Face to Face: Wendy A. Carter, LPN, CFom

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Wendy A. Carter says a twist of fate led her to a career in O&P. An obstetrics/gynecology nurse by trade, she spent the summer of 2005 doing missionary healthcare in Nicaragua and volunteering with the American Red Cross, assisting with hurricane Katrina victims. That September, while struggling to assist a wheelchair-bound patient into an O&P office, she met Jeffrey Brandt, CPO, and Jeffrey Quelet, CPO, owners of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania-based Ability Prosthetics & Orthotics. Her life was changed forever when she was offered an office administration position in Ability's Hagerstown, Maryland, office.

1. How has your career progressed?

I quickly moved into the role of certified fitter. I was unhappy with the process that breast cancer survivors faced in getting custom breast prostheses. The grueling process of a plaster cast was not something that I was willing to consider doing as a practitioner with today's technology! After using the 3D scanner for other duties, I asked, "Why can't we use this technology for the mastectomy division?" After a few trials, we developed a quick, efficient, effective, and streamlined process to achieve a mirrored image of the chest wall. I had an idea, and Ability said, "Let's give it a try." We launched Symmetry, Ability's post-mastectomy division, in 2010.

I am now the director of clinical operations of Symmetry and see patients in all ten of Ability's East Coast offices. I am also working toward becoming a certified orthotist.

2. What are your professional goals?

To make a difference! I want to be a leader in the industry and to be known as someone who develops new ideas. I want to continue to grow with Ability and continue to serve ten, 20, or even 30 practices across the United States.

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

Do not compare yourself to the practice or practitioner down the street. Do not settle for mediocre. Do not do something without your whole heart, mind, and soul invested.

Do give 100 percent. Fight for your patient. Continue to look for a better solution.

4. How do you set yourself apart from practitioners in your area?

A patient's time and money is valuable. I want to do things correctly the first time around; therefore, I spend a large amount of time listening to and understanding the patient and her needs before proceeding.

5. Please describe your approach to patient care.

Patient care is an art, and patients are the true charms in life. No matter the differences, each patient deserves to be treated with the same sincerity. I need to exceed patient expectations and develop that special relationship/bond. My top priority is to have a patient resume life with confidence. Patients are my true inspiration! It gives me no greater joy than to see a patient whose life is no longer interrupted by devastation.

I look at every patient as someone's mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, or friend. I want to make them smile and feel complete and to be a positive force in the lives of those I am blessed to meet. The word "change" can have a positive or negative connotation, and I want to be a part of the positive aspect!