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Karen Edwards Blogger

Profile of Women in O&P Leadership - June

Posted by Karen Edwards | June 19, 2015

Welcome to the June edition of the OWLI blog! This has been an exciting month with a LOT of things in the works for OWLI members! First, we have organized our second free webinar (DO NOT MISS THIS ONE) called "Playing to Win in a Man's World," featuring Elizabeth Loverso of Red Storm Entertainment on July 10 at 1pm EST click (// to register right now). We also gave away five copies of the book Lean In to our first five Facebook page members in June (the winners are announced below). Lastly we hosted a survey regarding your interest in a women's conference. Now THAT'S a fun month!

Thanks so much to the 44 respondents of our survey on your interest in an OWLI women's conference. Your answers and your comments were outstandingly helpful and overwhelmingly (93%) in favor of a conference! All of you who responded are women, and all but 4 of you are members of OWLI (c'mon ladies, let's get those other 4 to join us!). 58% of you said you would be willing to pay, so that lets us know to keep an eye on costs, and 72% of you prefer a Thursday-Saturday schedule. The topics you most prefer are Leadership Development and Negotiating Skills, followed by Communication Skills, Career Development and Professional Networking. And lastly, 77% of you would like some extra-curricular activities as part of the event. We are very excited that so many of you have an interest and see a need for this type of professional development; hence, we are actively working on the logistics and hope to soon announce a date for the first annual OWLI conference to be held in early 2016! If any of you didn't respond to the survey and still want to weigh in, please do. We will keep the survey open through the end of June. You can respond at: //

This month we are proud to present our second 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 Jocelyn Wong, MSPO, CPO at Independence Prosthetics and Orthotics in Newark, DE.

Name and current title:  Jocelyn Wong, MSPO, CPO, prosthetic specialist and Clinical Director of IPO's STAR campus office (University of Delaware) held in conjunction with BADER Consortium

Hometown:  Pacifica, CA

School:  Georgia Institute of Technology,  Atlanta, GA, MSPO 2006

Number of years in O&P:  16

Current Leadership Positions: 

  • Founder, AAOP Women in O&P
  • Mid-Atlantic Triathlon Director for Team RWB, a non-profit veteran's organization, and Development Committee Member for a Wilmington-Newark chapter

What attracted you to the O&P profession?

  The summer before my senior year in college (2002), I was a research assistant for a civil engineer/prosthetist at UNLV (Dr. Ed Neumann). I was a kinesiology major and considered pursuing a career in running shoe design. That summer I was also training for my first Ironman triathlon. At work our research subject was a woman with a transfemoral amputation, and she swam and biked just like I did. Every day I would walk home from campus and realize how much I took for granted having two legs. I also raced in many triathlons in California during the early 2000's when the Challenged Athletes Foundation was really starting to take off, and met several fellow triathletes who competed with prosthetic limbs.

What contributions have you made to the field?

My master's thesis was on the biomechanics of backward walking in transtibial amputees, which I presented at a couple of conferences including the Academy Meeting in 2007. At the time, I remember some people laughing that it was an irrelevant topic, claiming that amputees didn't need to walk backwards. I would argue that everybody takes backwards (and sideways) steps, for example when going to the grocery store and pulling back a shopping cart. In recent years, I've found that when a manufacturer is showing me a new product (microprocessor knees and ankles, prosthetic feet) many of them mention the product's functionality in walking backwards or taking backward steps.

What obstacles have you overcome to achieve your success?

I knew I wanted to attend a master's program in O&P because I was interested in both the clinical and research aspects, and I believed in the idea of elevating the profession to a new level. At the time, the only master's program was across the country in Georgia (I was living in California at the time), but I believed that heading out there would be worth it, and I proudly enrolled in the third class that went through the MSPO program. Once I was out working in the field, being one of the first MSPO graduates was interesting to say the least, as I experienced some pushback from older practitioners who didn't see the value of a master's degree.

As of 2013, the entry-level master's degree became mandatory for O&P education, which I feel helps validate our profession amongst the other allied health professions and when demonstrating our worth to insurance companies. Unfortunately, reimbursement for our patient care has become more of an issue recently, and so I do feel that more outcomes-related research in our field will help us in this regard. I currently work with a referring physician who still calls us "vendors" which I find completely unflattering, so anything we can do as a profession to elevate that perspective would benefit all of us!


What risks have you taken that have paid off?

I took 3 years off from a traditional O&P career path following residency in order to pursue my other passion of racing as a professional triathlete. I was recruited by an international team and attended multiple training camps overseas (in Asia and Europe). I qualified for my elite triathlon license the same time I became certified as a CPO and became the first Asian-American female pro triathlete. I specialized in the Ironman distance (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run) and had the chance to travel the world racing triathlons. I made the most of this time by volunteering at humanitarian prosthetics missions (with the Prosthesis Foundation of Thailand and the Physicians for Peace chapter in the Philippines) whenever I could as I wanted to learn how O&P healthcare was done in developing countries. When I was based in the USA, I stayed involved in O&P by volunteering at local athletic events like CAF's running and mobility clinics for amputees and Paralympic competitions.

