Artisans: Dock Dockery DPM

Artisans: G. Dock Dockery DPM

Interview by Roberto De Los Santos

Born: 1946
Residence: Seattle, Washington
Education: Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine
Known as: Founder of the International Foot & Ankle Foundation for Education and Research.

Textbooks by the author including:

  • Color Atlas and Text of Forefoot Surgery (Mosby 1992)
  • Cutaneous Disorders of the Lower Extremity (WB Saunders 1997)
  • Color Atlas of Foot & Ankle Dermatology (Lippincott 1999)
  • Lower Extremity Soft Tissue & Cutaneous Plastic Surgery (Elsevier 2006)
  • Lower Extremity Soft Tissue & Cutaneous Plastic Surgery, 2nd Edition, (Elsevier 2012).

 

I. Introduction

Dr. Gary Lee Dockery, known as “Dock” to all of his friends and family, was born in the year 1946 in Rawlins, Wyoming. He grew up in Drumright, Oklahoma, where he attended Drumright High School, from 1960-1964. He was very active at a young age and was involved in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) in high school and played baseball and ran track. While growing up, he would wear his favorite pair of shoes of Tony Lamas Western Boots that were given to him from his uncle in Texas. He went on to become a medic in the United States Air Force, from 1964-1968, later attending Eastern Washington University from 1968-1972. He was accepted into the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine (now Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine) from 1972-1976 and then completed his surgical training at Waldo Podiatric Surgical Residency in Seattle, Washington, from 1976-1977.

3. Drumriht HS 1964
Drumright High School

His favorite color is General Blue, he loves to eat anything Italian, enjoys watching the Wizard of Oz, and his favorite song is Because by the Beatles. He travels quite frequently either in the U.S or overseas and has been blessed to see much of the world. His favorite place that he has visited while traveling has been Tuscany, Italy. As much of a busy man as he can be, he still keeps one important tradition: to be at his own home on Christmas Day with his wife Dr. Mary Crawford and his son Eric D. Dockery and his family.

“I will travel any other day of the year, but on Christmas Day I am at my house, that is a tradition that I intend to keep…”

-Dock Dockery

Dr. Dockery has been described as a professional, hardworking, devoted podiatrist who brings joy in education to his peers and residents alike. He is the founder and chairman of the International Foot & Ankle Foundation for Education and Research. In addition, he is the Editor-in-Chief: Foot and Ankle Online Journal (FAOJ.org). Furthermore, he has authored more than 150+ scientific writings that include books, scientific articles, and other research publications. He has become a national and international guest speaker, being invited to scientific seminars to speak on podiatric medicine and surgery. He lives by his motto “Learn as if you may live forever, live as if you may die tomorrow” – Gandhi. Dr. Dock Dockery is an extraordinary man of many talents and has devoted a lifelong servitude to podiatry.

This is his story.

2. Dock 1964
Class Photo 1964

II. The Year Was 1967 

I was given the privilege to have a phone interview with Dock Dockery. He had just recently retired and has been living his best life doing what he loves: traveling and enjoying wine at home. What interested me the most about him was his dedication to podiatry and constantly challenging himself to improve our profession. I had so many questions to ask but the one that I was most eager to ask him was,

“Why did you choose podiatry?”,  he went on to reply,

“It’s kind of a long story, it all started in 1967 when I was in the military. At the time, I was a medic in the U.S. Air Force where I was stationed in Ubon, Thailand, and flying aeromedivac trips into Vietnam. Military medics act like nurses; they start IV’s, assist the wounded, and do whatever the doctors ask for. I had 2 years of medical background by then. At one point, I had made sergeant and I thought, ‘I love the military,’ and considered staying in it for the long run. However, while on one of my trips going to Japan, I met a podiatrist who was doing surgery and treating wounded Vietnam soldiers. There were very few podiatrists in the military and even fewer who were officers; I was impressed.

