Erin Rice, CO, ATC

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Erin Rice, CO, ATC

Erin Rice, CO, ATC, says she always wanted to work with children, so when she got the opportunity to stay on staff at Children's Care Hospital and School/Rehabilitation Medical Supply (CCHS/RMS) Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after her residency, the decision wasn't difficult. "It humbles me to think that I get to do this every day," she says. In her current position she treats pediatric patients who need cranial remolding helmets or orthoses in the CCHS Children's Care Rehabilitation Center outpatient-rehab setting facility, and follows up with pediatric patients with special needs at CCHS. Her love of working with children runs deep, and she hopes future endeavors will include caring for children in need internationally as well.

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

I began my undergraduate education in athletic training at North Dakota State University, Fargo, learning the biomechanics of human locomotion and the body's response to overuse or traumatic injury. I spent a generous amount of time in the athletic training room and became very familiar with taping and bracing techniques as well as therapeutic modalities involved in the rehabilitation process of injuries. I always wanted to offer more than just off-the-shelf bracing.... I wanted to pursue orthotics to help those who need more custom attention as well.

2. What has motivated or inspired you?

I give that credit and glory to God and the example set by my parents. I grew up on a farm in northern Minnesota and learned about tools, hard work, doing things well, and the sacrifices you make to maintain an excellent operation. I am blessed to work with many different providers outside of O&P, including physiatrists, physical and occupational therapists, and seating specialists, and I value each one of them. Having their input and expertise makes me a well-rounded practitioner.

3. Describe your approach to patient care.

In my profession, trust is a huge indicator if I am going to get a good cast or not. Children want to know what I am doing, and if I have to make up a story about how the casts are princess boots or that my cast scissor is a train going through a tunnel, I do it! Trust also comes in to play when you work with babies in the cranial remolding world. It is important to listen to the concerns of the parents and also be ready to support, encourage, and reassure them throughout the treatment process. It makes a world of difference when it comes to compliance.

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

I use an Orthomerica STARscanner for cranial evaluations. It is a great tool for us to be able to get comparative data and generate scans for fabrication of cranial remolding orthoses (CROs), which is less stressful on the baby and the parents. Smaller, more portable versions of technology like this are on the horizon, opening the gates for more outreach and services that can be done away from the office.

5. What advice would you give to someone just starting out in O&P?

Keep an open mind; you will quickly come to find there are going to be parts of your job that are out of your control. Part of doing your job well comes from giving your attention to the things you can control and not getting caught up in the details of the things you can't. Get connected with other providers, stay teachable, and never stop learning.