Eventually I missed working in O&P on a full-time basis and returned to work. While I was initially worried about my professional triathlon experience being a blemish on my resume to potential employers, I found that it actually helped set me apart from other applicants: I demonstrated the hard work ethic of a serious athlete, had an arsenal of sport-specific skills I could apply to younger and active patients, and had volunteer experience in other countries. When I worked as a contract prosthetist at Walter Reed, my former boss (Mike Corcoran, CPO) was a two-time Olympian and he could appreciate my hard work ethic and dedication based on my athletic background.

How do you define "success"?

 To me, success in our field is simply two components: a) being able to make a difference in the lives of patients and generating positive outcomes with their O&P treatment, and b) enjoying your job and being happy going into work each day.


What was the key to your success?  When I look over my short career in O&P thus far, the one thing that stands out is that I always seized opportunities as they were presented to me and believed in myself and in forging my own path. I was willing to relocate for educational, work, and life experiences, and was able to follow my other passions and tie them into work

What is your perception of being a woman in the O&P field?

  These days, I don't really see a difference between being a man or woman in this field. I've been told that I'm a great listener (when I worked at an office where I was the only female practitioner) but I feel that it's more of a personal trait rather than a gender-specific trait. Every now and then I get a new female patient who has worn a prosthesis for 20-30 years, and she gets excited that I am her first female prosthetist. Sometimes they feel like I can better relate to certain aspects of their prosthesis (typically aesthetic-related) that male practitioners didn't prioritize.


When I entered the field over 10 years ago, there seemed to be more of a disparity; however, I've found that there is now greater balance in practitioners entering the field. I'm not sure if this is related to the implementation of an entry-level master's degree, or just more awareness of O&P as a career path due to the prevalence of prosthetics in the media following the many war injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Have you used a mentor? Who helped you along the way?

Gary Berke, MS, CP (past president of AAOP) was my prosthetics residency director whom I had known since shadowing him as a student. I was his first resident when he started his private practice, and I have always reached out to him for advice for any major career decisions--whether it was switching jobs or doing something ridiculous like leaving the field for 3 years to pursue triathlon!

I also give credit to my mentors at Walter Reed: Mike Corcoran, CPO; Art Molnar, CPO; and Roger Hamilton, BOCP. It was such a fast-paced environment with so many complex cases; I was thrown into it pretty quickly and enjoyed every bit of it! I'm so grateful for everything I learned during that time and have been applying my knowledge to helping civilians get the same quality of care.

What advice would you give to a new practitioner?

Respect everybody you work with and appreciate that it's a team effort. This includes your patients, the technicians and admins, physical therapists and doctors. Don't ever feel entitled to anything and or feel that you are above anybody else.

What advice would you give to young women entering the O&P field?  Don't be afraid of the manual labor and technical skills necessary for the job. I believe it's very important to refine your hand skills and be self-sufficient in doing your own repairs, pouring up plaster, and pulling plastic when necessary. You never know if you'll be placed in a satellite office without a technician, or if all your technicians are out of the office when you need them.

What challenges do you think women currently face in the O&P field?  The same challenges that working women have in any field: fighting for equal wages, balancing work life with family life, and maternity leave.

How can we get more women in leadership roles within O&P?

This can start with volunteering on a smaller level in order to gain the confidence to pursue bigger leadership roles. Whether it is related to O&P or not (such as local groups that you support or volunteer in), I think developing leadership skills in other avenues can eventually help you apply them to your profession on a larger scale.


to Jocelyn 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 send us names of women you think we should feature!  And, as an ADDED INCENTIVE, we are giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card to the first three people to suggest someone on 1) email (, 2) Facebook (Ossur Women's Leadership Initiative) and 3) Twitter (@OWLIOssur).


MAY WINNERS:  Congratulations to the following OWLI members who were the first five to join our OWLI Facebook last month and received a copy of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg:  Nina Bondre, Leigh Davis, Julianne Gupta, Kimber Nation, and Heather Owen O'Conner. Please, please join our page and use it freely to talk to our group!

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

Until July,

Karen Edwards

Director, Össur Women's Leadership Initiative


OWLI Quote of the Month (Jocelyn's favorite quote):  "If you want to be somebody, go out and TAKE IT!" – Brett Sutton, Jocelyn's former triathlon coach who has trained both past and current world champions and Olympic champions in swimming and triathlon.


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 And follow us on Twitter @OWLIOssur and Facebook at Ossur Women's Leadership Initiative page.