4. Dock Ubon June 67jpg
US Air Force medical corps (1964-68), stationed in Ubon, Thailand, 1966-1967

When I came back to the U.S. I was still in the service and I was restationed in Washington State, at Fairchild Air Force Base. There I decided to contact a local podiatrist in Spokane, Dr. Heber Routh. He asked me to come to visit his office; he had a bunch of patients waiting. He gave me a white coat and introduced me as a medical student (even though I was still in the military). I was fascinated by his bedside manners and the way he treated his patients. He was very impressive; he was the only podiatrist out of 10 in town who had surgical privileges.

One day he asked me, ‘I have surgery in a couple of days, do you want to come?’

Of course, I said, ‘Yes’.”

 

II. First Elective Surgery

“This was a small private 12-bed hospital, in Spokane, called the Paulsen Hospital, and while walking on our way there, it seemed like everybody in the street knew him. He would say ‘Hi’ to everybody in town it seemed like. The hospital staff knew him, as well as anesthesia, and the other doctors. It was very impressive. My very first elective surgery that I got to see with him was a simple bunionectomy. Right after that, he asked me to come to his office on Saturdays to just help. I did it for a long time; every Saturday morning I would help with removing sutures, adding a cast, etc. Seeing him work and letting me assist solidified my thought to pursue podiatry.

Dr. Routh was highly active, he was on the board of trustees of the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine. He encouraged me to apply, and he said, ‘If you get out of the service, and go to college… I will help go to podiatry school’.  So, I got my GED in the military service, then got out, did 4 years of college, graduated from Eastern Washington University with my bachelor’s degree in Biology.”

After spending much of his time in the service and graduating from Eastern Washington University, the young Mr. Dockery was determined to attend podiatry medical school. He had his eyes set with one goal in mind: becoming a podiatrist.

“I reached out again to Dr. Routh, and he helped me by writing a letter of recommendation, and he reached out to his contacts in the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine. Podiatry was still very young, at the time there were 5 schools.  I only applied to [the Ohio] school and did not even think about applying to those other schools.”

He was so focused on that one school that he did not even consider having a backup, or a plan B.

I did not even think about, ‘what if I never got accepted?’ It was a big gamble.”

 

III. The Phone Call

Interviews in the 1970s were a little different from how they are today. After attaining all of his letters of recommendations, undergraduate college diploma, and submitting his application, the young Dock Dockery had to wait to be invited for a sit-down personal interview. There were no fast-electronic messaging or emails at the time. Everything was by the post office mail, taking days or weeks to hear back.

It was a shock to me!

It was a big deal, I just got accepted to podiatry school!

“Interviews for podiatry school were a little different at the time. Once you submitted your filled-out application in the mail and got the preliminary acceptance, then you had to travel to Cleveland, Ohio, to have a 1-on-1 interview with a faculty member. That was not the case for me.

What really happened to me, is that I was in Spokane, Washington, and the doctor who called me was on the faculty from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine. He introduces himself and stated that ‘[in this phone call] we are going to do a preliminary interview’. I spent 45 minutes on the phone and back then there was no mobile phone, it was on the landline. You did not know when they were going to call, I just so happened to be at the house at that exact moment.

He asked me basic interview podiatry questions, and if I had applied to other programs like dentistry or optometry. I told him about meeting a podiatrist while I was in South East Asia, and then shadowing one in the U.S. After 2-3 basic questions, he then asked a few social questions: what is your favorite color? What makes you angry? During this time, I was thinking to myself, ‘He is going to ask me hard questions, some biology questions maybe.’

In the end, he said of the phone call, to my surprise he says, ‘I got your application, I read your letter, I talked to Dr. Routh, and I am going to recommend your acceptance to the program.’

It was a shock to me!  

It was a big deal, I just got accepted to podiatry school!”

In a little over 1 week after talking on the phone, and getting accepted, he packed his bags and moved to start podiatry school in Ohio. There he discovered his favorite class to be Podiatric Surgery taught by Dr. Raymond Suppan, who later became a mentor for years to come and who encouraged him to publish research.

“I spent a lot of time with him during the last two years of Podiatry School and went to his office at the ‘Suppan Foot Clinic’ and to the local hospital in Orrville, Ohio. He taught me a lot about surgery and his professional bedside manners with patients.”

