Face to Face: Bryan Reich, RTPO

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Bryan Reich is a man who is hungry for knowledge. An amateur astronomer who says he "finds the challenge of pinpointing deep-sky objects relaxing and intriguing," Reich finds his greatest professional satisfaction in mastering materials and techniques—from state-of-the-art epoxy/carbon matrices to old-world leatherwork. After completing his training at what was then the 916 Technical Training Program (now Century College), White Bear Lake, Minnesota, he served in a variety of practices, learning each facility's specialties and methods before moving on. At Oregon Orthotic Services (OOS), Portland, where he now serves, he and two fellow technicians have a combined 50 years of O&P technical experience. "With that knowledge, we can help virtually any individual that comes through OOS' door," Reich says.

1. How did you become involved with O&P?

Living near 916, I became intrigued with the long-term potential available in an O&P career. After a tour and some research, I discovered that at the time, the program had 100-percent placement. I have enjoyed that success over the more than 25 years I've worked since graduating from their program. I have also enjoyed the many and varied materials that are utilized in the O&P field. To combine and create different materials to produce a specific result fascinates me each day.

2. Who or what has inspired you in your professional pursuits?

When I was fresh out of tech school, I went through the classic unlearn/relearn process so that I could actually make an orthosis or prosthesis. My teachers had said that they only teach entry-level skills, and they had that one figured out for sure! I can recall one of my employers, Ray Gustin, CP, shaking his head at some of my mistakes but being patient enough to show me the right way to do things. He was really old school—he even did anvil fittings on occasion, something that was never taught in any school. A coworker, Dale Fries, CO, was also an influence on fabricating and making things intentionally—to strive for the best each time, to mentally log, and to compensate the next time with the improvement that will make a brace better. He taught us to think outside the box to increase efficiency in fabricating techniques while still producing an appealing orthosis that is sellable.

3. What are your professional goals?

To continue to expand my knowledge of materials usage, manufacturers, and the countless new innovations that are being created. This is what keeps my interest—the technology advances in outside applications that are utilized in O&P. Throughout my career, there has been a progressive technological advance that continues to benefit amputees, and with that advance comes the challenge of developing new and better ways to help them.

4. What advice would you give to someone just entering the O&P profession?

There is always something to be learned from past experiences. Good and bad, this field is small and select enough that it is easy to get in a position to glean information from others. Knowledge is one thing that's hard to take away from a person, and it makes one a valuable asset to employers and ultimately to the patient.

5. Please describe your approach to patient care?

The team dynamic at OOS is such that we are not happy until the individual is. Striving for that quality is challenging and rewarding at the same time. There is always an improvement for the next time, whether it be avoiding a blemish or making a section stiffer or more flexible to allow better function. To give an individual better function allows me to finish a day satisfied.

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