Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (TSRHC)
Bachelor of Prosthetics-Orthotics, 2010, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Orthotics Residency, 2010-11
Prosthetics Residency, 2011-12
“I became interested in the field of orthotics and prosthetics through my personal experience. I have scoliosis and was actually a patient at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, and wore a Boston back brace for scoliosis for three and a half years.
"So having that personal experience and the relationship with my practitioner helped me decide I could make a positive impact on a child with scoliosis. And scoliosis research really drove me into deciding to come to this program and to get into the field in the Dallas area.”
On Campus at UT Southwestern
Abbey, who is originally from (and currently resides in) Richardson, Texas, studied bassoon performance and completed prerequisite work at the University of Arkansas. She says, “At UT Southwestern, I valued the one-on-one time with the professors as well as the small classroom size.” In fact, Abbey’s class numbered just 15, which allowed the benefit of working in small groups and at a self-directed pace, when needed.
“We were small enough that we could guide our own curriculum, so to speak. I appreciated the time we got to spend with each other and the amount of research time we were given to accomplish what we wanted to do in the classroom.”
The Starting Rotation
During her time at UT Southwestern, Abbey completed a Prosthetics Department rotation at TSRHC and two orthotic rotations at outside facilities. She recalls, “I enjoyed rotations while in class two days a week. It really helped guide my education as I was receiving the clinical experience at the same time.”
“We work with all kinds of different professionals—physical therapists, occupational therapists, doctors, orthopaedic surgeons, speech pathologists. It’s really helpful in making the best decisions for the patient, because we get to see the total aspect of their daily care. Prosthetics & Orthotics is a great field if you like working with other people, other professionals, because the education is unlimited and you get to learn so much every day, just by working with other health care professionals.”
Abbey was once an actress. “I was in an a few amateur films that my neighbor made when I was about 10 or 12,” Abbey says. That neighbor entered his work in several film festivals, so Abbey has a place on the Internet Movie Database under her maiden name, Abbey Hazelbaker. (She married her fiancé, chemical engineer Tim Meyer, on June 11, 2011.)
The Last Word
Abbey admits that her favorite part of the job, thanks to her personal experience, is working with scoliosis patients, but she also loves working with kids. “I do just absolutely love it—bringing a smile to a child’s face and knowing you made a difference,” Abbey says.
“One of my favorite moments was when I delivered a pair of braces and the girl was so excited about them. I felt like I had given her a brand new car. It was an exciting moment for me as an orthotist and a young professional to realize that I was making a difference in children’s lives.”