Trish Yerges
The La Grande Observer

Dr. Stacey Clarke, a local podiatrist, will soon be practicing in New Zealand. She will bid the La Grande community farewell at a public reception between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Presbyterian Friendship Center, 1308 Washington Ave, in La Grande.

“I had been wanting to do patient care, and I wanted to look outside the traditional U.S. model because of insurance,” Clarke said. “Online I found all kinds of recruiters and options.”

She uploaded her resume to a recruiter in New Zealand, and three weeks later she had a job offer. Not having been in the job market for 28 years, she didn’t know what to expect, so she was pleasantly surprised.

“I had a WhatsApp interview with the CEO of the company and the co-workers, and the rest of the process has been trying to get my work visa,” she said.

Once Clarke has her 30-month work visa in hand, she has 60 days to get across the water and set foot in the country. Besides the visa, there are a few other requirements.

“I had to take a 20-page online open book test on their (Maori) laws and treaties, and I have to get a physical with a New Zealand-approved physician,” she said. “I will be going to Provo, Utah, for that in November, and I expect to be leaving for New Zealand at the end of December.”

Clarke’s new employer, Orthotic Active, is a publicly traded company in Auckland on the north island of New Zealand. She said the company wants to grow and become the go-to center across New Zealand’s north and south islands.

Clarke is excited to be part of the Orthotic Active team of professional orthotists who manage patient care, including assessments, diagnoses and treatment plans. The facility in Auckland is a one-stop care center with some of the best technologies available.

“They do 3-D scanning and 3-D printing of their orthotics, which will be done right there on site,” Clarke said. “I will be
interfacing with the 3-D printer and the ordering, so I’ll be in on the start of a revolutionary technology.”

Clarke will be a part of the professional team at Orthotic Active that will create a business model and then replicate it. For this reason, she may be asked to move to different locations within New Zealand to help set up new facilities for the company.

Orthotic Active was interested in her, Clarke said, because “they wanted someone with experience with orthotics as well as ankle foot orthoses. (They also needed) somebody who had already run their own business because they are looking for business metrics to be applied to their company.”

Clarke met those qualifications, plus has the additional designation of a muscle activation specialist, which is another way to augment the assessment of the patient.

“They were intrigued to incorporate that into their business model as well,” she said.

The job was posted for 12 weeks, she said, and they hadn’t received anyone locally with the desired qualifications, so the company was pleased when Clarke applied with her skill sets.

“I wanted to do something different,” she said. “I wanted to provide patient care and teach, (and) I’ll have some new podiatry grads beneath me I’ll be responsible for overseeing in the clinic, which will be fantastic.”

Clarke said she looks forward to living in a different country with a multicultural environment, which includes Pacific Islanders, the indigenous Maori and the Kiwi people. In contrast to the U.S., New Zealand has a public health system, and she is eager to learn about that, too.

In addition to the new technologies she will experience, the stimulation of a new culture and a different way of life, Clarke already has leisure interests in mind to pursue in New Zealand.

See more in Monday's edition of The Observer.