Case study

Orthotist — Nadia Morris

Although just starting out in her career as an orthotist, Nadia is already taking on complex cases that are further developing her skills and knowledge. Discover more about the many rewards of working in orthotics

What degree did you study?

I studied prosthetics and orthotics at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, and graduated in 2019.

How did you get your job?

I saw an advert for an orthotist at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, posted by a friend who was several years above me at university, and applied through NHS Jobs. I travelled down to London for an interview before securing the job.

What's a typical working day like?

Each working day can be very different. For example, the day can start with casting an inpatient for a post-operative spinal brace in plaster theatre, quickly followed by a morning of assessments and fittings of orthotic device, from insoles and footwear to leg and spinal braces.

I often spend the afternoon as the inpatient orthotist, going around the ward assessing and delivering orthoses and working with doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists to provide the best all-round patient care.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The job is very rewarding as you can see first-hand the impact that something you've made has on another person's life. As my patients are often frequent, life-long orthotic users or inpatients on the ward, I see them regularly and so have built up a good rapport with them. This makes seeing their progress even more rewarding.

Although the job is often fast-paced and challenging, there is still enough time for me to talk to a patient about what I, as an orthotist, can do to improve their quality of life.

What are the challenges?

One of the main challenges is managing patients and their expectations. Some patients will come in and are quite difficult to deal with, which means that you must have good interpersonal skills and be able to communicate with the patient well. Another challenge is managing the ever-growing workload.

How relevant is your degree?

Currently, to work as a prosthetist or orthotist you must have a degree in prosthetics and orthotics. As this profession is so unique, with only two universities in the UK running the course, you end up knowing quite a lot of qualified prosthetist/orthotists and will probably end up working with them at some point.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

Since starting my job I've been exposed to very complex and unique orthotic cases, which I'm now starting to take the lead on. I find it exciting when a difficult case comes in as I know that challenging myself will improve my knowledge and skills.

My career ambition is to take every opportunity to learn something new and to push myself so that I can deliver the best care possible for every patient.

What are your tips for others interested in this profession?

  • A job in prosthetics and orthotics is very rewarding but requires good time management skills, even when studying for the degree. Try to plan your time well and make good use of the free time you have.
  • Make as many connections as possible. Working in such a small field, you'll end up knowing a lot of the prosthetists and orthotists around the country. This means you can discuss difficult cases with others or even see job advertisements when they're first released.
  • Take every opportunity to learn - attend conferences, talk to people and take on exciting projects as the more you expose yourself to different ideas, the more you can improve.
  • Don't be afraid to move somewhere new for a job opportunity. Sometimes the best jobs, or the jobs that would suit you the most, are not near your home, but that doesn't mean you should pass up on a good opportunity.

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