Why I Choose Podiatry: My Most Memorable Patient

By: Christine
Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine
Class of 2019

The doctor motioned me to watch the procedure over his shoulders. This was the fifth diabetic patient that hour. Unknowingly, I held my breath in disbelief that the gentleman could not feel the slightest inkling of pain. I watched the familiar scene of the firmly held scalpel precisely debriding away the extra centimeters of callous around the wound. As the blade exposed fresh pink flesh, bright red blood began spotting through. “This is looking great Sir! Finally, the wound will have a chance to heal properly.” Cleanup was quick. I watched in awe as the gentleman shifted to put his cotton socks and suede shoes back on, smiling with a grateful spirit.

Walking out of the office that day, I was sure that shadowing my podiatric surgeon has been nothing but an exhilarating experience. It has fueled my passion to become a podiatrist and help others who are in sincere need. I have chosen podiatric medicine because I believe that I am compassionate, kind, gentle, and patient. Engaging in various communities, I have followed these tenets. I volunteered at the Adult Health Clinic (Christian Community Action’s charitable clinic in Lewisville, TX), keeping a record of patient needs and assisting with patient education. I also helped at my local hospital (Texas Health Presbyterian in Flower Mound, TX) serving as a patient liaison to family members waiting in the Intensive Care Unit. Furthermore, as an Associate Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Collin College and Eastfield College in the Dallas area, I had opportunities to encourage, motivate, and help students aspiring to go into the medical field reach their goals.

My passion for podiatric medicine goes beyond my shadowing experience. I have always strongly believed that medicine is one of the greatest forms of service to the community. Thus, I have completed an independent study examining the functional organization of temporal auditory cortices at the University of Connecticut. One of my undergraduate medical research goals was to learn about functional brain imaging in autistic patients, to advance treatment developments for these patients. Currently at TUSPM (Temple Univ. School of Podiatric Medicine), I am working on a dermoscopy project with Dr. Tracey Vlahovic; we are in the process of creating a database with various podiatric skin conditions so other doctors can use it to assess and diagnose similar conditions.

Extremely self-motivated without being patronizing, I simply want to do my best. I have an unabashed intellectual curiosity for science and a willful pursuit for new information. I also wish to lead with insight, thought, honesty, and most importantly, integrity. I take the time to serve and encourage other individuals in my community. In college, I successfully became a Nationally Certified EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) to broaden my experience in patient care. Throughout my time at UConn, I have mentored incoming freshmen in the WiMSE (Women in Math, Science, and Engineering) Learning Community. In graduate school, I worked on a community health project that studied the effects of a walking program to lower the rising obesity rates in the school-aged children of Pennsylvania. As a Professor, I have had the opportunity to extend compassion and genuine kindness to each student in my classroom. Many of my students come from difficult socio-economic backgrounds seeking a chance to further their education in hopes of a brighter future for their children. Currently, as a Temple Podiatry student, I have opportunities to treat and care for the patients that come to seek podiatric care in the Foot and Ankle Clinic.

I believe that a doctor has the role of a teacher, imparting knowledge and kindness to patients. These opportunities have not only given me a chance to reach out to my community but also to pursue my dreams. Also, it has taught me that I am capable of doing anything if I put my heart and mind to it. I am confident that I have the perseverance and the intellectual capacity to be a successful Podiatric Physician. In every task, my goal is to demonstrate my innate desire to learn. I also want to excel in my studies in podiatry and to serve others with a sincere and gentle heart.

What types of things does the field of podiatric surgery need to improve in the future?

Letting the world know of who we are and what we do: Podiatrists are surgeons! Podiatrists undergo four years of medical training, including 12 weeks of general anatomy, and an additional 14 weeks of intensive study of lower extremity anatomy. At the completion of these 4 years, a podiatrist must complete a 3–4 year surgical residency in order to become a practicing doctor.
I also believe the public could be better informed about the role that podiatrists play in the scope of medical practice. Not only do podiatrists participate in a wide array of foot and ankle related orthopedics, but they also play an integral part in diabetic wound care. With approximately 30 million Americans (about 9 percent of the population) diagnosed with diabetes and many more undiagnosed, the need for podiatric services in general wound care and limb salvage is critical to the medical community.

Podiatrists could actively seek out marketing campaigns, as such: I believe in the power of the word of mouth. Walt Disney said it best, “Do what you do so well, that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” Imparting patience, kindness, and encouragement to patients, in addition to expert medical care, is the best marketing tool to get the word out. Of course, I also believe that there are other ways to spread the word, like sponsoring 5k/marathons, volunteering at local health clinics, and placing ads in town magazines. There are also other creative methods I would suggest, such as using social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogs, and others. Making a presence on media outlets provides a way for podiatrists to inform and encourage patients with health tips, appointment reminders, and more. It has the ability to allow hundreds of patients at once to feel connected to their health care provider despite their hectic schedule.

Have the urge to write something? Are you motivated to publish something worth sharing? Want to give advice, helpful tips, or podiatry news to the younger generation? Visit our Authors section before submitting. Get in contact with us and one of our student journalists will reach out to you. We hope to get from people around the world that way.