Why podiatry? What advice would you give an undergraduate student interested in this profession?
I chose podiatry because is it a field that draws upon a wide variety of medical specialties. Though podiatry is focused on the foot and ankle, it includes the vasculature, dermatology, neurology, and musculoskeletal structure of the lower extremity. I felt that podiatry would be a good fit for me because I would be able to focus on an important part of the body while still treating a variety of pathologies that would keep me engaged. Another reason why I chose podiatry is because it also offers the ability to perform both in-office procedures and surgery. There is something rewarding about being able to solve a problem with one’s own hands. Not only are the results often immediate, but they can be visualized as well.
My advice to an undergraduate interested in podiatry would be to first reflect on whether he or she can make the sacrifices to pursue this profession. Podiatry school takes a lot of time, money, and effort. It is a rigorous four-year degree, which is followed by a three-year surgical residency program. Once the student has made the decision to further explore podiatry, he or she should shadow a podiatrist. That is how I decided that I wanted to pursue podiatry. I saw up close how a podiatrist could treat a patient’s condition, and what an impact that made on that patient’s life. Shadowing helped me envision what it would be like if I was a podiatrist, and I would encourage any interested student to seek it out and make the most of it.
…reflect on whether he or she can make the sacrifices to pursue this profession.
While shadowing, one should ask the podiatrist questions about day-to-day duties. This is an excellent way to learn about the skills and knowledge that podiatrists possess, what conditions they treat, and how they treat them. Beyond the scope of practice, the undergraduate student should also ask about the difficulties that podiatrists face at work. These may range from chronic conditions to non-compliant patients to billing issues. It’s important that an undergraduate student interested in podiatry fully understand both the benefits and potential challenges in the field.
As I start my third year of podiatry school, I am starting to experience some of the reasons why I chose podiatry. My clinical rotations are giving me the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of conditions while helping patients in a meaningful way. I am glad that I found podiatry and chose to shadow a podiatrist over three years ago. I would advise any undergraduate student who is even slightly interested in podiatry to shadow and learn more about the profession. It is the best way for students to see if podiatry is the right career for them.
California School of Podiatric Medicine, Class of 2023