Face to Face: Peter R. Davidson, RN, CPO

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Observing O&P practitioners "thinking outside of the box" drew Peter Davidson, RN, CPO, to the profession. At the time, he was working as a flight paramedic/registered nurse for a teaching hospital and Level I trauma center. The hospital's O&P clinicians were called in to instruct the flight crew on advanced spinal care for air transport. Davidson was intrigued by a field of allied healthcare professionals that relied on their creative minds to solve problems "on the fly" and in three-dimensions—the feature of O&P he considers a blend of science and art. As an example, he offers the "transport brace" that his coworker Eric Lieux, CPO, at the Great Plains Rehabilitation Services O&P department, St. Alexius Medical Center, Bismarck, North Dakota, designed for twins conjoined at the crown of their heads—one anterior and the other posterior—so the children could be transported for separation without damaging their cervical spines.

1. How has your career progressed?

I graduated from the California State University, Dominguez Hills, orthotics program in 1987, and completed my orthotic residency at the Loma Linda University Medical Center, California, O&P department, where I stayed on as a certified orthotist. In 2000, I joined the Great Plains staff and challenged the ABC [American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics] board tests—a process called "windowing"—which allowed me to become a certified prosthetist.

The prosthetic extension of my degree has been the greatest blessing for me as it has added value to my patients and my employer. Learning is a continuum and always will be. Working with physicians and others who are dedicated to teaching, regardless of the setting, is key in improving one's own knowledge base and in becoming a better practitioner.

2. Please describe your approach to patient care.

Nursing fundamentals are a perfect foundation—something I use daily. This includes experience with wound care, recognizing when a patient might need additional medical attention, pain management issues, and drug reactions.

Much time is spent in dealing with loss and loss of limb, so good communication skills and listening to the patient and family is critical in regards to validating their feelings.

Offer real solutions based on fact and current information. If at all possible, get them support from like clients or organizations such as the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), Orthotic & Prosthetic Assistance Fund (OPAF) First Clinics, or local support groups. Be prepared to offer ancillary help!

3. What are your personal and/or professional goals?

My goal is to give back what has been given to me! Publishing, teaching, and continuing education are on the horizon.

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

Spend time involved in the field, not just observing. If it is something you feel you have a god-given talent for, and this is a place you experience more fun than you would at work, then it's a match!

5. Any closing thoughts you'd like to share?

I confess I listen little to those who claim to have all the answers, whether in O&P or other professions. My experience over the years has been that the wisest people in the industry tend to be the ones who admit, at times, "the answer may be unknown." Even with a wealth of knowledge, we can still be humbled by our collective outcomes, lessons learned, the human spirit, and the gift of healing. Sharing honest results, both favorable and not, is our duty.