Diksha: Making an impact

What extracurricular activities have you been involved with during your time in school How has it made an impact on your life and in the community?

I was astonished as I scrolled through the YouTube results that came up when I searched for podiatric medicine. Although podiatric medicine was an established field, the latest videos posted at the time that I applied to podiatric medical schools were advertisements for specific offices or were outdated. However, when I searched for other health professions, at least 20 videos would appear from students in those respective fields, genuinely discussing their perspectives. Even though I was merely applying to podiatry programs, I already knew I wanted to change that aspect when I matriculated, because there was not enough information online that shed light on what the field was about. 

When I began podiatric medical school, a classmate and I together created ThePodiatryJourney on Youtube, Instagram, and other social media which soon became my passion project. Knowing that I wanted to help pre-medical students with the information that I was not exposed to when I was interested in this alternative path to becoming a physician, I would spend my free time learning how to properly capture an audience through social media. I researched how osteopathic and physician assistant students would educate viewers about their differences and similarities with allopathic students. I explored the various avenues I have to get a message across and the tools I need to do so. It has been challenging because if I am out with family or friends, I am always contemplating my next idea for a post or video. On the other hand, I would not have it any other way, even when I do not see the results immediately. 

Although I have to take the initiative to reach out myself, I thoroughly enjoy informing the healthcare professionals outside of podiatry and eliminating misconceptions, as well. In fact, we receive multiple messages a day with questions about how to apply and other details. When those same students send us messages of gratitude, we know that the time we spend on every post is worth the reward.

Although it is usually a gratifying experience, it has humbled me in many ways, as well. I have learned not to take it personally when a student does not desire our help, when organizations we expect to be as passionate about our mission do not see the potential the way we do, or when our views on our videos remain stagnant. Strangely enough, the rejections have helped me grow into a mentally stronger individual during the clinic as well. Whenever I am not immediately able to answer a physician’s question or cannot immediately think of an answer, I do not lose my morale. I am able to frame the situation in a different light, viewing it as a learning opportunity to further add to my repertoire as a future podiatric physician. 

As I go forward through school and residency, I will continue to do my best to help pre-medical students consider podiatry and educate the public, despite the challenges that present themselves. Similar to treating my patients-effectively reaching out through social media, presentations, and articles take constant fine-tuning and perseverance (both of which I am more than willing to do in order to advance our profession). 

Diksha Mohapatra

California School of Podiatric Medicine, Class of 2022