Michael Burton has extensive experience in management, sales and marketing. Burton owns and operates Burton Business Services, which provides consulting services, marketing assistance, and project management to businesses and nonprofit organizations.  He is also a partner in OandP Staffing, LLC, providing expert assistance with O&P careers.  Burton is a member of the Industry Advisory Council for O&P Business News and is President of the Orthotic and Prosthetic Activities Foundation. He also serves on the board of directors for The Center for O&P Learning & Evidence-Based Practice. Burton is a frequent speaker at colleges with O&P programs, as well as continuing education conferences. He focuses his blog on the business of O&P with a wide range of topics from marketing, human resources, health care reform and the latest business changes to impact O&P.

Volunteering your time — Who has time for that?

The better question is, “Who doesn’t have time for that?” The organizations that serve the orthotic and prosthetic (O&P) community are often referred to as the “ABCs” of O&P. There are many fine organizations doing wonderful deeds. Among those are ABC, AOPA, AAOP, OPAF, NCOPE, BOC, ACPOC, ISPO and NAAOP. This list includes just a few and does not intentionally leave anyone out. All of these, and many more, do a very good job of keeping our profession moving forward.

Rather than just using my own words here, I am going to quote some American presidents who have already contributed some very memorable words. Woodrow Wilson once said, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” We owe a debt of gratitude to the people who have graciously volunteered their time to the many organizations that make up the ABCs of O&P. These people are involved in making changes, which occasionally also leads to making enemies.

However, if we truly want to affect change, we need to get involved. Theodore Roosevelt stated, “The only man who makes no mistake is the man who does nothing.” Certainly, sitting on the sidelines means that we will make no mistakes. Everyone I know who volunteers their time for the O&P organizations does so for the greater good of the profession. Yes, sometimes mistakes are made. That is unavoidable because each of us lacks the ability to accurately predict the future.

If you are known for complaining about the way things are going with any of the organizations trying to prepare the profession for a better future, I encourage you to sit back for a minute and look closely at things that are being done. Lyndon Johnson once reminded us of the importance of this by saying, “You ain’t learnin’ nothin’ when you’re talkin’.”

More accurate words have never been spoken. So many organizations have volunteers who are working diligently to ensure that any changes within the profession will make us stronger. With the budgetary crisis facing our nation, this is a huge challenge. Changes are coming. Jimmy Carter probably said it best by stating, “We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.” By volunteering even a small amount of your time, you can help to influence how things will change over time. Your opinions can help to guide the changing times of O&P with unchanging principles.

I am among those who believe that the best days for our profession are still ahead of us. Each of us will have to work harder and smarter if we are to reach our goals, but by working together to affect change, we can accomplish the things that need to be done.

What works for our country will also work for the O&P community. We have to maintain a positive attitude and work hard to affect change. Find time to give back to the profession that has provided you with the means to earn a good living. The final words here are those of Ronald Reagan: “If anyone tells you that America’s best days are behind her, they’re looking the wrong way.”