Joe Shamp, CPO

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Joe Shamp followed in his father's footsteps to pursue a career in O&P-one that has included private practice, active involvement in the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC) and the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA), and teaching upper-limb prosthetics at St. Petersburg College, Florida, as an adjunct professor for the past four years. His current position at James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital (JAHVH), Tampa, Florida, however, reflects the area of O&P he is most passionate about-serving veterans. Shamp is also working on the robotic arm being developed by DEKA Research and Development, Manchester, New Hampshire.

1. How did you become interested in/involved with O&P?

My father, Norman, was a bilateral transtibial amputee and a prosthetist. In 1957, he established The Shamp Artificial Limb Company, Baberton, Ohio, which grew into Shamp Prosthetic-Orthotic Centers with locations throughout northeast Ohio. I joined the company along with my brothers. As a bilateral amputee since the age of 16, my father had accomplished so much in his life. He passed away this year and on his deathbed, he said, "I want you boys to take care of our vets and other amputees in my memory." He was also always on the cutting edge of technology. His favorite expression was: "Take care of your patients as you would take care of me." He was truly a great mentor and motivator.

2. How has your career progressed?

I was in private practice with my family for 20 years, until we sold to NovaCare Rehabilitation and it, shortly thereafter, sold the company to what was then called Hanger Orthopedic Group, Austin, Texas (now Hanger). I remained in management with Hanger for another nine years. I have been with JAHVH for seven years. I was hired as the prosthetic/orthotic polytrauma team member, working closely with our returning heroes. I truly love providing care to our service members. I find it exciting to be a part of their successful rehabilitation by providing the appropriate technology and training.

3. What are your professional goals?

I plan to stay with JAHVH until retirement. I enjoy working with our rehabilitation team to see the strides and advances our patients make. We have a wonderful rehabilitation team, and we work very close with the physical and occupational therapy departments as well as the physical medicine and rehabilitation department.

4. What emerging trends or exciting advances do you see for your field?

Microprocessor technology is increasing and advancing the field, and I can only believe that things are going to continue in that direction. Also, since I entered the profession, the entry-level educational requirements have evolved from an associate degree to a master's degree. The didactic as well as the laboratory programs have really prepared the new students for practice.

5. What advice would you give to someone just entering the O&P profession?

Don't be afraid to expand on current technology and think outside of the box-can you improve the device?