Five Questions for Rhonda F. Turner

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Rhonda F. Turner, PhD, MBA, JD, CFM, BOCPO , is a self-proclaimed Parrot Head with a lifelong passion for medicine and an unquenchable desire for new challenges. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Jimmy Buffett fan worked as an emergency medical technician (EMT) while in college and moved into the O&P profession soon after. "I have always been interested in medicine," Turner said. "A friend introduced me to the O&P profession, and I was challenged by the constantly changing environment."

She progressed from patient care to business ownership. Her company, The Prosthetic Center in Houston, Texas, does it all-from custom orthotics, prosthetics, post-mastectomy care, and pedorthics to natropathic treatments and psychological counseling. Turner prides herself on her flexible, open-minded approach to patient care and says she is constantly trying to reinvent what it means to be an O&P professional. For example, she has taken a proactive approach to dealing with patients who have or are at risk of developing diabetes. Rather than wait for surgeons to send diabetes-related amputees her way, Turner promotes a healthy lifestyle, beginning with a proper diet, in order to prevent wounds that could turn into major problems and possibly lead to amputations.

When Turner is not busy with her practice, she stays active with diving, sailing, photography, and traveling

1. What has motivated you in life and your professional pursuits?

The challenge of new things is my motivation. Almost everyone has contributed to my success-teachers, parents, friends. Wisdom and encouragement are all around if we stop and listen.

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

Technological advances, of course; computerization, etc. But I also see a trend toward a higher level of professionalism and recognition within the medical community. Though O&P is one of the oldest professions, it is still a very young industry because it is constantly reinventing itself.

3. Describe your approach to patient care. What do you feel sets your approach apart from other practitioners?

The most important thing to my approach is listening to the patient, especially to what they don't say. Providing a working device is only 50 percent of a positive outcome. We've set ourselves apart by being patient centric, and our office is composed mostly of women.

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

Be open-minded. Use what you have been taught in school not as the end but as the beginning of a wonderful and rewarding career. More than anything, have fun along the way.

5. What are your personal and professional goals?

I want to contribute to the O&P profession and help raise awareness in both public and political arenas. I hope to teach and write, passing on what I have learned and am still experiencing.