Todd McCoy, CO

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While he was still in high school, Todd McCoy, CO, thought that his interest in healthcare was leading him to a career in physical therapy. But after a stint shadowing his uncle, Barry McCoy, CPO, at Hasbro Children's Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, McCoy discovered O&P.

Since completing the Newington Certificate Program, Connecticut, in orthotics in 2000, and his residency at Connecticut Children's Medical Center (CCMC), Hartford, McCoy has been employed by Hanger Clinic. He has been at his current location, the Hanger Clinic CCMC patient care facility, since 2008.

He says that the family ties to the profession might have been his initial motivation, but "the challenges offered and goals I set each day...provide the driving force to pursue excellence and never settle for less."

1. How has your career progressed?

While I was an undergraduate student at Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, I worked with Roger Park, CO, who gave me my first hands-on experience in the profession. He was very generous with his time and input as I began my career. After my residency at CCMC, I worked for Hanger Clinic in south central Pennsylvania, during which time I worked closely with postpolio and pediatric populations. After seven years, I returned to CCMC. The fast-paced environment at Hanger and CCMC, as well as the guidance and support from the clinicians and technicians there, shaped the foundation of my career.

2. Please describe what your work entails.

My work at CCMC is pediatric based and revolves around treating patients who are in the cerebral palsy (CP), developmentally delayed, or athletic populations. The majority of cases I see involve lower-limb, spinal, and contracture management. I've also had the opportunity to work with the rehabilitation, orthopedic, and neurology departments for care of the children we see. We also cover a local hospital for trauma and postoperative care of adult patients.

3. What emerging trends or exciting advances do you see for your profession?

Innovative Neurotronics' Pediatric WalkAide system and the dynamic contracture management of patients with CP are exciting advances. I have a strong desire to introduce new technology to the pediatric population and to their referring physicians to improve patients' rehabilitative pathways. Technology will continue to alter our professional landscape and offer new possibilities for treatment. The challenge is to grab hold of it and not get stuck in the mindset of only using what has always worked.

4. What do you see in the future for O&P?

It's critical that the O&P profession be seen as a respectable, educated, and necessary part of the healthcare system on a national level. As healthcare changes, every generation of O&P clinicians must further our profession, especially in such a competitive environment. Education, research, and adaptation are necessary for the O&P profession to stay ahead of the changes.

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

Make education a priority. Align yourself with those who have been in the profession for a long time. Make sure your referral sources know you as a person, not just as a business card or an office down the street. Stop in to see them regularly and keep them informed of emerging technologies. Try to find a niche that only you can do, and do it well. Being authentic, being friendly yet professional, and working with integrity will establish long-lasting relationships that are rewarding professionally and personally.