Many people have watched “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” on TV. Tim Ruth has lived it – and he says the experience serves him well in his volunteer work with ABC. Tim, as it turns out, was a fifth-grade and eighth-grade teacher before switching careers and getting his orthotic and prosthetic certification.
As a member of the Kenney Orthopedics team, Tim watched past ABC president Mo Kenney give his time to the profession: “He seemed to love it, so I thought I’d give it a try.” About three years ago, Tim began volunteering as an orthotic CPM examiner for ABC and once he became eligible, he added the prosthetic CPM exam.
“My first time examining, I didn’t feel like an outsider. I was really impressed with how much people cared and wanted me to succeed.” Tim models that approach with exam candidates, recognizing how nervous they are coming into the test. He finds that something as simple as the way he introduces himself has a calming influence on a candidate.
He’s also motivated by the opportunity to provide care outside of the daily business. Soon after he finished his prosthetics education, Tim accompanied a group of practitioners to Mexico on a clinical trip to treat patients regardless of their means or insurance. As a relative newcomer, he got to dive in on a wide range of challenges, providing care without any ‘outside restrictions.’ One of his biggest takeaways was how resourceful he became: “People show up with donated knees, feet and other components. You have to think on the fly and problem-solve.”
“It’s so rewarding to treat patients without any distractions, knowing that they truly appreciate what you’re doing,” said Tim about his experience in Mexico. For him, it’s about helping the patient through the physical process of walking again, the emotional process of limb loss and helping them understand that living with an amputation means continuing life. Not surprisingly, Tim found the experience to be so rewarding that he plans to return to Mexico on a future trip.
Tim frequently mentions that he enjoys the one-on-one aspect of working with those in the profession, be it a patient, a family or exam candidates. “What we do is one of the most interesting careers I could imagine choosing.”