial degree in the general public interest, receiving its compensation through limited fees rather than through direct profit from the improvement in goods, services, or knowledge, which it accomplishes.
- A profession is bound by a distinct and explicit ethical code in its relationships with clients, colleagues, and the public.
- A profession constantly strives to raise its own standards of care and sets its own educational goals and knowledge standards which must be met by all members. There may be practical tests at regular intervals, to ensure that agreed common standards of work and professional practice are being reached and maintained.
- A profession provides regular opportunities to update knowledge, skills and experience and encourages all members to aspire and reach for the highest levels of professional practice.
The foregoing demonstrates that cast technicians who have trained and work in the UK, are a long way short of meeting many of these professional ideals. We undertake a five week taught course and we do, as a group, seem to accept that there is no need to undertake any further training. We can damage our patients for life and yet... we appear unwilling to take on any further responsibility for the work which we will have completed on behalf of the treating clinician.
It is not an entirely hopeless situation. I aim to show (through these pages) that we can do much better for our patients, our clinicians and ultimately... for the embryo profession of cast technician. You may not agree with all that you read in these pages.
Please do feel free to comment. Every page will have a corresponding section in our Google Group for cast technicians. The comments will be public but only for other cast professionals and the public are excluded. You can access the group through your Google account and use any name you want. The Google Group for cast technicians has now been started and you can access it by sending me a message via the contact page. I need to have your Google account details so that I can set up the use of the group for you personally.