5. Dock 1976
Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine 1976

IV. The First Years of Practice

Dr. Dockery graduated from podiatry school and returned to Seattle, Washington, to start his residency at Waldo Podiatric Surgical Residency, from 1976-1977.  After graduating, he stayed in the area to open his own private practice. He was still heavily involved with the residency program and worked as an assistant residency director, and then later became the head residency director.

“I have a funny story to tell about when I first started out in my private practice at the Doctors Podiatry Clinic. It was slow at first and one of my secretaries kept getting phone calls from parents asking for shots for their children before school started. I was confused at first as to why they would call us for shots.

Well, the next day, the front office had finally figured out what was going on, my secretary says, ‘We have another call from a parent asking for back to school shots. They thought we were a pediatric clinic.’ So, I hired a sign-guy and changed my name to the Seattle Foot & Ankle Clinic. After that, we had so many new consults.”

For recently graduated Dr. Dockery, things were slow at the beginning, as it is with any new small business, but the name change to highlight that the clinic focused on the foot and ankle was a big game-changer for the practice, and it helped him to not get confused with other medical specialties. Dr. Dockery treated patients of all ages, but he was able to gain more pediatric patients by speaking at a local elementary school, to the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA).

“So, I started doing pediatric surgery once I started visiting a nearby elementary school. One day I went over and talked to the teachers and parents about calf pain, growing pains, and heel pain. After that, I started getting referrals, started building a practice on how to reconstruct surgically a painful pediatric flat foot. I became known as the ‘guy to send kids’ to.

Eventually, I started doing 6-8 flatfoot surgery cases monthly. I would have the residents come and talk to the patient 1-2 months before the surgery, look at the x rays, and do a clinical workup. The following month I would do the surgery case and the resident with me could see the entire process of pre-op, surgery, and post-op.”

7. Dock 1988Booking surgery for a patient has changed dramatically just in the past 30 years. In the early ’60s and ’70s patients would have to be admitted into the hospital the night before, and then after surgery, stay a few days afterward to obtain pain control whenever a patient agreed to have a bunion or hammertoe repair. This is a big change compared to today’s surgical process: come-in, have your surgery and leave for home on the same day. Dr. Dockery remembers when the pre- and post-surgical process changed while he was in practice.

“After two full days of just doing surgery every week, now I had more to offer to the residency program; I would bring in more cases, I would teach surgery, and the residents would learn the whole process. Again, this was in the old days, back then patients going to surgery would be admitted the night before. At this time, the resident and externs, would do a history and physical exam, get x rays, and do a hands-on workup before the surgery. Most of these patients after surgery would then stay 2-4 days afterward.

I saw this as a big learning experience for the residents because they would be able to see the pre- and post-surgical results. It is sort of sad for me when this system changed, patients would show up in the morning, and go home that same day. I felt like the residents did not really get a chance to fully learn, all they saw was the procedure itself – it’s kind of sad.”

 

After being an assistant director of the residency program for two years, Dr. Dockery was then appointed to be the head director. He was determined to help grow the program into one that he had always envisioned.

 

“I became an assistant residency director because I still wanted to be involved. After a couple of years of private practice, I took over the residency program, I was incredibly determined to change it into more what I envisioned it to be a…

 ‘Giving Back and Teaching’ residency program.

For the next 8 years, I was the director of the residency, my philosophy never changed: I have continuously lectured and worked with residents. I insisted that everybody would talk and socialize externs. I would promote teaching by making the second-year residents teach the first-year residents. Then I would have the first-year residents teach the incoming students. I just emphasized how important it was to teach, even when you were a student. They bought into that concept of ‘Giving Back and Teaching.’”

 

 V. IFAF est 1979

The International Foot and Ankle Foundation (IFAF) has been a large-scale nonprofit organization that encompasses “the highest level of continuing medical education programs” with its emphasis on surgery, medicine, and research.”

