Virginia Muthard, CPO/L, FAAOP
, doesn’t want to be overly dramatic about it, but she admits that joining the Orthotics and Prosthetics (O&P)
faculty at Salus University in the inaugural year of the program is a pretty big deal.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said. “To be able to be a part of something that is new, to build it the way we want, and to change the shape and direction of clinical care going forward is special.”
Originally from the Lehigh Valley area, Muthard graduated with a degree in Bioengineering from the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State. She then went on to Northwestern University for professional certificates in both prosthetics and orthotics. After spending 13 years in clinical care, she decided to make the transition to academia. She comes to the Salus O&P program after a year of teaching orthotics in the Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics (MSPO) program at the University of Pittsburgh.
She made the jump to academia because she enjoys teaching and believed she could help even more people than she was helping in clinical care.
“The way I described it to my patients is if I have 14 people on my schedule today, I have helped 14 people,” said Muthard. “But if I send 14 clinicians into the field who are highly trained and each of them helps 14 other people, the magnitude becomes exponential. The ability to change lives and to have a greater effect on the profession is an amazing opportunity.”
She started her new position at Salus on June 1, 2022, and is still getting her feet wet. She believes that under the leadership of J. Chad Duncan, PhD, CRC, CPO
, director of the University’s O&P program, Salus is building a program and assembling a faculty that is innovative and attractive to new students entering the profession. That’s important because the O&P profession is facing a shortfall of clinicians who have a lot of experience.
“It’s really up to us as educators, and as a profession, to get these newer clinicians as much up to speed as we possibly can because the shoes that need to be filled, not only are there a lot of them, but they’re big shoes to fill,” said Muthard.
She added that Salus’ O&P program will be training more well-rounded clinicians.
“Being involved with their patients, not just from a clinical perspective but understanding that when we give someone an orthosis or prosthesis, it becomes a part of their lives,” said Muthard. “We have to consider everything else about their lives when we’re doing that. And, one of the best ways to do that is getting involved and being invested in the success of your patients.”
She believes Salus University’s interdisciplinary approach is a critical aspect of being successful in clinical care.
“Playing an active role in a really good interdisciplinary team is an important aspect of effective clinical care. My colleagues and I developed strong interdisciplinary teams, and it was very helpful,” said Muthard. “The more you can utilize synergy, the better care is for the patient. The patient is really the one that benefits, and keeping the patient at the center is really my overall goal.”
Outside of the classroom, Muthard enjoys working with nonprofit organizations like the IM ABLE Foundation, which raises money to provide grants for adaptive sports equipment.
“Another way to invest in your patients is through volunteerism. Providing opportunities for support and networking is a great way to do this,” she said.
She is looking forward to encouraging student participation in these and other events.
“The Adaptive Sports Day
held recently at Salus was an amazing day for support and advocacy. We hope next year to provide even more opportunities in an interdisciplinary effort across campus,” she said.