Off To The Races

Off to the Races

Writing Competition 2019

“VROOM VROOM”, was the sound going through the Cub Scouts’ minds as they walked up to place their pinewood derby car on the worn down, but smooth, wooden race track. This was the moment they had been preparing for weeks. Each Cub Scout spent many hours fine-tuning their racecar, transforming it from a block of wood into a magnificent machine.  Although the cars differed in appearance, every boy had the same goal: win the pinewood derby. They were each hopeful that they were the one who would bring home the gleaming 1st place trophy! As the boys placed their pinewood derby cars on the track, they admired the other cars alongside their own. As they did this, they realized their competition were their close friends in the local Cub Scout Troop. This was a friendly competition where woodworking, dedication, and creativity were showcased. Regardless of the results of the pinewood derby, they would still have good friends and have fun participating. The nerves settled down and the boys took a few steps back from the race track. The countdown began: 3…2…1… and the race was on.  


The pinewood derby is one of many fun and exciting activities that takes place in the Cub Scouts organization of the Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts of America focuses on teaching important moral principles and values to each participant. As a leader in scouting, it is important to be a good example of these values and principles. During our time as students at Des Moines University College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, we volunteer as leaders in the Boy Scouts of America organization. This requires multiple hours each week of planning and running activities for young men. It also requires that we are competent in scouting principles, and to live them ourselves. We feel one of the most important attributes of a good podiatric physician is service. As such, we felt that it was important to volunteer our time to help the youth in the community learn important lessons through scouting. The Scout Law outlines that Scouts are to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind and many other important attributes. Dedicated teamwork is also emphasized as boys learn to accomplish a common goal.  Leaders facilitate home learning by interacting with parents and family members. Scouting is a great environment where kids learn quickly that if you work hard, treat others with respect, and set goals, then you can have success. In scouting, awards are given to scouts who accomplish requirements. This instills that hard work leads to achievement.

If we show our patients that we have an attitude of service, trust and respect will assuredly be developed.  

Scouting was a great experience for both of us. We appreciate what we have learned from our time spent with Scouts, families and fellow leaders. As future podiatric physicians, we feel it is important to reach out and serve those in our communities. Soon, we will develop a competency to diagnose and treat foot and ankle pathology. As such, we now have a higher capacity to serve and help others because when we are treating the foot and ankle, we are treating an individual. If we show our patients that we have an attitude of service, trust and respect will assuredly be developed.  

We hope the reader is understanding the value of two important principles that each successful podiatrist must have: an attitude of service and competence. We need to have both qualities. We cannot let an attitude of service fall into the hazy backdrop of our aspirations to become competent podiatrists. On the contrary, one cannot fully serve without competence. If we create an imbalance, we could find ourselves treating pathology accurately, while forgetting about the individual who presents with that pathology. Those patients may be very dissatisfied with the care they received even though the diagnosis and treatment were valid. Even in common situations where a patient’s condition will not be resolved immediately, offering a competent and service-oriented care approach is invaluable. This can make all the difference. The patient and provider will grow in trust towards one another. Treatment plans will be mutually agreed upon, and expectations will be met.  

Beyond serving as leaders for the local Boy Scouts of America on a weekly basis, both of us are members of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine Club. Similarly, this club has provided us opportunities to combine competence with an attitude of service. Our service has included volunteering at the school sponsored “Get Your Foot in the Door” event, where high school students come to campus to learn about podiatry. We have utilized our skills in athletic taping and in ultrasonography to serve these students and enlighten their minds to the world of sports medicine. Like our service with the boy scouts, these were young people to whom we could make a positive impact.

We feel an important aspect of being podiatric physicians is the ability to be humble and willing to teach and answer questions to those following you.

Our club involvement also lead us to serve at the Des Moines Marathon. Many fatigued runners came to the Foot and Ankle tent for relief of their cramps and pain. The ability to stretch a tight muscle and watch the runner’s face go from pain and tension to one of comfort is very satisfying. As a third-year student volunteering at the marathon, it also provided an opportunity to share knowledge with younger colleagues. We feel an important aspect of being podiatric physicians is the ability to be humble and willing to teach and answer questions to those following you. We have relished in these opportunities to help other students grow in competency and develop an attitude of service.

Serving as a volunteer for the Iowa Special Olympics was another experience that we were afforded. Providing foot exams to athletes with variable disabilities was a heartwarming and enlightening experience. That community is one filled with gratitude for those who serve.  We were the ones volunteering to aid the athletes, but both parties were served and benefited. That is the case for almost all activities we have had the privilege of volunteering at, whether they be club sponsored, through our church community, or through scouting.

As we have used our competence to serve those around us through volunteering, we realize that we are tremendously blessed. Just like the scouts we are working with every week, podiatric physicians become more trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, and kind as we continually volunteer to serve our fellow men and women. That is why we all must develop genuine attitudes of service. As a profession, we have an excellent opportunity to come to the aid of and bless those in our community. Additionally, we have a wonderful opportunity to learn and be enriched by those in our communities as well. We are two students who have grown tremendously from that service. Just like our young Scouts who were eager to await the results of their pinewood derby race, we are eager to continue to learn and serve in our community. It won’t be long before we become podiatric physicians and are “Off to the Races” full of an attitude of service to those in our communities. We pledge to be passionate advocates of the importance of selfless service to those in our communities as we work to heal America one foot at a time.                         

by Alex Bischoff and Stephen Rockhill

Organization: American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, student club

School: Des Moines University College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery

1st Annual Hallux Magazine Writing Competition – 2019

Hallux Magazine Writing Competition – Finalist, 2nd place winners

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.