From Australia to El Paso: A Resident’s Journey to Hanger Clinic
Sherie Ford, Hanger Clinic Resident
My passion for prosthetics and orthotics began back in 2008 when I was walking through a town in Queensland, Australia, and saw a young boy walking with a prosthetic leg. It was at that moment that I thought, “I could make that!” So, I went home, googled it, and decided that this was the career for me.
In 2012, I enrolled in a double degree, Bachelor of Health Science and Master of Clinical Prosthetics and Orthotics at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. Whilst studying at La Trobe, I had several good clinical experiences, including Skeletal Support Systems (Cairns), Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital, and APC Prosthetics (Sydney), but my favorite was Veterans International (Phnom Penh, Cambodia).
Whilst working on cast modifications in Phnom Penh, I was approached by a man whom I had read about and seen on TV, Dr. Munjed Al Muderis. He was completing the first Osseointegration surgery in a third-world country and needed a prosthetist. I wasn’t confident that I could fill those shoes, but I gave myself a little pep talk and put forth my best effort. Over the next few days, I designed a component that married his adapter to the limb components supplied by the Red Cross, he completed the surgery, and we had the patient up and walking on an osseointegrated limb. What an amazing feeling!
After university, I moved to the United Kingdom to start my career as a Clinical Prosthetist/Orthotist. This experience turned out to be far more valuable than I expected. In university, a professor told me, “Sherie, when you are learning you want to see volume and variety. Keep that in mind!” My time in the UK definitely provided volume and variety. However, in a socialized medicine program like the one I worked for, high-end components were often denied, so by the time I finished my employment contract, I hadn’t seen or supplied most of the components I’d wanted to.
I met my husband whilst I was living in England, and he was in the United States Air Force. We eventually decided to move to the United States where I was thrilled to find a position with Hanger Clinic in El Paso, Texas. I was so excited to be offered an opportunity with a world-renowned company that would allow me to learn and grow into the clinician I aspire to be. I chose to complete two one-year residencies and am currently in my first (prosthetics).
My time in El Paso so far has been wonderful. We have a great group of people out here, and I am getting to see all the components and cool limbs that I’ve lacked in previous clinics. I owe a massive thank you to Hanger’s National Residency Program Coordinator, Dyan Cassidy, for getting me here and my manager, Edmundo Corchado, for taking me under his wing and encouraging me to be the best that I can be.
Prosthetics and orthotics really is my passion, and I look forward to enjoying the rest of my residencies with Hanger Clinic!