What’s in It for Me? Advantages to Allowing Others to Complete Patient Care Hours at Your Facility

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By Terry Reed, BOCPD

I took course work to become a certified pedorthist at Kennesaw State University. As I was nearing the end of my studies, I wondered how I would complete my 1,000 patient care hours, which are required by the profession's governing bodies in order to be eligible for the certification exam. I was the first person at my workplace to pursue this area of study, so there was no one for me to work under, nor was there another certified pedorthist in our area.

I spoke with my manager and told him I had looked up a few companies located about an hour away, in the hope that one would let me earn my experience hours there. He said he would call and see what they had to say. The first person he talked to asked a question that we could not answer: "What's in it for me?"

Thankfully, the Snell Prosthetic & Orthotic Laboratory, Jonesboro, Arkansas, facility was willing to let me gain my hours there. Now that I have completed them, I can answer the question the first gentleman asked. There are sound reasons a facility owner should help to mentor others as they gain their patient care hours, even if the person is not an employee:

1. It is the right thing to do.

It might seem like this point should be saved for later in the list, but I think it best to begin here. As I once heard a minister say, paraphrasing Martin Luther King Jr., "It is always right to do right." We are medical professionals. As such, we cannot turn a deaf ear to patients who need our help, whether we benefit from it or not. The same thing can be said about helping another person in our profession, as the end result should help patients. Here is an example: Last winter our town experienced an ice storm. Many businesses were closed, and the streets were difficult to navigate. A patient called needing a particular item right away. We did not have the item on-site, and it would take days to have one delivered because of the weather. Instead, we called another durable medical equipment facility in our town and found it had what we needed. We were told to come and get it and serve our patient. That facility did not benefit from helping us; it helped because it was the right thing to do.

2. It is the professional thing to do.

Pedorthists pride themselves on being professional people doing professional work. This means that although some of us may work as retailers as well as pedorthists, we do not think and act like typical retailers. Most retail settings are competitive environments with employees who are reluctant to help a potential competitor. In a professional healthcare setting, however, the good of the patient and the profession should come first.

3. It is the prestigious thing to do.

Ours is a small fraternity, so we tend to know what our colleagues are doing. Word gets around if you are doing something that is helpful. By helping future pedorthists obtain their experience hours for certification, you will be boosting your image among your peers. I have only been in this profession for a few years, and I already know the names of people around the country who are known for going the extra mile for our profession. If you want your facility to have a positive reputation in the field, consider sharing your time and talents with those trying to get started.

4. It is the profitable thing to do.

Training other people will help your business. On the surface, it looks like you are spending time and effort without benefit and are helping your competition. But if you look deeper, you will see the potential to increase your profits. When I was completing my course work, I asked one of my instructors, Donna Robertson, MS, ATC, CPed, if it would be difficult to find someone who would be willing to let me train under him or her. She said that I would have no trouble at all, and that it would be good for whoever helped me because I would become a referral source for him or her. When I spoke with Frank Snell, CPO, FAAOP, the CEO of Snell P&O Laboratory about training with his company, he said that it would be good for both of us for that same reason. And he was right: I have already sent a number of patients to Snell with problems that are too big for me to handle or who need more help than I can offer. Since I trained there, I know them and trust their work. Why would I recommend anyone else?

What's in it for you when you help someone earn his or her professional hours? I hope I have given you some reasons to say "yes" when someone trying to enter our profession comes calling.

Terry Reed, BOCPD, is a certified pedorthist working for Caldwell HME, Wynne, Arkansas. Reed is the only certified pedorthist in an eight-county area serving the Mississippi Delta region of that state. He can be reached at .