Lessons In Service

Lessons In Service

Writing Competition 2019

As members of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine student club at Des Moines University, we strive to make it a priority to use our skills and resources to reach out to the community around us. While our main priority is to always help others, we have found that community service offers a multitude of other benefits to podiatric medical students as well. One of those benefits includes the way that community service unites people together. In that same way, AAPSM has brought the four of us students together to educate our classmates on the podiatric sports medicine field and has given us a variety of opportunities to serve others. What follows are personal experiences that each of us has experienced in community service/mission trips and the lessons gained from them.


As a first-year podiatric medical student, involvement in many campus events and clubs has been a way for me to develop a sense of community in a new and intense environment. Being the first-year class president and President-elect of the AAPSM student club, I have made it a personal task to foster this type of environment among my fellow classmates and members of the clubs/events I participate in. Being a non-traditional student who is several years older than my learning colleagues, I find this to be a great way to insert myself into many different circumstances and situations.

The environment I am trying to create is centered around grasping any opportunities that cross my path and learning from them to further myself personally and intellectually. This was my train of thought as I applied to travel to Breathitt County, Kentucky for a service trip over spring break. I had many feelings and emotions about what to expect on the trip but wanted to use it as an opportunity to put myself in situations that I do not normally find myself. I was raised in a rural community of 500 in northeastern Nebraska, so I had some ideas for what it meant to live and work in a rural environment. Traveling to Breathitt County blew the doors off any expectations or preconceived notions I had coming into the trip. The differences in where I grew up and where I was during the service trip were stark in comparison. The number of challenges (poor economy, a high number of foster children, geographic isolation, etc.) Breathitt County faces day to day makes growing up in rural Nebraska seem much easier. Using this opportunity to learn more about healthcare in different settings and challenging myself intellectually was one of my motivations for the trip and I feel the trip lived up to these expectations. I would advise current and future students to seize these opportunities when they become available to broaden their world view and become aware of cultures/populations that are different than what they are comfortable with. Every person on the planet can benefit from inserting themselves into situations that are outside their comfort zone as this enables ourselves to grow as a person and will affect the level of care we provide in our future podiatric practices. Long story short: be open to every opportunity that presents itself, both in your personal or academic life and see where it takes you, I promise you will not be disappointed.

  • By Devon Niewohner, DMU-CPMS (Class of 2022)

For reasons such as these, I believe it is vital for podiatric medical students to participate in community service as part of their training.

My name is Mary Brandt, and I am a second-year podiatry student at Des Moines University. AAPSM sparked my interest during my first year at DMU because it tied together some of the reasons that I chose the podiatric medical field altogether. Having grown up being very involved in sports, I was excited to have found a field that combined that passion with my interest in medicine. I am now a second-year podiatry student, and I am very grateful to be the president of our AAPSM club.

A responsibility that comes along with this role is to direct the planning of a Foot and Ankle First Aid tent at the IMT Des Moines Marathon. Each year, AAPSM works to organize all the volunteers and supplies to make this tent possible. The tent is located near the finish line so that runners are able to have their feet examined after finishing the race. The runners present with a variety of complaints ranging from blisters to pain from existing pathology. With the assistance of the podiatry faculty at DMU, students can examine and treat the runners as they come through. Some skills that students get to participate in include bandaging blisters, stretching out tight muscles, and wrapping sprained ankles. It is extremely rewarding to see these athletes walk away in less pain or discomfort than they had initially presented. This volunteer opportunity also offers so many more benefits to the podiatry students themselves, especially students who are interested in pursuing a specialty in sports medicine. As the first and second-year students, getting hands-on experience with patients is very limited. The marathon is many times a student’s first encounter to not only interact but also treat a real patient. It has taught me how to further my knowledge from the classroom and apply it to a real situation that isn’t just black and white. Volunteering at the marathon presents an opportunity to gain more experience communicating with patients, while simultaneously promoting the field of podiatry to the community around us. For reasons such as these, I believe it is vital for podiatric medical students to participate in community service as part of their training.


