Why podiatry? What advice would you give an undergraduate student interested in this profession?
My introduction to the field of podiatry came at eight years old as an unexpected prize for winning a race against my younger sister: I broke my big toe. I found myself in the chair of Dr. Diane Lebedeff, DPM, who bandaged my toe and sent me on my way with candy, and an interest to return to her office. While I was in high school, I discovered a love for biology and sought out opportunities that exposed me to the medical field. I found a part-time job that, at the time, I didn’t realize the impact it would make on my life. In college, I participated in groups and projects that allowed me to develop skills that are necessary to be an effective physician. My part-time job established a love for podiatry and led to a full-time position in the field, allowing me to broaden my knowledge and gain experience. Whether knowingly or not, I have spent my life preparing to be a podiatrist.
Through subsequent and frequent visits due to injuries, Dr. Lebedeff and I developed a relationship over the course of many years. When I was fifteen, I was offered a position as a student work-study in her practice. For a teenager interested in medicine, this was an unparalleled opportunity to experience the field of podiatry. Working for Dr. Lebedeff became a highlight of my high school career—I loved going to work, interacting with patients, and learning about what it takes to be a good doctor. I worked as a part-time employee until I finished my undergraduate degree, at which point I was offered a position as Dr. Lebedeff’s medical assistant. By this point in time I decided to pursue a career in the field I had grown to love, and this was the perfect way to spend my gap year. In her employment, I learned the keys to success in medicine; how to have a good bedside manner, to continually challenge myself to improve, and the importance of showing compassion and respect to every person you encounter.
…I decided to pursue a career in the field I had grown to love, and this was the perfect way to spend my gap year.
I chose to pursue a career in podiatry because I love the variability I can have each day. I can pursue sports medicine, wound care, podopediatrics, dermatology, and of course, surgery. Early on, my time working in a podiatry office taught me that serving older patients is the most fulfilling for me. I found that my interactions with geriatric patients were mutually beneficial; I performed a procedure for this patient and in turn, this patient, whether realizing it or not, offered me wisdom based on their life experience that I happily accepted. I love that as a podiatrist, I will be able to work with patients spanning pediatric to geriatric, and everything in between!
If I could give advice to undergraduate students, it would be above all, to make sure they have a support system for school and beyond. This support system can be different for everyone; sometimes it is found in family members, a spouse or partner, a friend, or even a classmate. I have found that the two individuals I lean on the most are the ones that are down in the trenches of medical school with me: my husband and my best friend/classmate/lab partner. I am blessed to have a husband that will happily make dinner, do dishes, or vacuum if it means that it will alleviate some of my stress. What I appreciate most though, is having a person in my life who will not only listen to my fears and concerns about school and affirm that my feelings are always valid, but also will simultaneously push me to keep trying and prove to myself that I can do it. I can depend on my friend for the same level of emotional support, and she can depend on me. Relationships like this in a student’s life can be the safety net in a very stressful and draining period in life and thus, in my opinion, are crucial to success in podiatry school, residency, and practice.
Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine, Class of 2022