John Ruzich, CP, LP

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John Ruzich, CP, LP

John Ruzich, CP, LP, learned about careers in O&P by happenstance. He grew up on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, an area abundant with steel mills, where he graduated from high school in 1968. He says he had not given serious consideration to attending college until being drafted became a possibility. He enrolled in a nearby college that was affiliated with the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center (NUPOC), Chicago. Since he enjoyed his science classes and was looking for a major that would allow him to help people, he enrolled in NUPOC’s program. Ruzich says he has especially appreciated the opportunity to give something back to our veterans for the sacrifices they have made.

1. How has your career progressed?

For the last 22 years, I have been a partner with Scheck & Siress, headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. I am the laboratory manager at the Hickory Hills, Illinois, office, and a member of the company’s board of directors. I am also an adjunct faculty member in the NUPOC education department. As part of my involvement in the O&P profession, I served as an examiner for American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics certification exams. I am also proud of my work on the board of directors of the Midwest Chapter of the American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists, and have volunteered with the Hearts in Motion Foundation in Cali, Columbia, where I provided prostheses and trained local technicians on fabrication techniques.

Earlier in my career, I spent five years helping to develop a custom-seating system for wheelchair-bound individuals. This gave me another level of respect for the individuals who work with this patient population.

2. What are your professional and personal goals?

Professionally, I want to share some of the knowledge I have accumulated over the years and to continue to provide the best care I can. Personally, although I still enjoy working in prosthetics, I would like to have more time to travel with my wife of 32 years and spend more time with my family and friends.

3. What emerging trends or exciting advances do you see for your profession?

Microprocessor-assisted componentry is very impressive, especially the BiOM foot-ankle. The new options in liners, vacuum suspension systems, subischial sockets, and flexible sockets for people with transfemoral amputations are very exciting. Our role as prosthetists has already changed from mostly technical to mostly clinical work. The next phase may be more about information technology—programming components and analyzing data instead of spending the majority of our time fitting sockets.

4. Please describe your approach to patient care.

When working with new amputees, I find out their goals and then explain what we will do to achieve them. Developing a plan with the patient that lays out the steps that he or she will go through helps to relieve some of the anxiety that accompanies being fit with a first prosthesis. When working with longtime prosthetic users, I ask what obstacles they have faced that involved their prostheses or if there were activities that they would like to be able to try or do better. Keeping the patient informed about recent advances in the field helps to encourage him or her to consider other possibilities.

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

I would advise that they spend time with as many different practitioners as possible. Learning the subtle differences that each practitioner puts into creating his or her product is invaluable.

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