While pursuing an education in athletic therapy, Jenna Dibblee, C. Ped (C), found herself struggling with sidelining athletes due to pain or injury. She always strived to find a safe solution to allow participation. Her interest in bracing led her to start job shadowing a pedorthist during her undergraduate studies in Kingston, ON. Learning from a mentor opened her eyes to a field she was unaware of at the beginning of her educational path.
After receiving her pedorthic certification, Jenna began working as a pedorthist in Ottawa, making custom orthotics and specializing in orthopedic bracing. At the same time, she worked at Carleton University as a certified athletic therapist with the varsity rugby team. Since then, she has moved to Port Perry, ON where she works seasonally as an athletic therapist at Ontario Tech University, and part time at BioPed Lindsay as a pedorthist.
Jenna finds her work very rewarding, especially when patients with knee osteoarthritis try on an unloading knee brace and notice instantaneously decreased pain. “The looks of shock and tears of relief are well worth the investment,” she says. Jenna always tries to make a lasting connection with her patients. “We have the privilege to spend adequate one-on-one time with patients so that they feel heard and that their concerns are addressed.” She finds that patients are appreciative when pedorthists focus on patient education.
Her clinic having reopened since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jenna’s appointments are now scheduled further apart to allow for thorough disinfecting and sanitizing procedures. Staff at her clinic are all equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment and patients are screened prior to and upon arrival.
Jenna hopes to one day pursue her master’s degree in rehabilitation sciences so she can teach and inspire future students in the applied health care field.
In her years after high school, Laura Pantano, C. Ped (C), was unsure what career path to take. She went to college for dental assisting, but after completing the program she decided to apply to Brock University’s Kinesiology program. Having grown up playing soccer and sustaining a few injuries along the way, Laura was always interested in researching ways to improve her recovery. After graduating, she was offered an apprenticeship at a pedorthics clinic. Though this opportunity did not work out, Laura was set on a career path and studied to get a diploma in pedorthics.
After receiving her PAC certification, Laura worked for four years in the clinic where she completed her final educational placement. There, she learned practices for fabrication and casting. After that, Laura found an open position for a pedorthist at a local prosthetic and orthotic clinic near her home in the Niagara region. She was thrilled at the opportunity to work alongside prosthetists and orthotists and has since been caring for a range of patients she never imagined. “From custom made knee ankle foot orthosis (KAFO) devices to prosthetic limbs through osteointegration, the diversity of the patient population that comes through our doors is immense,” Laura says.
Laura has been integrating the latest scanning and 3D printing technology into foot orthotics. Her company is developing a device using 3D printing that is just as good, if not better than the traditional fabricated foot orthotic. “We have a great team of technicians that I work alongside and hopefully by 2021 I can start dispensing (the new orthotics) regularly,” Laura says.
Laura tries not to bring her workday – good or bad – into her home. “Since we spend the majority of our time outside of our families, I give mine my full attention when at home,” she says. Laura has three children, two of which are twins. In her spare time, she loves to play soccer, although her league is currently shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic began, she has taken up long distance running. Laura also loves being outdoors with her children, riding bikes, going to the beach, hiking, and playing in their backyard.
Heidi Scott, C. Ped (C), found herself driven toward a career in pedorthics after gaining experience early on working with mobility challenged children. After founding HealthQuest in 1995, she operated as an independent health supply business in Newfoundland and Labrador. After 20 years of building the now well-known and respected HealthQuest, Heidi sold her business and relocated to Ontario. There, she works as an independent vendor licensee with the Hudson’s Bay Company.
For Heidi, the most rewarding thing about being a pedorthist is her relationship with her clients. She says a pedorthist should always appreciate their clients’ and welcome suggestions “you can’t fix what you never hear about, so I really appreciate client feedback”, she sees it as an opportunity to improve on evolve to a best level of service.
Heidi is very proud of her accomplishments with HealthQuest. Growing a business that has become so widely known has allowed her reach to extend to more people in need of a pedorthist’s help. Under Heidi’s ownership, HealthQuestexpanded operations four times, having opened two locations in Newfoundland and Labrador – one in St. John’s and one in Grand Falls-Windsor.
“I’m also very happy that I was able to attract the attention of a major national brand like the Hudson’s Bay Company,” she says. “I’m happy to be working in partnership with them.” In the future, Heidi looks to expand her presence within the Hudson’sBay Company’s landscape.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Heidi’s practice reopened and has begun taking appointments again. In addition to the recommended hygiene protocols, appointments are scheduled further apart, and Heidi holds virtual consults for clients.
Outside of pedorthics, Heidi loves golfing, boating, and James Bond movies.
