Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What’s it like to be a….Orthotist?

My job title is: Certified Orthotist
My actual position is: Director

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If youíve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
A normal day consists of seeing patients, where I evaluate the patient according to the prescription; measure, cast and fit the patient. I instruct the patient on wear and care of their device. I may also fabricate or adjust the device in the lab. I may order products and check products in that were ordered.  Everyday is consistent, but it feels different because of all of the different patients I see each day. The patients will range from newborns to geriatrics. Once the patient leaves your office, then I have to dictate my notes for the patientís chart.  The longer you are in a position, the more responsibility you acquire and the more the patients become familiar with you as well as doctors and other healthcare workers.

What other positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now?
I worked many part time jobs during school, but summers were always in construction. I built homes, decks, patios, garages and room additions/remodeling. I always wanted to work in healthcare; I thought I would be with a professional sports team. After my undergraduate degree I worked in custom seating for wheelchairs. Then went into Orthotics and Prosthetics, which was a perfect profession for me. It allowed me to utilize my hands in creating orthotic devices as well as my schooling in the healthcare field.

What kind of training/education did you have? What would you suggest? What qualifications/skills/attributes make someone successful in this position?
The educational requirements are changing as of this year; this field has gone to an entry level masters degree. Initially you need a bachelors degree in a related field, specifically, a bachelors of science. The requirements for each school differ slightly, but there may also be a requirement of some work related hours.  I would recommend researching the schools that offer Orthotic and Prosthetic degree programs and see which fits your needs best. The main attributes of a person successful in this field would be a desire to work with people, be creative, comfortable with wound care and likes working with their hands / tools.

What are the rewards in your position? Challenges? What makes a good day for you?
My rewards are seeing the faces of the individuals when they can walk again, are in less pain or can once again do things that they had lost the ability to do.  Whatís challenging is primarily dealing with insurance restrictions, as well as some patientsí attitudes.

What trends or changes do you foresee in the next 5-10 years?
Limited reimbursement from insurance carriers and more research based outcomes.

How could a person find out more about your field? 
Google search Orthotist or Prosthetist.  Go to Norhwestern University web site under NUPOC Explore Northwestern University Orthotic Prosthetic Center and Eastern Michigan University programs.

When you were growing up, did you have any interests that you have built into your work?

I loved to fix and build things; I use these skills every day.

What obstacles have you overcome to get to where you are today?

I relocated from Illinois to Michigan which was difficult on my family.

What was your first job like after college?
It was for a small company and it was a Great experience where I learned a lot.

Are there any web sites you would suggest for more information about your field?
aopanet.org, oandp.org, opcareers.org

How do your beliefs and values or worldview perspectives impact what you do at work?

I believe everyone deserves my attention and my best effort and I try not to let the insurance difficulties guide my treatment. 

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/21 at 10:47 AM
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