Michael Madden, CPO, LPO, FAAOP
Oklahoma State University
What does being a Fellow mean to you?
There are many milestones that one can achieve throughout his or her professional career in O&P; I think being accepted as a Fellow of the Academy is a very significant milestone. It’s a great honor to be accepted as a Fellow of the Academy, and I hope it reflects the commitment I have to the O&P profession.
How did you decide to get into O&P?
I underwent a hip disarticulation amputation when I was six years old, so I grew up being positively impacted by the O&P profession from a very young age. When I was old enough to start thinking about what I was going to do for the rest of my life, it seemed like an obvious choice to consider O&P as a career path. Choosing to enter the profession was both personal and practical, and I consider it the best decision I could have made. On the personal side, I wanted to somehow repay John Neilson, CP, the prosthetist who dedicated so much time and effort to taking care of me while I was growing up. I decided the best way to pay him back was to give others the opportunity to achieve as much as I have been able to achieve, which in large part was because of what he had done for me over many years. After he passed away, his family made arrangements for me to purchase all of his tools, equipment, and supplies, and that helped me to initially establish my own practice. On the practical side, I knew I was going to be involved with O&P as a patient for the rest of my life, so why not learn how to make my own prosthesis?
What kinds of things do you like to do outside of the office?
I like to golf, though I’ve been told what I do on the course doesn’t look much like golf. I love to hunt and just generally spend time outdoors. I enjoy teaching computer classes to adults and seniors through a local school district’s community education program. I also enjoy arranging service-learning activities with my O&P technician students through the student club here on the OSUIT’s campus. By far the thing I enjoy the most is just hanging out with my wife, three kids, and seven grandchildren whenever I can.
What advice would you offer to those about to or hoping to enter the profession?
Jump in with enthusiasm and get ready for a wild ride; this is one of the most challenging and rewarding professions that I can imagine. Be flexible, nimble, teachable, and a lifelong learner. Never give up; you can be successful even against what may seem like impossible odds. We are just beginning to see what technical possibilities might emerge and integrate into O&P. In the past 50 years, I have seen this profession advance from wooden legs to myoelectrics, microprocessors, and osseo- and neuro-integration of prostheses. Despite all the hand-wringing and all the predictions about the end of O&P as we know it, I believe the O&P profession isn’t going away anytime soon. There will always be a need for our services, and we are the ones who are the experts at providing those services. How we do what we do may change as we move forward, but the O&P profession will always be best suited to lead the charge.
What do you believe is the most serious issue facing O&P?
I like to call it the Rodney Dangerfield syndrome, we don’t get no respect. For too long, we have been under-recognized and underappreciated for what we actually do. I think part of curing that syndrome involves getting ourselves out from under the DME/vendor umbrella and getting ourselves recognized as the medical profession that we are. Our unique challenge is that we incorporate a distinct product as part of the service we provide; those two things are often confused by many outside O&P. Extricating O&P out of DMEPOS may help change the perception of us as vendors and help move us further along the path of becoming recognized as the medical professionals that we are. I also think as we get better at showing those outside O&P what it is we actually do we will gain our rightful recognition among the ranks of other medical professions. I think that professional acknowledgement and recognition might go a long way to address other issues such as reimbursement and encroachment.