the residents: Dr. Cohen

Resident: Dr. Donald (Donny) Cohen

Year: PGY 2

1) What residency program are you at, and what year are you?

Second Year at a hospital in the Northeast.

2) What are your thoughts on completing a fellowship versus going straight into practice after residency graduation?

I think fellowships are great if you want to specialize or further your skills because you are not fully sure how you want to approach your career just yet.

Personally, I know that I would like to proceed with wound care and limb salvage for my future. There are a couple fellowships out there that would enhance my abilities; but, I also feel confident in my skillset on achieving this without a fellowship, as well.

3) What is the best part of residency, in your opinion?

Getting to see the good and the bad.

You develop your skills and techniques from every aspect of training. You get to see the ways you want to approach treatment, and more importantly, the ways you don’t want to approach it.

4) What is your surgical case volume and type in a typical week at your program?

Our surgical to clinic volume is truly 50:50. We have mostly forefoot. Though, as second and third years, we work a lot with orthopedics on rearfoot and ankle.

5) If you had to pick again, would you pick podiatry and your program?

…this field is incredibly rewarding. I feel lucky to be in the position I am in today..

I often joke that if I could go back to 2014, I would stay in research. However, this field is incredibly rewarding. I feel lucky to be in the position I am in today. Would I pick a different program? Is the grass ALWAYS greener? I don’t know much of anything else about other people’s programs, but I am confident that I am gaining the knowledge and skill to be successful at this program. I wouldn’t change it, no.

6) What advice do you have for a (4th year) podiatry student?

Have fun, 100%.

Don’t make your only focus on filling your CV. Be a normal person. Live your life. Do whatever you can to maintain a normal lifestyle with being a good student. Even if you aren’t a 4.0 student, a program will like that you are well-rounded and able to be liked. You are with these people for 3, sometimes 4 years depending on your program type and length. They want to know that you will fit into their podiatry family. Just enjoy yourself and be your comfortable normal. Also, don’t pretend to be something you’re not. It will be exhausting to keep pretending. Furthermore, if a program doesn’t like you for you, then is that really a program you want to be at? I don’t think so.

7) What is your favorite surgery?

If I had to pick, it is limb salvage. “Dirty cases” are often labeled as the ugly child for first year residents. I love them. Removing prominences and cleaning up wounds is like arts and crafts time. It is ultimately satisfying when you are able to heal out that patient because you did everything right to help them.

8) What has been your favorite outside rotation?

I loved my general/vascular surgery and emergency department rotations. I love fast-paced, life saving medicine. I enjoyed learning a lot of my hand skills by performing anything from laparoscopic cholecystectomies to double mastectomies with implantations. Our surgery group at the hospital is extremely receptive to allowing us to be hands-on and to teach us even though we are often considered “just podiatry” by other off-service rotations.

9) What do you see for your future practice setting/case type? Has this changed since you were a student?

Podiatry clinic, wound care and limb salvage. Maybe light forefoot work and a triple here and there. This hasn’t changed at all, except for the triple. Like it or not – and this may make me relatively unpopular among many other peers and physicians – nails are our bread and butter. The surgery is the caviar. I will do podiatry first and foremost, and will be 100% completely satisfied with my lifelong career.

10) Everyone is constantly learning, and new information is more available now than ever before. When you’re finding that things you’ve done or learned in the past are not correct, how do you respond to this? 

Be open and receptive to new, different and sometimes unusual ways to go about treating people.

Medicine would be easily practiced if every patient was a textbook; anybody could do it. We have school and textbook knowledge. It’s the foundation of everything. But, how you build your house is going to be determined by your patient. EVERY patient is different. So, your perfectly thought up dream home now has an annex, addition, popped-top, west wing, and every other adaptation you can possibly do, because there is no real ‘textbook’ patient. Take it as it comes. Be open and receptive to new, different and sometimes unusual ways to go about treating people. Sometimes your way is not the best way. But, it is imperative you soak it all up like the sponges they want us to be and learn from it.

The Residents - Special EditionInterview by : Elizabeth Ansert, St. Vincent Hospital


the residents

Special Edition

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