When asked about IFAF, Dr. Dock Dockery had this to say,

IFAF_Logo_final

“When our foundation first started in 1977-1979, we had very little money to help support the residents. The nicest thing we could do [for them] is buy pizzas. I wanted to get more money to help support our residents, by inviting doctors to give lectures and then charging local podiatrists to hear those speakers. The Seattle resident’s yearly salary in 1979 was $5,000 a year. I wanted to help them, help create classes, and create meetings to raise money.

After doing local meetings for a while I decided to do something more official.  I went to the Washington State Podiatric Medical Association’s attorney and he said to me, ‘why don’t you create a nonprofit institute or foundation.’ So, in 1979 I established the International Foot and Ankle Foundation (IFAF). By 1981 I had set up organization meetings in Seattle and Hawaii. I did not pay any of the speakers; everyone paid their own way and people really wanted to go to nice places and have a good educational program. I broke the meetings up into lectures in the morning and time off in the afternoon. People thought I was crazy and that it would not work because I WAS NOT paying any speaker to come lecture, they all had to volunteer to be guest speakers. So, I focused on having meetings in nice places that people would enjoy going to and after doing it for 41 years, the program has been very successful and I still don’t pay guest speakers, it’s been a win-win situation.

In the end, when I give it up or die, I know that the program will keep going. I have so many like-minded friends and colleagues who want to help this organization grow and have big goals just like me. I never want to be the store that closes, I want others to be involved, and still, support this foundation for many years to come.”

 

The IFAF non-profit organization has grown exponentially in the past few years. In fact, the IFAF helps support the Swedish Podiatric Surgical Residency, Franciscan Foot and Ankle Institute Podiatric Surgical Residency, Foot and Ankle Online Journal, and the Seattle Lower Extremity Surgical Symposium. The foundation also provides sponsorship of charitable events such as Barry University’s Yucatan Crippled Children Project, North Colorado Podiatric Surgical Residency, and the Gerald Kuwada DPM Memorial Leadership Fund.

VI. Research & Literature

Besides his business and non-profit achievements, Dr. Dockery is a man of research and literature. He is the Editor-in-Chief: Foot and Ankle Online Journal (FAOJ.org). Furthermore, he has authored more than 150+ scientific writings that include books, scientific articles, and other research publications. He has become a national and international guest speaker. The following is a complete list of books published by Dr. Dock Dockery, an American author of Podiatric Medicine:

The Books

  • Clinics in Podiatric Medicine and Surgery: Dermatology of the Lower extremities (1986)
  • Color Atlas and Text of Forefoot Surgery (Mosby 1992)
  • Cutaneous Disorders of the Lower Extremity (WB Saunders 1997)
  • Color Atlas of Foot & Ankle Dermatology (Lippincott 1999)
  • Lower Extremity Soft Tissue & Cutaneous Plastic Surgery (Elsevier 2006)
  • Lower Extremity Soft Tissue & Cutaneous Plastic Surgery, 2nd Edition, (Elsevier 2012).


VII. Thoughts on the Future of Podiatry? 

In the past 10 years alone, our world has seen a rapid growth in applied science that has significantly helped the field of medicine. We have been able to see new gadgets, new techniques, and new ideologies when it comes to the treatment of pathology for the foot and ankle. I asked Dr. Dockery, “What has been the biggest change you have seen in podiatry while in your years of practice?”

He had this to say,

 

“Technology.

When I first went into practice, no patients had insurance – patients were paying in cash. Over the years, everything changed: communication, social medicine, and the speed that information could be shared. Everything has changed to a handheld smartphone system.

In my days, if I wanted to look up research articles, I had to drive to the university library, pay to park, then look up an article, then pay to print the article. Now when I ask residents, ‘Have you read this article’ they would reply with, ‘no but I have it here on my phone.’ I believe technology has changed things tremendously.”

11. National & International Lecturer
National and International Lecturer

With the next younger generation of future doctors emerging, more and more apps, tools, and internet accessibility will arise to help grow and push the boundaries of podiatric medicine. When asked, “How do you see podiatry grow in the future?” Dr. Dockery had the following to say,

 

“Something that I have seen, and is going to accelerate for many years, is that previously when I asked residents,

 ‘What they would be doing after they graduate?’

