Mark Kroll, CO
As a native Minnesotan from an O&P family, Mark Kroll, CO, gives back to the profession as a member of the executive board of the local chapter of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (the Academy), and as a lecturer and advisory committee member at Century College. He also shares his orthotics skills by traveling with Healing Hands for Haiti. The rest of his free time is spent with his family—he is a married father of four teenage boys—and "playing several stringed instruments poorly."
1. How did you become interested in O&P?
In 1926, my grandfather, August Kroll, started Kroll's Braces, Limbs and Shoes, St. Paul, Minnesota. As a boy, I would go to the shop on Saturday mornings and earn money by prelacing the new shoe shipments so the pedorthists could serve our customers faster. Ten cents a pair doesn't sound like much money now, but it sure did back then. We sold the family business to NovaCare Prosthetics & Orthotics in 1998.
2.What has motivated or inspired you?
Selling the family business was a difficult transition; however, it offered many opportunities for education and growth. Prior to the sale, all of my training came from family members who worked at the shop, and our longtime shoemaker, Tony. After the sale, I had access to some of the best practitioners in the country. I began going to O&P education fairs where I would attend presentations given by leaders in the profession. Not only did I gain a world of clinical knowledge, I also began to understand that public speaking is an important leadership skill. I had a fear of public speaking, so I joined Toastmasters and learned to cope with that fear. Public speaking is one of my most valuable skills.
3. How has your career progressed?
My first patient contact was in pedorthics at the family business; I became certified in pedorthics by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics (ABC) in 1992. Then I went on to become a Board of Certification/Accreditation-certified orthotist, and finally an ABC-certified orthotist. I became the orthotics department manager at Winkley Orthotics and Prosthetics, Golden Valley, Minnesota, in 2011, where I've worked since 2001. My job consists of patient care as well as managerial duties and internal audits to ensure we are compliant with our billing.
4. What emerging trends or exciting advances do you see for O&P?
With reimbursement levels flat or declining, O&P practitioners need to become as efficient as possible. A trend I am seeing is a move toward central fabrication for high-volume items, such as shoe inlays. Reimbursement for products like these are simply too low to fabricate in-house. Some advancements we're looking at are the new, less expensive 3D scanners and how we can incorporate them into our practice. One of our goals at Winkley is to explore how certified assistants can be utilized in our larger offices and how technology can streamline fabrication on certain devices.
5. What do you see in the future for O&P?
With the rapidly increasing use of 3D scanning and printing, we need to make sure we keep our value as clinicians. It will not be long before anyone can scan and print their own thoracic-lumbarsacral orthosis (TLSO), however, it still has to fit, function, and meet the structural needs of the patient. This is where our value will lie.