Home Stretch

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By Matthew Scoggin

Since the age of 18, my life has been closely tied to recruited "movers" (otherwise known as friends and family) and a 16-foot Penske truck. There is an exciting, unspoken rhythm to packing up, moving somewhere new to attend school, and packing up once again to move back home. This vagabondish behavior is indicative of a student's life.

Coming home at the age of 24 has been humbling. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself living once again with my family. Speaking as someone who has grown to enjoy a certain amount of independence, realizing that I'm not quite fully independent has grounded me. But being home does have its perks: the comforts of my own room, home-cooked meals, familiarity. I am glad to be home, but to everyone in Pittsburgh, I miss you.

Tech Savvy

While I may not be physically present in Pittsburgh, that doesn't mean that I've escaped the classroom. Since I have chosen to do my final internship at Bio-Tech Prosthetics and Orthotics, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, I am taking my two remaining classes online. I had never taken an online class before, so I was a bit apprehensive about what to expect from the structure. Once I learned how to "attend class" online, I found that I actually enjoy sitting down with a cup of coffee in hand to learn and watch presentations twice a week.

My Ethical Issues in Health Care class is streamed live from Pittsburgh every Tuesday night and is available as a recorded session afterward. Professors monitor attendance closely, and technical support provides plenty of help. There are online discussion boards for group project work and weekly assignments and quizzes—all completed online. For my Practice Management in Prosthetics and Orthotics class, PowerPoint presentations are uploaded to the University of Pittsburgh's CourseWeb with a voiceover by our professor, Joyce Perrone of Promise Consulting, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and assignments that are due throughout the semester.

I am amazed at how the approach to O&P education has become so much more holistic in recent years, and I am glad to be part of the tipping point. My remaining coursework is a testament to the direction in which O&P is moving. Though these courses do not prepare students to run a business—which I don't imagine myself doing in the near future anyway—they do provide a framework for success as an informed employee. Once this semester wraps up, I will be equipped with the tools to manage clinical problems, personnel issues, and business situations.

From Online to Hands On

I am thoroughly enjoying my internship. It is great to return to a place where the people are familiar and I can continue my learning process. Within my first two weeks, I had observed everything from shoes and inserts to upper-limb prosthetics. It is eye opening to see the depth of responsibility I will have to have for all of my patients.

Hurry Up and Wait

I have entered an interesting phase of my life—one that is defined by waiting. I am waiting for school to end, for residency sites to call for interviews, and for direction and meaning. At first, my time spent waiting was a source of mild annoyance. I am in transition and feel displaced—I do not have a place of employment to call my own, a home, or a peer group. I could choose to view this time as a source of frustration and anxiety, or I could decide to use this time to mentally prepare myself for whatever comes next. I have chosen to do the latter. As a result, I have returned to my spiritual life and those around me as an ever-deepening well of encouragement. Waiting is part of the process, and while my future is not quite clear yet, it is brighter than I could have imagined.

Matthew Scoggin is a second-year graduate student in the master of science in prosthetics and orthotics program at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He will be sharing his experiences during his final year of graduate school with The O&P EDGE.