Founding an O&P Student Society
February 2018 Issue
In August 2017, the 22 students in the 2018 cohort of the California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) Orthotic and Prosthetic Education Program combined their academic and professional goals to form the CSUDH Orthotics and Prosthetics Society. With a goal of benefitting current and future O&P students, the society offered an opportunity for the current students, whose classroom and lab facilities are 30 minutes from the main campus, to participate in a relevant extracurricular activity.
Initially, the class representative and now president of the society wrote the organization's bylaws and constitution with the aid of a template provided by the university. She then spearheaded a student body meeting, during which the cohort established the society's common goals and ideas, which were incorporated into the bylaws. The bylaws also included the purpose of the society, how to obtain members, the structure of leadership positions, and disciplinary actions of members.
An executive board consisting of a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer were elected. Another seven positions, including chairs for public relations, alumni relations, residency, and community service were formed. Board members and council members were nominated by members of the class, and elections were held to vote on leadership positions. The officers determined the goals of the society would be to provide resources, professional networking opportunities, fellowship, and community involvement for O&P students.
Some challenges arose as the society launched, including obtaining a bank account, registering with the division of health sciences, of which the O&P program is part, as well as finding a faculty advisor. With guidance from the university, however, each challenge was addressed appropriately. Monthly meetings allowed individuals to address society concerns as well as present new opportunities to members. As the founding members became second-year students and new first-year students entered the program, the first-years were provided with second-year mentors to assist with the transition to graduate school. The first-years also had the opportunity to elect a representative to serve on the executive board and act as a liaison between the first-year students and the society. Each of the 23 first-year students chose to join the society, doubling its membership.
The Orthotics and Prosthetics Society currently assists in volunteering at local events, hosting residency mixers and student research days, and ensuring all patient models who visit the program are comfortable and welcomed into the facility. As the society continues to grow, we encourage other schools to form their own. Societies assist students in becoming well rounded and successful members of the O&P community. They also allow for connections between students, future employers, alumni, and other organizations to interact and work together to advance the field.
The society hopes to continue to impact not only the students who join but the surrounding community as well. This legacy started by the CSUDH Class of 2018 will be transitioned to the first-year students and as we continue our journeys, we hope that the future of the organization continues to impact those it reaches.
Rebecca Cook is a student in the Orthotic and Prosthetic Education Program at CSUDH. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.