Back then everybody wanted to go to private practice.

Now, it is very rare for me to talk to a resident who wants to go into private practice, most want to join a multispecialty group, supergroups, or be hospital-based. That integration of general groups or hospital groups is the way of the future. It is obvious right now that the local podiatry practice composed of 1-2 doctors is dying (but not dead yet).

I believe the reason is that residents are NOT taught how to be good businesspeople; in other words, they are not taught how to have enough good bookkeeping skills, learning about insurance, or practice management. It is hard trying to do all that while in residency.  Instead, if you can join a group that has a billing office that is dedicated to insurance and patient billing, then you can focus on the medical aspect.”

 

VIII. The Next Chapter

Dr. Dockery has now officially retired from clinical practice, he spends a lot of the time relaxing at home enjoying wine, cigars, and inviting friends over. He is still heavily involved with the IFAF nonprofit organization and continues to travel as an invited ‘guest speaker’ for podiatry conferences. In his spare time, he enjoys making art with acrylic paint or charcoal pencils. During football season he likes to cheer on his favorite Seahawks team.

8. Dock & Mary Costa Rica 2005
Married to Dr. Mary E. Crawford, 1993-present

Now that he is no longer in private practice and things are beginning to wind down, I asked him, “What was your daily schedule like now that you have retired?” He replied,

“Well, prior to the pandemic changes, I spent Monday through Wednesday working on the International Foot & Ankle Foundation business. That involves scheduling 10-12 scientific meetings each year and reviewing contracts with hotels, meeting sites, cruise lines, and hospitals. For each meeting, I contacted and invited the faculty speakers and moderators and created the actual schedule for the entire meeting.

Then, two to three weeks each month I was traveling from Thursday to Sunday to run workshops, attend other meetings as a speaker or, occasionally as an attendee. I was traveling 35-40 weeks per year. Now, many of the meetings have been canceled or are given virtually.  I hope to return to a similar schedule when this has all settled.”

 

Paris

Retirement has NOT slowed down the great Dock Dockery, he truly loves teaching and he continues to be devoted to the field of podiatry. When asked, “What has been your biggest accomplishment?” Dr. Dockery had the following response,

“When it comes to my accomplishments, I think it’s all the same thing, having a sort of passion for podiatry. I have integrated this level of passion on my writing, teaching, and lecturing. There are a lot of people who have passed that torch on, now it is my turn to pass it on to the students that come after me.

One of the biggest accomplishments that I personally have is the International Foot and Ankle Foundation (IFAF) for Education and Research. I have run the foundation for 41 years, and I am still continually active with it. We put on educational programs, about twelve meetings a year for the past 41 years. We have had conferences all over the world: in Seattle, Hawaii, Australia, Asia, Europe, and on cruise ships, etc. I have learned very quickly that many podiatrists would rather have meetings on a cruise ship than at an airport hotel. It is better to go to a nice city or resort because now you can have scientific lectures, see some beautiful sites, and bring the family with you. Many doctors spend their professional life going to local conferences and then they struggle to find time to spend with their family. My biggest thought was

‘What if we can combine that, that way everyone wins.’ 

In the end, our program raises money, the doctor wins because they get CME, and the family wins because they get a vacation.

I run the meetings, plan locations, do contracts, invite the speakers, set up the lecture program, and help with the paperwork. Initially, our board consisted of 4 people, we were small. Now I have a lot of people involved: our board of directors has grown to 8, we have a director of marketing, graphic designer, website developer, and 10 medical advisors. I am very proud of it.”

Spain

In addition to his non-profit organization’s humbling beginning, Dr. Dockery is very proud of his research publications, and his partnerships with the Yucatan Crippled Children Project.

 

“Two other things also come to mind when I think about accomplishments:

One is the fact that I have promoted a particular treatment for painful nerve problems using a dilute ethanol alcohol solution for injection. This is a modified version of a treatment originally discussed by Dr. Marvin Steinberg in the late 1960-70s. I simply modified the percentage of alcohol from a 2% to a 4% dilute solution of ethyl alcohol and then described the ideal technique for injecting nerve problems. I wrote several articles over the years outlining these techniques and the results.

