Career Profile: Orthotist and Prosthetist
Joseph Miller, Prosthetist, Chemical Research Prosthetist, United States Armed Forces Amputee Patient Care Program, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.
National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education
I chose this career because…
I chose to become a prosthetist because of an unforgettable event, a family tradition, and training opportunities. As a teen, I attended a charitable function for disabled children sponsored by The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks of the USA with my father. There, for the first time, I saw kids wearing braces. I never forgot that occasion.
• Bachelor of Science, Health Science: Orthotics & Prosthetics, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, California
• Master of Science, Health Promotion, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
• Doctor of Philosophy (candidate), Health Administration, Touro University International, Online University
• Certificate, US Army Orthotics, US Army Academy of Health Sciences, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX
My typical workday involves…
My typical workday involves research, consulting and clinical practice.
Since we use computer driven means to duplicate a patient’s stump, I have a digital record of all patient care. This allows me to participate in research projects that use the record of decisions made during production of a prosthesis, the record of changes in techniques, and the introduction of new technology. Much of my research is supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA, http://www.darpa.mil/). This agency has successfully funded research that has resulted in advanced materials used in medicine, the Internet, and the Global Positioning System (or GPS, a tracking and navigation device). Currently, DARPA is supporting research in a new technology called Brain Machine Interfacing, which will result in more useful, versatile and life-like prosthetics.
I also collaborate and consult with various organizations to promote, advance and develop criteria and standards for prosthetics and prosthetists. As a member of various boards, I am in a position to exchange information, promote excellence in my field and shepherd the development of educational standards.
I am also involved in the daily management of patient care. I have a spreadsheet of all current patients and the progress of their prosthesis development as directed by a team of certified prosthetists. When necessary, I become directly involved in a patient’s care and will make final decisions on their care protocol.
What I like best/least about my work…
What I like best about my work is the ability to help people. It is very rewarding. To see someone take his/her first steps, who at first could not walk, makes all the hard work worthwhile.
What I like least about my work is the confines of reimbursement. In civilian practice, there is a limit to what the provider can give to a patient in terms of time and devices. These limits are based on the criteria set by insurance companies. I am grateful that such limits do not exist for the care that is given in the military. I can work with a patient until the rehabilitation with the prosthetic device is successful.
My career goals are…
My career goals are to:
• Finish my Ph. D.
• Work to change the reimbursement structure of Medicare and Medicaid Services
• Get promoted in the Army
• Find ways to enhance the orthotic/prosthesis industry, both private and military