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Spotlight of a Mentor and Protégé in O&P
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Carin Erbland, CPO

Carin Erbland, CPO
Carin hiking up Mount Adams in Washington.

How did you find this profession?

My brother was born with osteogenesis imperfecta and wears lower-limb orthoses. I would attend his orthotic and physical therapy appointments with him and became interested in the health professions. After shadowing a CPO in the field, I decided to change my plans of pursuing physical therapy to orthotics and prosthetics!

What area of prosthetics or orthotics most interests you?

I enjoy working with pediatric patients but have also been fortunate to work in a variety of clinical settings to allow a broad spectrum of experience. A specific interest in research has led me to my current role as a project coordinator and I plan to pursue a master's of public health.

What has been your most satisfying clinical experience?

I have had the opportunity to volunteer in several developing countries and provide O&P care with ROMP Global in Guatemala, Gomez Orthotics in Colombia, and the CRUDEM Foundation in Haiti. Though people live in extreme poverty and difficult conditions, they have such joy and thankfulness for what they do have. These have been incredible experiences and I encourage practitioners to get involved with charitable organizations.

What has been most frustrating to you in your O&P career?

Learning about L-codes, reimbursement, legislative affairs, and Medicare.

What is something you wish you would have known before you started your residency?

I had not spent a lot of time in a lab, so I learned many of my technical skills during my residency. It would have been helpful to have some previous experience in an O&P lab.

What advice would you give current students on residency search and selection?

The Academy holds an Interview Day at its Annual Meeting, which gives you an opportunity to interview with many different employers at the same venue. Go into your search with an open mind, yet be clear of what your interests are and specific goals you have for your residency year.

What would you say to high school or college students to encourage them to choose this profession?

This field is a wonderful mix of clinical care, art, teaching, and invention. I was attracted to the field because of my passion to help others, interest in health, and ability to work with my hands. I would strongly encourage an interested student to take a day to shadow a certified practitioner.

How has the mentoring relationship been valuable to you?

I have had several mentors in the past who have passed on great advice and helped shape my career path. My current protégé and I actually met during my orthotic residency, when I spoke about the O&P profession at her college to fulfill my NCOPE requirements. We lost touch for many years and by chance (?!) were matched through the Academy Mentoring Program! It is great to see that my passion for this field sparked her interest in orthotics and prosthetics.

What is one thing that people in the O&P industry would be surprised to know about you?

I have an identical twin sister.

Gloria Cho

Gloria Cho
Gloria kayaking on the Chattahoochee River.

How did you find this profession?

I was finishing up proctoring a quiz my freshman year of college and an information session on prosthetics happened to be held in the same room. I walked in late, but on the presenter's PowerPoint slide were the five exact things I had been telling people I wanted in a job.

What area of prosthetics or orthotics most interests you?

I would like to experiment in new and improved methods of prosthetic design that would be beneficial to conditions in developing nations.

What are you most looking forward to in clinical practice?

I am excited to work with patients whose clinical presentations require me to think outside the box. I want to get creative in a way that will most benefit the patient.

What is something you wish you would have known before you started your O&P education?

I haven't learned anything since becoming an O&P student that would have deterred me from entering the field.

What would you say to high school or college students to encourage them to choose this profession?

It is a great combination of engineering and medicine. It is also a very rewarding career where you can make a world of a difference to people in need.

How has the mentoring relationship been valuable to you?

It was very exciting to realize that my mentor was the young woman who I'd seen present that O&P information session during my freshman year of college. I was reconnected with the person who introduced me to O&P. Not only was the reconnection valuable, but through the relationship, I have gained access to greater networking, a person I can go to for any personal questions regarding the field, and someone off of whom I can bounce research ideas. In addition, we both have a strong interest in missions work overseas. My mentor has helped answer several questions on how to get involved internationally. I hope to go on mission trips with her in the future.

What is one thing that people in the O&P industry would be surprised to know about you?

Break dancing is my favorite form of exercise. I wonder if I will ever get the chance to fit a prosthesis on a break dancer to allow them to continue dancing. That would be an exciting day!

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The American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists
1331 H Street NW, Suite 501 Washington DC, 20005
(202) 380-3663
info@oandp.org