Julia Hayman’s, C. Ped (C), interest in pedorthics started at only 13 years old, after receiving her first pair of orthotics from a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. This interaction later inspired her to pursue a degree in Kinesiology with a specialization in pedorthics from the University of Western Ontario. Today, she’s living in Barrie, ON as a Certified Pedorthist with over five years of experience in the field. Julia believes patience and understanding are what makes a great pedorthist.
About a year and half ago, Julia proudly opened her own practice, On the Ball Orthotics. She wants to continue building her practice with other Pedorthists and teach a few students along the way. Julia is passionate about discovering innovative pain relief solutions for her patients.
Julia has reopened On the Ball Orthotics since the COVID-19 closure. The clinic now provides hand sanitizer, pre-screening procedures, and increased room disinfecting in between appointments for all patients. They also encourage patients to book their visits ahead of time.
When she’s not working with patients, she could be playing beach and court volleyball, water and downhill skiing, hiking, biking, or running. She also enjoys volunteering, cooking, and baking on her spare time.
Julia’s advice for aspiring pedortists:
“Always continue to learn from others. There are so many different techniques and new knowledge to learn. The same treatment doesn’t work for everyone, and sometimes you need to think outside of your normal routine to come up with a solution.”
Sean Murray, C. Ped (C) lives in Gloucester, ON has been practicing pedorthics for 30 years and now works at his clinic in Ottawa – Ottawa Sport & Health Clinic. He loves to travel, stay active and plays golf and hockey on his free time.
Upon completing his diploma in Sport Injury Management from Sheridan College, he knew he needed a career that would fulfil his fascination of biomechanics. He began to connect with athletic therapists and started learning about orthotic design and manufacturing; it was then that he shifted his focus from treating pain to preventing pain using orthotics.
After Sean completed his C. Ped (C) certification, he branched out into a partnership and opened a privately-owned orthotic clinic, where he established an on-site lab for manufacturing. After a few years, he also joined in with a newly formed sports injury clinic. Sean was drawn to the idea of this new clinic because it encompassed many services to meet all patient needs. From bracing, to chiropractic needs, to orthotics, his clinic employs a team of incredible experts. Sean loves being self-employed and enjoys working with a team of like-minded health care professionals. He is proud of his long-lasting relationships with both patients and specialists in his community. In fact, his network had grown so much that he established several satellite clinics in Ottawa to reach an even broader audience.
Sean is incredibly happy that he gets to help people everyday. His favourite feeling is when a patient tries orthotics instead of getting surgery, and the orthotic works! There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a client pain-free and active again.
He has two pieces of advice for pedorthists out there.
- “Don’t oversell. People are putting their trust in us to recommend appropriate care and if you oversell or over promise, that not only tarnishes the industry but your individual reputation. Much of my success if based off word of mouth. You cannot afford unhappy patients.”
- “Take the opportunity to network in the Association and take advantage of the Symposiums. Much of my learning has been the result of interesting keynote speakers and colleagues. Over the years, I have also participated in the pedorthic placement program. These mentoring opportunities have been very fulfilling for me personally.”
Tanya Conrad, C. Ped (C) is a busy mother of four who spends all of her time either at her privately-owned clinic or at the dance studio cheering on her kids. Tanya grew up in the Maritimes and attended Dalhousie University, where she received her Bachelor of Kinesiology.
Tanya knew she wanted a career that allowed her to help people, which is why she completed her Kinesiology degree. However, her previous career path was not rewarding enough for her. She set off on a new path when her brother convinced her to take the Diploma in Pedorthics at Western University while she was pregnant with her third child! Tanya rather enjoyed being a “mature student” at Western and knew that pedorthics was the right path for her.
Upon graduating, she worked at a few different clinics and labs. Tanya very much enjoyed being a part of the manufacturing process and believes that it’s important to see orthotics are made. After working for 2 years, Tanya was eager for another new adventure. She opened Excel Fitness & Orthotics two years ago and is loving every minute of being a clinic owner. She loves the flexibility and autonomy that it has allowed her to have; maintaining a work-life balance is very important to Tanya and her growing family.
Tanya’s favourite part about her job is helping people and hearing their success stories. She loves when her orthotics have helped a client with Parkinson’s or one who has suffered from a stroke. There is nothing more rewarding to her than bumping into a client on the street and hearing how much more active and better that they’ve been doing since using her orthotics.
Tanya encourages everyone to try new things and to not afraid to take a risk. She took a risk by starting a new career path at 38-years-old and she took a risk opening her own clinic but look at her now. She is standing strong and loving life. Tanya also truly believes in asking for help and guidance whenever you need it. Community and family are what got her where she is today.