I am so pleased that I have reached the 6-month mark of my orthotic residency. Starting a new job is always challenging because you are meeting new people and expected to try new things. Fortunately, after a few months you learn the unique trends of each company and the transition becomes much smoother.
Last week I had an amazing opportunity to attend the Association of Children’s Prosthetic-Orthotic Clinics annual meeting in Banff, Canada. Because I am working at a children’s hospital, it was appropriate to attend this meeting and learn as much as I could from so many accomplished professionals.
Graduating from Northwestern University a few months ago was not only exciting but also a little bit sad. I truly enjoyed my time in Chicago. My instructors were fantastic teachers and taught me the fundamental knowledge that I will need to start my O&P career. I will miss the relationships that I made with my classmates. Life as a student has been full of late nights and hard work, however I am now ready to move on to my residency.
We are currently in the Upper Limb Prosthetic section of our clinical program here in Chicago. For many of the students in my class, building an upper limb prosthesis from start to finish is a fairly new concept. Most students have experience with lower limb prosthetics but we tend to see very few upper limb patients within our clinical practices.
I have finally made it to Chicago for the last 11 weeks of my prosthetic schooling at Northwestern University! As most of you know, my classmates and I have spent the last 22 weeks watching lectures, studying, taking tests and working on our group projects as distance learners via the Internet. Now, we have all arrived in Chicago to finish the last third of our schooling together. This next 11 weeks (clinical on-site portion) will consist of long, intense days of assessing patient models, fabricating prostheses, implementing our interventions, taking exams and, best of all, making lifetime relationships with my classmates and instructors!
As summer creeps up on us quickly, I look forward to spending time outside and enjoying the beautiful sunny weather. Many of us start wearing cooler clothing such as shorts and short-sleeved shirts so that we can be active but also stay cool. Unfortunately, as I listen to some patients, I hear a great deal of concern about how their prostheses are too hot in the summertime. I can’t imagine what it would be like to wear a hard socket, with possibly a thick gel liner, and maybe even some layers of socks in the middle of the summer. Then, I started to think about ways to help an amputee stay cool in the summer.
For most college students, spring break is a time to get away from the books and exams by finding a relaxing destination. Some might go home to spend time with family and some stay at school to catch up on much needed sleep. Many students, however, travel to exotic islands or destinations where they drink margaritas and dance the night away. These trips are planned months in advance and the countdown typically starts the day after Christmas vacation.
Watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament brought back many memories from my career as an athlete. Being a competitive athlete was rewarding and taught me motivation, desire and discipline. Once I learned these traits on the court, it was easy to apply them to other areas of my life.
While watching the upper limb prosthetic lectures this week, I started to thinking about the difference between the cosmetic aspect of an upper limb prosthesis versus the functional aspect.
Going back to school for the second O&P discipline has its benefits. The first time around was challenging because the field was fairly new to me, but now I feel much more comfortable in the profession and also with the blended learning program at Northwestern University. The program is broken down into two parts: 22 weeks of distance learning and 11 weeks of onsite clinical work in Chicago.