Clinical Experience: “An Early Learning Curve”

by Cindy Duong. 

Most Meaningful Clinical Experience to Date: An Early Learning Curve

Having recently started my clinical career as a third-year podiatric medical student, I have been eager to learn as much as possible with the number of patients I can see within a day. This is especially the case given the fact that there are 14 other third-year students in my clinical group. So depending on the rotation, I may only see 2-3 patients before noon. Some of the patients at Temples Foot and Ankle Institute may have experienced life-changing events, such as the case I had during my surgical rotation. 

About a week after starting my clinical career, I met an older male patient who came into our clinic’s surgery module for his routine diabetic foot care. Despite being in the surgery module, we were able to see all kinds of patients, rather than just post-op or follow-up patients. During the patient interview, I learned that he had been coming to the clinic for years. With that in mind, when I asked for his surgical history, he described a vascular procedure that I assumed was not done by the clinician he usually sees at the podiatry clinic. Given my gathered information, I had not taken into account the fact that podiatrists are able to work on vascular procedures as well. Therefore, when presenting my patient to the clinician, the attending asked me if he had done surgery on the patient before, to which I confidently replied “No.” As one may expect, I was mistaken, and thus, I was tasked to return and talk to the patient further for confirmation on the procedure that had taken place. The patient found it challenging to describe the exact procedure, but I soon realized the vascular procedure he had mentioned to me before was what I was looking for. Years ago, the clinician worked alongside a vascular surgeon to complete an emergent endovascular revascularization procedure. This minimally invasive procedure is indicated for patients with peripheral arterial disease, as well as critical limb ischemia (its more progressive and deadly form). The patient informed me that at that time, he was in a critical condition and needed to be taken into the operating room in a timely fashion in order to prevent the worst possible outcome, such as an amputation. Despite his difficulty in explaining the procedure in detail, I could discern from his smile just how grateful he was to be able to tell this story to me that day.

it was more satisfying to see how thankful the patient was for the care he had received over the years.

My appreciation for the vascular surgeries that podiatric physicians can be involved in expanded after this experience. Ultimately, it was more satisfying to see how thankful the patient was for the care he had received over the years. So while this moment was a reminder for me to take a step back and carefully assess a patients history more in-depth, it was also a heartwarming outlook into the aftermath and workings of what meaningful patient care can entail


by Cindy Duong. 

School: Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine

Clinical Experience: Early Learning Curve

Student, Lifestyle, Clinical experience

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