Marika Jackson: Why Podiatry?

Why podiatry? What advice would you give an undergraduate student interested in this profession? 

Podiatry is such a wonderful field of medicine. It has been one of the best moves that I made when I decided to change careers over 3 years ago.

It started as an unwavering desire to pursue a career in medicine, but I suppressed it for years. It takes just one experience and one opportunity to bring life to something that seems dead. Podiatry has done this for me. I always knew that I wanted to focus on educating and treating patients with diabetes. My mother and a few of my uncles were diagnosed with diabetes. My husband’s uncle unexpectedly died from complications with diabetic-caused gangrene in his foot. Shadowing a podiatrist before applying to school was an eye-opening experience. Each week it became apparent to me that podiatry had what I was seeking in a medical career. Prior to starting podiatric medical school, I witnessed countless diabetic routine foot care appointments in which patients relied heavily on the Podiatrist and his team to care for their foot health. It became noteworthy that foot health translates essentially to whole-body health. I gained awareness and respect for the function and importance the foot plays in a patient’s daily life. Seeing patients in pain with compromised mobility conjured compassion within me. I recalled saying to myself, “podiatry will allow me to educate patients on managing diabetes and associated problems like neuropathy, Charcot foot, ulcers, and more.” Now as a fourth-year podiatry student, I cannot see myself doing anything else in medicine. During my clinical rotations, I have seen firsthand that my diabetic patients rely on Podiatric services and education to maintain adequate foot health.  

Now as a fourth-year podiatry student, I cannot see myself doing anything else in medicine.

Podiatry is a niche in medicine that has so much diversity that it is not mundane. It is the one field in medicine that is isolated to one definitive anatomical area but encompasses a wide variety of medical genres. Anyone who is interested in a field of medicine that allows them to have a clinical practice, as well as a surgical career, should consider Podiatry. Undergraduate students who are interested in podiatric medicine should shadow a few local podiatrists to see a clinical view of what we treat. Students should know that podiatric medical school is a four-year journey with three years of surgical residency.

My advice to any undergraduate student is to first, do our research about what podiatry has to offer then find a mentor who can help you along the journey. It is also beneficial to have a support system. Above all else, make sure you are passionate about medicine, especially the lower extremity. This is a long journey, but it is rewarding. 

Marika Jackson

Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine, Class of 2021