“You reach a certain point in your career where you either stay at the same level professionally or you have a choice to get involved,” says Steven Chu, CPO, an ABC volunteer for nearly a decade.
The tipping point for Steven came from his father, who encouraged him to give back once he felt his career was well in hand and even seeking a boost. As a business owner and clinician, Steven considered volunteer roles in science and business before choosing education and credentialing as something where he could be hands-on, rather than taking a more removed academic or business 'event’ position.
As an orthotic and prosthetic CPM examiner, Steven sees his role as more than an assessor. For him it’s about being the face of the profession to new candidates while assisting them through the stress of the practical exam.
Beyond that though, it’s about the opportunity to interact with multiple practitioners throughout the country, expanding his contacts and his wealth of knowledge beyond the typical clinical day. Steven jokingly adds, “I have four past presidents of ABC on my speed dial!”
One of those presidents is Mo Kenney, who organizes regular medical mission trips to countries where there is a demand for volunteer O&P services. Steven has joined these trips and others, including one this year coordinated through his local rehab hospital to Haiti. On this trip, Steven worked with staff of a small community hospital to demonstrate how to make adjustments and modifications to items coming from the larger cities. He calls it ‘off the street staff training.’
But what is very unique to Steven, who resides in eastern Pennsylvania, is his involvement with the local adaptive skiing group. A former able-bodied ski instructor, he now volunteers three months a year during the short snow season with the adaptive ski program at the Jack Frost Ski Resort in the Pocono Mountains. One of his patients, a 41-year-old avid snowboarder, lost his leg to diabetes. Steven recalls the patient coming in dejected because he never thought he’d be back on his board. “I made him a promise that I’d get him back and six months later we’re running down Jack Frost. I’ll never forget it.”
Many times ABC volunteers come through referrals from other practitioners. Less often do good candidates raise their hands and walk through the front door. It’s something that Steven highly recommends and stands ready to discuss with those practitioners thinking about volunteering.