Post-mastectomy involves a very intimate issue – breasts. And as a result, it has been largely ignored. Through my experiences, I’ve heard the terms used when referring to post-mastectomy professionals: bra fitters, “that pink bra stuff.’ And my personal favorite, “the boob girls”.
However, despite these dismissals, women persevered, and the post-mastectomy profession evolved, growing into a vibrant profession of more than 6,000 Certified Fitters. These women business owners, some with decades of experience, have placed their unique stamp on post-mastectomy services. It is a profession that deserves respect and needs its Voice.
3 Easy Steps to Mastectomy Fitter Certification
How do you become a certified post-mastectomy fitter?
It’s easy. So, let’s take a look at the process.
But first, maybe a few definitions?
What is post-mastectomy?
Post Mastectomy means “after a mastectomy.” It describes professional medical services required after a mastectomy due to breast cancer, trauma, prophylactic mastectomy, or genetically induced developmental conditions of the breast.
A post-mastectomy fitter is a Certified and Licensed healthcare professional trained in post-mastectomy care.
Post-mastectomy items and services
Post Mastectomy items and services include all types of external breast prostheses, including custom; pocketed garments, treatment of lymphedema, and post-surgical compression garments. These are healthcare items because they treat conditions that have resulted from diseases and treatment of diseases of the breast.
Additional items often considered post-mastectomy are fashion clothing designed to accommodate breast surgeries, such as head and neck scarves, wigs, head beanies, cooling caps, bathing suits, and ease-of-wear items. In addition, many new lingerie and fashion designers focus exclusively on post-mastectomy or cancer care designs.
Learn, Fit, Certify.
The rewards are worth the effort if you are interested in becoming certified in post-mastectomy. The process is straightforward, but it does take time – about six months from start to finish if that is your full-time focus.
There are 3 Easy Steps to Becoming a Certified Post Mastectomy Fitter.
First, you need to learn the basics of post-mastectomy fitting. Many companies and organizations offer a pre-certification post-mastectomy fitter course. Although classes vary in availability and cost (about $200), they must meet the basic requirements of an Approved pre-Certification course. While they vary, most courses last about 8-10 hours.
There are two Certifying Organizations for post-mastectomy, the American Board for Certification and the Board for Certification. Both certify post-mastectomy fitters and list approved courses on their websites. To ensure that you are taking the proper path, check with your post-mastectomy lingerie manufacturer or the Certifying Organization’s approved lists.
We will cover more on the Certifying Organizations later in this post.
Knowledge and expertise come with experience.
The second step in the path to post-mastectomy Certification is to gain experience. You will need to learn the fitting and the details of running a post-mastectomy business. In addition, to sit for the certification exam, you will need to gain at least 125 hours (BOC) or 250 hours (ABC) of “internship hours” working directly under a Certified Fitter.
The third step may be the most difficult for some.
Sign up for and take the Certification Exam.
Certification in post-mastectomy fitting requires a computer-based, 100-150 question multiple-choice standardized exam administered by pre-approved organizations. In addition, there are study aids and online practice exams. The book you received from your pre-certification course is also a good study guide.
There are two Certifying Organizations. The American Board of Certification and the Board for Orthotic Certification, national, non-profit organizations, provide Certification in post-mastectomy and continuing oversite. Equal in test difficulty, there is a slight difference in cost, pre-certification requirements, test availability, and continuing education requirements.
Therefore, choosing which Certifying Organization you want at the beginning of your path will determine much.
Is it Worth it?
Remember that a Certified Post Mastectomy Fitter can work anywhere and is a specialized and growing professional designation. They can even open up their boutique.
In addition, a Certified Fitter is a member of the allied health profession, Orthotics, and Prosthetics. Some states require a post-mastectomy fitter to be both Certified and Licensed. Also, the United States is currently the only country with a certification training program for post-mastectomy fitters. However, AABCP is working with a sister organization to expand post-mastectomy fitter training and Certification internationally.
Fitters meet men and women at a critical time in their lives – the next stage in their breast cancer treatment continuum.
If this sounds like you, we encourage you to read on! And Good Luck!