The other accomplishment that I am proud of is the partnership with the doctors from IFAF and the doctors from Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine and the Yucatan Crippled Children Project. I have been leading a team of surgeons and residents from Seattle, to join the Miami Team, since 1998. We travel to Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, four times a year, and perform medical and surgical treatments for indigent Mayan children with significant lower extremity deformities. This has been one of the highlights in my career and I love working with residents and teaching them some of the fine details of pediatric lower extremity surgery and it is also wonderful to feel like you are really making a difference in some young child’s life.”

 

IX. Advice to the Next Generation

Q: What advice would you give to a student?

“The old guys like to give advice.

Most things have not changed much, except technology, as I mentioned. Technology has changed a lot; we went from having landlines to a computer in your pocket. This has made a big difference in our private practice and personal life. Back then, we had to pull over, find a payphone, and call the hospital.

However, there are some things that never change.

For example, I really believe, you need to be involved in your profession. In your city that you live in, meet with the other doctors, meet with your peers, get involved at the state level, or the national level. You do not need to be president but everybody who is involved has the ability to impact the profession. In addition, I believe that everyone who is in school, residency, and practice should aspire to be a mentor to a junior resident or a young fellow. There are people out there that you can be a mentor for. You can teach bedside manners to residents, help the profession by going to meetings, being vocal, and overall being a good role model.”

 

Q: What advice would you give to a young doctor that just graduated?

“Be a mentor, teach, and maybe be involved in a local residency program. We need young graduates to be on the faculty on the residency programs to help direct the residents well. In addition, I would recommend publishing and doing more research. Take the stuff you learned, research, and publish. I can say that publishing has changed dramatically over the years. Back then, to submit an article, it was a big deal because the acceptance rate was very low. Now, there are multiple journals for you to publish in; there are online journals, so now it’s much easier. There is no excuse now, there is a lot of opportunities.

When you write a paper, I think YOU learn more than the people that are going to read it; this is because you need to look up facts, look up articles, and this includes things you wouldn’t normally read. Same thing when you give a lecture: preparing a lecture really makes you look back at what you have written, what you have heard, and what is factual.

In the long run, I just think, the worst thing you can do is go to work and go home, and don’t do anything else.

Work and go home.

Work and go home.

You help grow your own profession when you get involved. That is something that I have promoted since the 1970s.”

 

Q: Is there a favorite quote that you live by?

Live as you may die tomorrow. Learn as you may live forever.

-Gandhi

“It kind of fits with my philosophy of keep learning but still enjoy life, go see stuff before you die. That is my motto. Funny story, I saw this written in Latin on a building in Florence, Italy, so I took a picture not knowing what it was at the time: disce quasi semper victurus, vive quasi cras moriturus. When I researched it later, I saw that it was the same Gandhi quote that I always loved. I was like, ‘Oh my God’, so now I add it to the end of my signature.”

 

*****

Dr. Dock Dockery has done a lot in the field of podiatric medicine. He has helped push our profession forward helping promote Podiatry both at a local and national level. His ability to connect with patients, students, residents, and doctors in a caring and intellectual manner is what sets him apart and has helped him gain long-lasting friendships with many podiatrists. He is a world-class doctor, a loving father, an amazing mentor, and a caring educator. He is a man with multiple gifts and an extraordinary work ethic that has helped expand the field of Podiatric Medicine.

13..Dock 2020
Director and Chairman of the Board, International Foot & Ankle Foundation for Education and Research

Interviewed by Roberto De Los Santos on June 7, 2020.

Images donated by Dr. Dock Dockery.

Published on June 31, 2020.

 

 

 

9. Dock Wine 2002
Lover of Great Wine
1. my home
My home in Drumright, Oklahoma
Dock-Mary England
England
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Blue Lagoon, Iceland

 

 

Dock-Mary Italy
Poggio Antico, Italy
10. Enjoy hand made cigars and my dog
Cigars, martinites, and my rescue dog.