Today’s Pod Women: Dr. Cuffy

Dr. Sharon Cuffy is a podiatrist who attended Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine and later on went to complete her surgical residency at Kendall Regional Medical Center. Dr. Cuffy no practices at the South Florida Wound Care Group.

Q1. What led you to a career in Podiatric Medicine?

Was it your initial goal or did you discover it along your journey through life? I have always wanted to be a foot doctor. I have known it was my calling since the age of five when my grandmother had one of her legs amputated. I always knew I wanted to help people like her, and give them the hope to possibly prevent limb loss and subsequent mortality.

Q2. Do you have a specific subspecialty in Podiatry?

I do not have any specific podiatric subspecialties, but I am interested in wound care and aesthetics.

Q3. What other hats do you wear in the Podiatric medical field?

I don’t wear any other hats in the Podiatric medical field. I do think it’s important to get your feet wet and pursue whatever interests you in the world. I chose to pursue bodybuilding and become a professional make-up artist. Sometimes we tend to box ourselves in, but you may find things outside of medicine that you may be great at as well. So, embrace all aspects of yourself!

Q4. How is your practice structured? 

We see absolutely everything.

I have what would be considered a general podiatric medical clinic. We see absolutely everything. I essentially do not turn anything away because I enjoy the challenge and the variety of care I give. I see one patient at a time addressing their medical needs. I see potential surgical candidates for their preoperative visit and give a detailed account of what would be expected pre-surgery and post-surgery.

Q5. Do you feel as though you have a better work-life balance as a female podiatrist versus other fields of medicine? If yes, Why?

I feel like work-life balance is a subjective thing. Podiatric medicine is a field that you can essentially make it what you want. If placed in the correct circumstance, you can work as much or as little as you wish.

Q6. What does a typical week look like for you (include personal life, social life, and career)?

I believe life is about balance.

On a given day, I work in my private office seeing patients. This is followed up by rounding on inpatients at two hospitals. Once a week, typical on Wednesdays, I also see patients in the wound care center. 1-3 days a week, I attend one of my son’s lacrosse or football games depending on which season we are in. Meal prepping on the weekends is key to helping me make it through the week. Sometimes my family doesn’t get home until 9pm. That’s definitely not the time of day you want to be figuring out what’s for dinner.

Q7. As a female Podiatric medical doctor, have there been any barriers that you had to overcome to be where you are today?

Ohhhhhh where do I start?

I think that although being female in the working world has come a long way, it still has so much further to go. Being a female podiatric physician has come with many barriers that my male counterparts have not encountered. I thought that when I got my degree that I would not have to fight and pull to prove myself as an equal. Little did I know that I would be experiencing my share of barriers still to this day.

I have been called “nurse” on numerous occasions by other doctors, just because I am a female in medicine. There is nothing wrong with being a nurse. I appreciate and respect the profession, but I went to podiatric medical school and earned my degree to practice as a doctor. As a female in medicine, you must be sure and assertive, but not too much. If you try to be “tough” as a male, then you are said to be angry, aggressive, or worse. Finding a happy medium has not been easy. The beauty of these challenges is that is not what defines me as a person, but what pushes me to just be better.

Q8. Are you married, have children or both (You can elaborate on your family dynamic.)? If so, how do you balance your family and career?

I am married to my supportive, hardworking, and handsome husband, Dr. Cherison Cuffy. He is an assistant professor and podiatric physician. We have one child, Sanaan, who is a 16-year-old junior in high school. He is an athlete. We never miss our son’s games or activities. So that means many times we are rocking the blue scrubs to the games so that we can then go back to the hospital and finish rounding.

My husband and I are a dynamic duo. We do what we need to do to get things done in our household and in our practice. We don’t follow the conventional standards of a man or woman’s role. If a task needs to be done, (i.e. laundry, dishes, mopping) one of us just does it. Having a supportive spouse helps a lot.

Woman's 2020 - Hallux MagQ9. Do you schedule personal time? If you do, how vital is it to your overall well-being and success?

I do schedule personal time. I think my time and family time is key to my overall well-being and success. I think a balanced personal life is vital to physical and mental health. These factors affect the way a person practices medicine.

Q10. Is there an ideal time to get married and start a family, as a female physician?

I don’t think it’s ever a good time to have children or get married. There will always be pros and cons no matter the time frame. Regardless of when, it just needs to be thought out and planned accordingly.

Q11. What financial advice can you give to a young podiatrist as they transition into his/her career?

In particular, if you have student loan debt, try to live as modest as possible. Don’t take on unnecessary debt. This requires a lot of sacrifice and discipline in particular when you first start practicing. Financial discipline is the key to success in the future.

Q12. What advice would you give a current aspiring female podiatric physician?

we must be better than good and always prepared to work harder…

Be a trailblazer! Too often we are deemed less than our male counterparts. Although you may have not asked for it, we must be better than good and always prepared to work harder. Do not believe that anything will be given to you. We must make our opportunities happen.

Interview by Marika Jackson

School: Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine