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Karen Edwards Blogger

The Value of Mentorship

Posted by Karen Edwards | April 23, 2017

Welcome to the April 2017 ÖWLI blog. We continue to strive to bring you relevant educational content and support. We hope you enjoyed our webinar in March on "Contagious Confidence" and that you will register for our next two webinars and our second annual Össur Women's Leadership Conference!

This month, we are very pleased to present our guest blogger, Nina Bondre. Nina is a Board Eligible Prosthetist Orthotist who works at Dankmeyer Prosthetics & Orthotics in Linthicum, MD. She also serves on the ÖWLI Steering Committee. Nina writes about one of the most-often asked about topics: Mentorship.

The Value of Mentorship

While I prepare for my board exams, I realize how many people have helped me along the way. As a young practitioner in the field I am indebted to the countless mentors that have encouraged and supported me. I am very lucky to have a broad network of people to whom I can reach out: professors, bosses, and connections I have made in the last few years. Why is mentorship so important, and why don't more young professionals have mentors?

While I don't suggest walking up to a prominent professional in the field and asking him or her to be your mentor, he or she may find that amusing. There are more tactful ways to connect with someone who you think may be a good mentor.

The first and most obvious choice is to use the Academy mentorship program already in place: The Academy AAOP Mentoring Program.

Note that the Academy mentoring program has specific deadlines for each cycle. If you missed it this year, put your name in for next year. If you are in this cycle, congratulations! Be sure to take the initiative and get in touch with your mentor. Figure out what the best method of communication is (one of mine liked to email and call, one liked to call only), and stick to your word about when you will contact your mentor. Having a regular schedule is helpful in the beginning while you are establishing a working relationship.

If you missed the deadline for the mentorship program, you can get involved with one of the many Academy societies. Get connected with the society (or societies!) that match your interests. The Academy AAOP Societies

Our field is small but powerful: be a contributor to a society and see what a difference you can make! This is a great way to network as you already have the common ground of a shared interest within O&P.

Lastly, I encourage you to strike out on your own at an AAOP chapter meeting or the national meeting. As a young practitioner it can be daunting, intimidating, and even plain awkward to approach people you do not know at a conference. It is an easy "out" to stick with people you know. However, you will not be able to make a brand for yourself if you are always with a friend or coworker. Don't only focus on what someone can provide for you. Even at an early stage in your career, you can still offer value to others who are more experienced practitioners. Try to demonstrate how you would be a good contact to have as well. While connections may not turn into "mentorships" it is helpful as a clinician to build your network of available resources and to understand how practices are run outside of your own bubble.

Once you have found your mentor or established a connection you would like to continue, what do you talk about? If you are signed up through the Academy for the mentorship program they will provide you with monthly topics to help start conversations. I instead like to talk about a recent interesting patient case, how to make our practice more efficient, and projects that I am trying to get involved with. Be mindful to ask your mentor what he or she is up to, don't only talk about yourself! I also enjoy sharing what I am involved with outside of work: travels, family, and hobbies. It is a good idea to try to meet up in person when possible at Academy meetings and other courses.

So why go through all the effort of making connections and seeking out mentorship? It makes you a better practitioner and an individual with more perspective. O&P is unique in that each facility operates very differently and practitioners create their own unique solutions to the same problems. It is invaluable to learn how to approach problems aside from your usual method. It is similarly important to understand O&P beyond the bubble of your office. Having not only one solution or perspective to a problem makes you more versatile, competent, and dare I say, a more valuable member of your company. Having a wide professional network gives you access to resources and opportunities that can help you further your own professional interests as well.

Ultimately, networking makes you a stronger practitioner and can help you provide the best patient care possible. While it may feel forced and intimidating at first, the more you network, the more natural and easy it feels. I encourage you to find new connections and grow your circles.

Thank you, Nina, for sharing this! We hope everyone will also take advantage of the networking opportunities available to you at the Össur Women's Leadership Conference (see registration info below).

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Reserve a spot on your schedule for the following upcoming ÖWLI events…

Jun. 16, 2017, 12-1pm Pacific Time: ÖWLI Webinar Series: Work/Life Balance. Our ÖWLI Webinar Series for 2017 continues with a look into a topic with which we all struggle -- how can we have "more time" to bring balance to our busy lives? Led by ÖWLI's own Karen Edwards, this webinar incorporates a video by time-management expert Laura Vanderkam and discusses how planning and choosing our activities can result in "created hours" and improved quality of work and life. Register HERE.

Sept. 28-30, 2017: Össur Women's Leadership Conference, Orlando, FL. If you came last year, you know you want to come again! If you missed last year's conference, NOW is your chance to register for this unique, professional conference designed exclusively for women in O&P. This year's schedule includes a workshop on building your personal brand, an extended panel discussion, multiple networking opportunities as well as some great entertainment. FYI, the Owners/Directors/Managers session will be held prior to the start of the conference the evening of Wed. 9/27 with a dinner, so make your plans accordingly. We only have 50 spaces available so REGISTER EARLY HERE!

Nov. 10, 2017, 12-1pm Central Time: ÖWLI Webinar Series: Attract the Attention of Influential Sponsors. Harvard Business Review has reported that high-potential women are over-mentored and under-sponsored relative to male peers. In this webinar, led by Jo Miller, CEO of Women's Leadership Coaching, Inc., explore the difference between mentors and sponsors. Learn four ways to make the most of mentoring conversations, and how to identify potential sponsors. Discover eight steps to gaining sponsorship, and leave with a personalized plan to attract the attention of an influential sponsor. REGISTRATION INFO COMING SOON!

Best wishes for an amazing month,

Karen Edwards
Director, Össur Women's Leadership Initiative

ÖWLI Quote of the Month: "If you want to fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others."―African proverb

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 join the ÖWLI Facebook Group today!