Erin O’Brien, CPO, LPO, FAAOP
Hanger Clinic, Houston Medical Center
What does being a Fellow mean to you?
I’ve wanted to be a Fellow of the Academy since I learned it was an option. To me, being a Fellow means that you’ve put thought and effort into your career, that you’re giving back to the profession by volunteering or educating, and that you’re always striving to improve your own practice. It means that you’re willing to go above and beyond to better yourself as a clinician and as an industry leader.
How did you decide to get into O&P?
I first learned about O&P through a family friend who was in school for orthotics and prosthetics at the time. He suggested that this career might be a great way to combine my love of biology and my people skills in a creative way. I never had the desire to go to medical school, but somehow the combination of all of the aspects and skills involved in orthotics and prosthetics just made sense to me for a career path.
What kinds of things do you like to do outside of the office?
I recently moved to Oregon, so when I’m not at work, I really enjoy getting outside to take in all of the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest—hiking, biking, camping, etc. I also really love to bake, so when it’s too cold and rainy to get outside, I work on my cake decorating skills.
What advice would you offer to those about to or hoping to enter the profession?
Orthotics and prosthetics is a great field filled with fantastic people. I’ve met some of my best friends and some of the smartest people I know through my job. It’s challenging and frustrating at times, but it might be the most rewarding thing you ever do.
What do you believe is the most serious issue facing O&P?
I think that the difficulties around reimbursement are the most serious issues right now. As much as all of us love to help our patients out, none of us will be able to afford to stay in business if the trends in reimbursement, audits, and LCDs continue on their current path. I think our responsibility as an industry is to provide proof, through academic research and cost-benefit analyses, that our services are worthwhile and that we can actually save the insurance companies money over the long haul by providing care to our patients.