Notes from US ISPO

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As O&P practitioners, a critical characteristic defining success is the ability to move beyond local and regional contexts and interact with a broader range of people. This is why two of the main missions of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) are to promote international collaboration and consensus building and foster an exchange of high-quality knowledge and networking.

This is not by accident. In a recent survey of prosthetists regarding self-assessments of their abilities to provide specialized care in upper limb, we found that one main difference between novices, intermediates, experts, and specialists was the number of "external linkages" they had. External linkages are all the people you consider your personal consultants for special projects. On average, the entire group had about 1.73 linkages; however, those who were experts/specialists at the national level had an average 4.85 external linkages-almost three times more people in their network! The implication is that a main difference between generalists and those who offer specialized care is the number of people they speak with outside of their contexts.

Broadly speaking, clinicians who are able to extend their communications and become more globally connected are able to offer far more specialized services than those who work in isolation in their local offices. Of course, traveling to remote international areas may not be practical for a majority of O&P practitioners. This is why the meetings sponsored by ISPO and the U.S. Member Society of the ISPO (US ISPO) at the Pacific (Pac) Rim and Caribbean Rim conferences become so relevant. The venues offer opportunities to interact with groups, companies, and individuals from around the globe. For example, the PAC Rim conference brings together researchers and clinicians from Australia, Korea, Iran, China, Japan, and the United States and features exchanges with luminaries from the Mayo Clinic, headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota; the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics; Shriners Hospitals for Children; and other distinguished national and international institutions. The syntheses, opportunities, knowledge, and friendships generated from this multidisciplinary approach have opened the doors for many individuals who continue to be involved with outreach work in areas such as Belize, Haiti, and Nicaragua, as well as parts of Europe.

-Gerald Stark, CPO, LPO, FAAOP, US ISPO board member
and Elizabeth Mansfield, US ISPO board member