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Karen Edwards Blogger

Profile of Women in O&P Leadership

Posted by Karen Edwards | March 20, 2015

Welcome to the March edition of the OWLI blog. Our group has grown by leaps and bounds and we are now at 110 subscribers and counting!  Please continue to encourage your colleagues, residents, and students to register, and let’s see if we can hit 150 by the end of March!

Thanks to all who attended our first quarterly webinar held on March 13. We watched Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk, “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders” and held a lively, interactive discussion on how we can apply what we learned to our own professional lives. One request that came from that webinar was to have some type of online forum where we can all meet each other and discuss ideas. As a result we have created the Ossur Women's Leadership Initiative Facebook Page! Search "groups" for "Ossur Women's Leadership Initiative" and request to join. And please continue to share your great ideas!

This month’s blog is our first Profile of Women in O&P Leadership feature in which we highlight a woman who is a leader in the O&P profession. This month we highlight Brittany Stresing, CPO and owner of Limbionics of Durham, NC.

Name and current title:  Brittany Stresing, ABC Certified CPO, Owner of Limbionics of Durham, NC

Hometown:  Gainesville, FL

School:  University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, 2008

Number of years in O&P:  16

Current Leadership Positions: 

  • Owner, Limbionics of Durham
  • Secretary, NC O&P Trade Association
  • President-Elect AAOP, NC Chapter – the first female ever to hold this position
  • Triangle Business Journal’s 2015 Healthcare Hero Rising Star award winner
  • One of Durham Magazine’s Women of the Year, 2015

What is your most recent contribution to the field? I met with legislators in Washington, DC in 2014 and actively advocated for professional issues such as the burden of RAC audits.

What attracted you to the O&P profession?  At the age of 14 I was diagnosed with scoliosis, spina bifida occulta, and a 1.5” leg-length discrepancy. I had a bad experience with both my orthopedist and my orthotist. Frustrated with my care and after femoral osteotomy surgery at age 15 to have my leg shortened, I realized the level of care I received is not what others should have to go through.  I was always sculpting, welding, and glass blowing, so those skills went hand in hand with being a CPO. At 16 I volunteered with Hanger in Gainesville, FL and was hired as a tech few months later.

What obstacles have you overcome to achieve your success?

  • One of my first big successes was in high school. I played golf, but at my school, there was no women’s golf team, so I tried out for the men’s team. When I qualified, the surprised coach told me he never actually intended to let me on the team. So, within two weeks I started a women’s team with girls who had never golfed before, got enough players to qualify, got a golf course to allow us to practice and play there, found a golf coach, and secured our equipment. Within three years we were state finalists. This experience helped teach me that even if the path to what you want isn't paved, you can still pursue what you want and just pave the path as you go.
  • I applied to O&P school at an earlier age than most, and I was told that even though I qualified and had completed all of my required college courses, that I was too young to attend. I knew this is what I wanted to do, and I convinced them to admit me and graduated successfully.

What risks have you taken that have paid off?  Stepping out in April 2013 and opening my own practice. I am now one of the youngest independent O&P business owners in the country.

What qualities make a good leader?  Being able to recognize each person’s unique strengths, appreciating those qualities and utilizing them appropriately.

What is your perception of being a woman in the O&P field?  The O&P environment is fantastic for women and is better than it has ever been. We are much more accepted and respected, and it is starting to be noticed that we are as hard working and as capable as our male counterparts. Women bring a different attitude and tone to patient care which only enhances the practice as a whole.

One of my concerns is that women in engineering are now being told to enter the O&P field because “there are no women in it” but with no concept of what the profession really is. Everyone should enter the field informed and for the right reasons.

Have you used a mentor? Who helped you along the way?  Yes, Steve Mersch, CPO at Hanger in Gainesville, Fl. He told me from the beginning, ‘if you want to do this, I will teach you every aspect, from front office to tech to practitioner.’  I cleaned floors, got the mail, changed light bulbs, saw patients, and called to verify insurance. He made sure I understood every facet of the business. We still stay in touch today.

What advice would you give to a new practitioner?  What you learn in school is important, but there is nothing like hands-on experience. Get in there and be as hands-on as possible and learn everything you can. You are not above pouring plaster or doing anything else that needs doing, even if it seems boring. It all helps you to grow as a practitioner and to have respect for every part of the profession.

How can we get more women in leadership roles within O&P?  Women have to understand their worth and realize that they are just as able as males to take those positions and should not back down from opportunities.

 

THANK YOU to Brittany for sharing her insights with us and for being a great example of a leader in our profession! We hope to highlight one female O&P leader each quarter, so please email us names of women you think we should feature!  And we are looking forward to next month’s blog about negotiating skills.

BONUS FOR OWLI MEMBERS:  We are giving away five copies of Seth Godin’s book What To Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn). We will be drawing names from everyone registered for OWLI on April 10 and the winners will have the book mailed to them and their names mentioned in the April edition of our blog. Good luck!

Thanks for being a part of OWLI and congratulations on being a leader in your profession!

Until April,

Karen Edwards

Director, Össur Women’s Leadership Initiative

 

OWLI Quote of the Month (Brittany’s favorite quote):  If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.  – John Quincy Adams

 

Talk to us!! Your feedback is welcomed and encouraged! Please let us know what you think of our initiative, share your ideas, share your victories, or just say “hi” by emailing us at OWLI@Ossur.com. And follow us on Twitter @OWLIOssur.