Whether he’s talking about business, academics or his personal life, Steve Whiteside, CO, FAAOP exudes passion. It’s evident in the big, bold statements he makes about the importance of volunteering: “Organizations that want to be viable need to have structure. And in order for an organization like ABC to maintain its viability, you need support from volunteers. You can’t buy it. It comes from people and is expressed in the form of volunteerism.”
An ABC volunteer for nearly three decades, Steve has held nearly every position available: examiner, auditor, site coordinator, exam development committee, director and President of the Board of Directors. In recognition of his extraordinary volunteer spirit, Steve was honored with the William D. Beiswenger Volunteer Award during his tenure as Board President.
Steve’s desire to make the exam more clinically representative drove him in 1999 to work with ABC in transitioning from an exam focused on craftsman-like skills to one that emphasized diagnostic evaluation, assessment and formulation of care. “Developing this with ABC was absolutely critical to the profession’s future,” he states unequivocally. “At the time I got involved, prescriptions were too detailed. You made what was written and that wasn’t necessarily best for the patient.”
In addition to his work with the exam, Steve has also served as the chair of the Practice Analysis Task Force. In this role, he oversaw a massive survey of the profession that serves as a snapshot of contemporary practices. The project allows ABC and its certified practitioners to see the evolution of the profession and measure themselves against current practices. It also provides concrete practice evidence that ensures that the certification exam is current with best practices.
Focusing on best practices and standards of excellence has served Steve well in the nearly 40 years that he’s had his own business. He points to the stories of special patients whose care has measurably impacted their lives. Steve thinks back to a young lady with a polio diagnosis who just wanted to wear pretty, feminine clothes but did not feel comfortable with her orthosis. Steve looked beyond the piece of paper that she came in with, using biomechanical principles to craft a below-the-knee laminated AFO that was the same color as her skin. The emotion is evident as he reflects, “She is now approaching something she wants more than ever, which is to be ‘normal.’”
For Steve Whiteside, passion is endemic to who he is and what he does. It’s especially evident when he speaks about giving his time to others. “As long as I can see that I have value, I will keep doing it. I am a volunteer as long as I am breathing and have blood pumping through my veins.”