Why podiatry? What advice would you give an undergraduate student interested in this profession?
The reason I chose podiatry is my history of foot surgeries. I have had five foot surgeries, each one being on my right foot. Growing up, I had severe flat feet, and this hindered my ability to enjoy sports. I always would have swollen and painful feet at the end of the day after just running a few hours. Conservative treatment did not help, even though I had numerous custom orthotics. I decided at the age of 15 that it was only appropriate for me to have reconstructive foot surgery to alleviate my issues. Long story short, the first foot surgery did not turn out well, and I had to have four additional surgeries to correct the problems from the first.
It was through my experience of recovery and battling to get better that I learned not only more about myself, but also the importance of having healthy, functioning feet. I did not want anyone to go through the struggles I went through, so I knew I wanted to go into a field that was tailored around that mindset I had. Thus, I shadowed 2 podiatrists in my local area and fell in love with it. I saw how a podiatrist was able to achieve positive results with conservative treatment in a short period of time. Additionally, being experts of the lower extremity made me happy to know that I can expand the knowledge I gained through my surgeries and further hone in on my skills. It was a win for me, and I do not regret being part of such a great field.
I wanted to go into a field that was tailored around that mindset I had.
One advice I would give undergraduate students is to shadow a podiatrist or multiple podiatrists. Podiatry school is a very specific field with no options of changing what you are specializing in. When you go into a shadowing experience, come in with an open mindset and have a list of questions written down. Students should not be afraid to ask any questions, because these questions will help you determine if this is the right specialty for you or not. You do not want to find yourself in the middle of your 3rd year of medical school realizing this is something you are not fully passionate about. Additionally, I would recommend undergraduate students to attend events and meetings where podiatrists and podiatry students come together just to talk about their experiences and get a sense about what the field entails.
California School of Podiatric Medicine, Class of 2022