Clinicians: Keeping an Eye on What’s Important

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By Rebecca Cook, MSOP

Day by day, as clinical specialists, we give our all to meet other's needs, but what happens when we don't meet our own? It's likely that what inspired us to choose a career in O&P might be the very same thing that can keep us going in challenging times. However, if we don't regularly remind ourselves why we do what we do, it makes it easy to forget.


Growing up, I often heard the old adage, "love what you do and you won't work a day in your life." Nevertheless, how do you continue to love what you do when challenges regularly present themselves and your work starts to feel like a job, weighing you down instead of pushing you forward? Seeing patients in action and knowing that the work we put in for them does make a difference can remind clinicians how important their work really is.

Being in a profession that is forever changing, it is imperative that clinicians keep our skill sets competitive and our passions ignited. Sometimes the hour we get with a patient is not enough to fully understand his or her needs and the devices and assistive devices necessary to complete certain activities. To gain that understanding, it is important to investigate other aspects of O&P with a different perspective, a new outlook, and an open mind.

Organizations like the Range of Motion Project let clinicians to use their skills and creativity in a different capacity. They allow them to help give patients mobility while it challenges them to think critically and use limited resources. Experiences like this can provide perspective on the privileges of working in a first-world country and inspire practitioners from a service standpoint about giving back to the profession that allows them to provide for themselves and their families.

Adaptive sports organizations like the Orthotic and Prosthetic Activities Foundation and Angel City Sports give clinical staff the opportunity to work alongside patients, expanding their skill sets while making device adjustments. Serving on a variety of boards and in leadership positions with nonprofit organizations that cater to people with amputations affords clinical staff the opportunity to apply their skills to make a difference in the lives of others while seeing patients reach personal goals and milestones they may have thought they would not reach.

Attending local, national, and international O&P meetings and conventions give practitioners not only expanded knowledge bases and a more applicable approach to technology but also break the monotony that can occur in the routine of daily work. Each day we are problem solvers. We are constantly working to find immediate solutions and often don't get to see the long-term outcomes.

Participating in O&P-related activities outside the office allows for a change of pace and a way to reignite the passion, prevent burnout, and allows practitioners to stay current and engaged in a changing field. In order to be the best practitioner one can be, it is important to continue to learn, continue to advocate, and most importantly continue to grow. If you continue to love what you do, you won't ever work a day in your life.

Rebecca Cook, MSOP, is a resident at the Center for Orthotic & Prosthetic Care in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina. She can be reached at