Five Questions for Scott B. Elliott, CP
Scott Elliot has a dream job for a CP who cherishes international travel, Himalayan trekking, creative engineering, and teaching. The Minnesota native is based in Australia, where he is clinical-education manager for Ossur Asia-Pacific. Elliott develops and delivers education programs based on Ossur product systems to customers and distribution partners in Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, India, and other developing markets. His team develops localized training manuals and comprehensive, hands-on training programs in which learners—some professionally trained and some not—build a complete prosthesis within a training session. He told The O&P EDGE, "You learn more about each country from working with the local teams and amputee population than you could ever learn coming as a tourist, and you are greatly helping to develop local skills and knowledge."
1. How did you become involved with O&P?
I was a university student working toward a pre-medical track but decided not to pursue medicine. I considered engineering, but I wanted to keep some medical focus. I really enjoyed the idea of biomechanical interfaces, including those "science-fiction" concepts I saw as a kid in Star Wars, so I enrolled in a biomedical-engineering bachelor's program at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
2. Who has inspired you in your professional pursuits?
Dudley Childress, PhD, who taught my first class in prosthetics engineering applications at Northwestern opened my mind to the world of prosthetics with a statement that I'll never forget: "If you think you're a good engineer, try your hand at prosthetics.... You will be humbled." It was his creativity and constant comparisons to functional mechanisms in architecture and nature that inspired me to work toward a career in prosthetics.
3. How has your career progressed?
After engineering school, I took a technician job at Abilities Unlimited, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Having worked as a technician for a few years before pursuing further clinical training at Northwestern was one of my best decisions. I then completed the prosthetics certificate program at Northwestern, then returned to Abilities Unlimited for residency and further clinical work.
Since my initial training, I had been interested in working for an industry manufacturer. I liked the idea of incorporating clinical work, product testing and development, and teaching. In 2001, I accepted a job with Ossur, Aliso Viejo, California, which had just acquired Century XXII and Flex-Foot Inc. It was an exciting time with a lot of new product development and global teams working together. I also received some additional training from the University of California, Irvine, in medical device product development.
In 2005, I was offered an opportunity to move to Sydney, Australia, to start up clinical education operations in the Asia-Pacific region with an experienced Australian businessman and prosthetist, Harvey Blackney. Harvey's distribution company, Advanced Prosthetics Components, was acquired by Ossur, and he needed technical, clinical, and education support. Harvey has more than 20 years of experience working in the region, and it's been a pleasure to work...with him and the Sydney team. We have assisted in building strong, hands-on educational programs and a network of distribution partners in the region to support business development.
4. What are your professional goals?
I would love to continue working in developing countries in the prosthetics field for some time. I would also like to spend time specializing in upper-extremity prosthetics and perhaps work at a children's hospital.
5. What advice would you give to someone just entering the O&P profession?
In the end, nothing can replace experience and good mentoring. Finding an experienced and trustworthy team or individual who is willing to help you develop strong fundamental clinical skills is priceless. They can assist you in developing good clinical habits and investigative skills. If you have these skills at an early stage in your career, it's much easier to continue building skills and knowledge for a lifetime.