Why podiatry? What advice would you give an undergraduate student interested in this profession?
The very first steps we take in life bring happiness to those around us. Before achieving those memorable first steps, we need a round of guidance. Whether we have the edges of a coffee table to hold onto or parents who pick us upright when we fall, we still stumble back down. It takes practice to master the art of walking that slips through our consciousness. Even then, our biomechanics may be off.
Soon, these biomechanics would become the foundation for my basketball footwork. Basketball requires careful footwork to avoid injury not only in the foot and ankle but an indirect injury to the knees and back.
I laced up my high top basketball shoes for a normal 7 a.m. practice and pulled the laces really tight to keep my ankles snug. I stretched just like any other day to warm up my body but it didn’t stand a chance for what was to come. I stepped on the court and went up for a mere layup but somehow managed to land on an inverted ankle. As soon as my doctor mentioned I would not be able to play for at least a month, my face went pale. Thoughts swarmed my head that I had taken for granted every single day that my feet held me up strong and ready to play.
Due to my injury, I was sidelined for a month and a half. Throughout this experience, I realized I didn’t necessarily need to be on the court to make a difference. I could channel my positivity to my teammates from the sidelines just as much as I could on the court. Shortly after my return, another teammate was injured. She was not only physically hurt but emotionally as well. We had daily conversations about the effects of positivity and a support system in any recovery process. Although my basketball career has come to an end, the lessons from those days live within me. I am lucky to become a future podiatrist that will help patients not only in sports but in other medical aspects as well.
Thereupon, I knew I had to enter the medical field in some way. A part of me had not let go of my past with sports but I also wanted to make an impact for those with other health concerns. In June of 2018, I entered the office of Dr. Alan Singer at the University Podiatry Group in the University of California Los Angeles medical plaza as a mere shadowing student. At the end of the day, I had found the hidden gem in the medical field that dealt with all the areas I longed to be a part of. I had the privilege of being one of the University Podiatry Group’s newest employees. and looked forward to continuing learning new things not only about the foot and ankle alone but also how feet may be an indication of overall health. My happiest moments were the bonds I created with some of the patients. My heart aches for the weak, and immobile patients but grows stronger at the thought that I have the opportunity to be a podiatric provider for these patients.
This was my journey to the Podiatric field. I do not think any of this would be possible without my mentor, Dr. Singer. He allowed me to see the true field of podiatry. My advice to undergraduate students is to not allow stereotypes of this field to cloud their judgment. Go shadow a podiatrist and see the field for yourself before you make a decision.
Podiatric medicine is a field that engulfs different realms of medicine and as a podiatric physician, you are a specialist in the field from day one. It is an invigorating field that is intellectually challenging and is continuously on the rise. In my eyes, the overall health of a patient stems from the feet up just like our very first steps in life.
Western University College of Podiatric Medicine, Class of 2023