Meet Recent Grads in O&P
In the February issue of The O&P EDGE, we highlight several practitioners who are at the early stages of their careers. This Online Exclusive introduces two additional graduates who have completed their education within the last few years and are working to make an impression on their chosen profession.
A Defining Moment
Both of these practitioners experienced a time in their lives that eventually put them on the path toward a career in O&P. Nicholas Sellas, CPO, did his undergraduate work at West Virginia University and majored in psychology. He graduated in 2015 from the University of Pittsburgh Prosthetics and Orthotics master's degree program. That spring he began his orthotics residency at Hanger Clinic in Boardman, Ohio.
"I chose that place because of their strong ties with Akron Children's Hospital and my interest in working with children," says Sellas, who now works for Hanger Clinic in Pittsburgh. Because of his love for children, the residency was a life-changing experience. "I especially enjoy kids," he says. "They just want to run and play with their friends and I want to do anything I can to help facilitate that."
Sellas' residency also gave him the ability to think outside the box for his patients. "In school, we are taught to embrace technology and not be afraid to try something new for our patients," he says.
Ryan Butler, CPO, graduated in 2015 from Baylor College of Medicine's O&P master's program. He completed his undergraduate studies in 2013 at Brigham Young University where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. Butler says his first exposure with O&P came during his junior year of college while participating in a club on campus. "The combination of designing and creating with helping and serving others was very appealing to me," he says. "I found it to be a perfect blend of my interests."
Butler was offered a job with Prosthetics Orthotic Associates, Scottsdale, Arizona, upon graduation, where he continues to work today.
Facing the Challenges
What kind of challenges do these young professionals perceive now and in the future? Third-party reimbursement, lack of O&P practitioners to meet the growing need for services, and lack of awareness of the profession are some of the biggest factors in O&P today.
"I do believe that insurance will be a major issue for us going forward," Sellas says. Though, he adds, "Our field is doing a job of coming together with one voice and making a difference."
"Dealing with insurance companies and worrying about shrinking reimbursements may be alleviated in large part by providing proof that the care we provide is valuable and beneficial to our patients," Butler says.
Plenty to Offer
As relative newcomers to the profession, these practitioners say they have much to offer. The staff at POA didn't have much experience with CAD; Butler was able to help determine how digital 3D technology could be used in the office. "I had a few years of CAD experience during my undergraduate years and have been able to research the different software packages available and evaluate which would be best for our company," he says.
Leaving Their Mark
By the end of their careers, they hope to have left their mark on their field and made a difference in the lives of their patients. "I hope I can give my patients their independence back and be able to motivate them to do everything they put their mind to," Sellas says.
Butler agrees. "I hope to have used my skills and abilities to make other's lives a little easier."