Contemporary Clinician-Researchers Shape O&P’s Future

ATLANTA — There were only 10 documented ABC-certified practitioners with doctoral degrees in the United States in 2005, according to a presenter at the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium here.

John W. Michael, MEd, CPO/L, FAAOP, FISPO, president of CPO Services Inc., said that only one of the 10 individuals was a full-time clinician and half of the 10 have earned their doctorate outside North America. Michael interviewed those 10 individuals and discovered common denominators. All 10 individuals had a keen interest in clinical work, research and education, but told Michael they could only manage pursuing two out of those three interests. Michael introduced contemporary clinicians, researchers and educators who have pursued advanced degrees in orthotics and prosthetics.

Donald E. Katz, MHA, CO/L, FAAOP, administrative staff for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, preached the importance of attending meetings and presenting research to peers and physicians.

“Looking back, one of the things that kept me focused and on-task was always accepting the opportunity to give a presentation,” Katz said. “If you do that, you are challenging yourself. You are also representing your clinic or practice so you are motivated by not embarrassing yourself.”

Shane Wurdeman, CP, MSPO, wanted to pursue a degree in orthotics and prosthetics, but he and his guidance counselor were unaware that curriculums existed at universities. So he pursued a bachelor’s degree in physics.

“I just thought a bachelor’s of science [degree] in physics was the best route to designing orthotics and prosthetics,” Wurdeman said. “There is much more awareness of O&P today, and hopefully it will increase even more.”

Sara Morgan, CPO, department of rehabilitation medicine for University of Washington, knew she would pursue an advanced degree and wanted to attend an established O&P program, ultimately choosing the University of Washington. Still, after being in a clinical environment for 6 years, the transition back to school was a difficult one.

“I had a steady income and a steady schedule,” she said. “When I went back to school, I had none of those things. But pursuing a doctorate degree was a lifelong goal and I love the energy of the university environment.”

Although each road to their individual goals was different and included detours along the way, the professional goals of Katz, Wurdeman and Morgan were ultimately the same — to accelerate and improve the development of O&P science and research.

Michael J, Wurdeman S, Morgan S, Katz D. Shaping the future of our profession: Today’s clinician-researchers. Presented at the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium. March 21-24. Atlanta.

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