  • By Mary Brandt, DMU-CPMS (Class of 2021)


My name is Katherine Ternent and I am a 2nd-year podiatry student from Omaha, Nebraska. I have been involved in community service all throughout middle school, high school, college and now podiatry school to give back to the community. I was beyond excited when I became the Vice President of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine club at DMU for the year of 2018-2019. As Vice President, I proposed and implemented many ideas of what we could do for the club to give the members great learning experiences and chances to get involved in service projects.

AAPSM has been involved in excellent community service events this year, but we still have a new project in development. Ping pong is a popular hobby at Des Moines University for students of all health professions, so as a sports medicine club, we decided to set up a tournament. It will be a fun opportunity for the students to show off their skills and meet others who also like playing the game of ping pong. The tournament will be a canned food drive so we can donate to a local food pantry that feeds the homeless in Des Moines and surrounding areas. I hope for this tournament to continue and grow in numbers in the following years so that AAPSM can keep giving back. It is important to be involved in volunteer work, because as health professionals in training, our goal is to help people and make lives better. While we cannot quite do that yet medically, we can certainly help through other types of service.


  • By Katherine Ternent, DMU-CPMS (Class of 2021)


At the taping station where I was working, we were able to educate many children who had never heard of podiatry and make it more relatable through athletic injuries. After an ankle injury presentation, we paired up with two or three kids and worked hands-on to teach them the importance of ankle injury prevention and management.

My name is Megan Kingston and I am a first-year podiatric medical student at Des Moines University. I decided to get involved with DMU’s American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM) Club because I enjoy participating in podiatry related campus activities and I have always appreciated being a part of athletics. As one of the first-year AAPSM liaisons, I am responsible for assisting the President and Vice President with events, bringing new ideas to the club, and encouraging the podiatric student body to participate in AAPSM sponsored activities.

Working together with DMU’s AAPSM leaders and members has been an exciting and educational experience that I feel very fortunate to have been involved with during my first year of education. At our public events, we focus on community involvement to fulfill our mission of positively affecting the public’s awareness of podiatric sports medicine and promoting health and safety in active individuals.

Two community events that our members participate in include Boys Reaching for Opportunities in Science (BROS) and Girls Exploring Medicine and Science (GEMS). BROS and GEMS are free events offered to over 400 middle school aged students, where they are invited to come to DMU for a day of medical related workshops led by DMU students. The events offer a variety of activities including orthotics casting, ankle taping, stretching and sports preparation, nutrition education, anatomy demonstrations, surgery labs, and injury treatment. The BROS and GEMS events provide the perfect setting for community outreach. At the taping station where I was working, we were able to educate many children who had never heard of podiatry and make it more relatable through athletic injuries. After an ankle injury presentation, we paired up with two or three kids and worked hands-on to teach them the importance of ankle injury prevention and management.

During my first year of involvement, I have found that community service is incredibly important as a podiatry student because it encourages others to consider working in medicine, it gives exposure to the podiatric medical field, and it provides experiences that will enhance future patient care. I have truly enjoyed getting to know and sharing my education with DMU’s community. Through volunteering, I have had the opportunity to be involved with many community members including youth, underserved, interprofessional medical workers, athletes, and older adults. Serving and providing education for a diverse group of individuals now, will help me better understand my future patients so that I can provide the highest quality of patient-centered care.

  • By Megan Kingston, DMU-CPMS (Class of 2023)


The community service opportunities that AAPSM and Des Moines University have provided us with have had such great impact on each of us, giving us the footsteps to follow in the direction to becoming better equipped podiatric physicians in the future. We hope that our collective experiences can help others create a passion and environment for service that will be beneficial to themselves and to their communities.

Student Organization: American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine student club

School: Des Moines University


1st Annual Hallux Magazine Writing Competition – 2019

Hallux Magazine Writing Competition – Finalist

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