Andrew: why podiatry?

Why podiatry? What advice would you give an undergraduate student interested in this profession?

In 2010, I immigrated to the U.S with my parents at the age of fourteen. Adapting to a new lifestyle was challenging both culturally and financially. Seeing my parent’s sacrifices urged me to work hard and focus on my education because I hoped to eventually take care of my family. Starting my undergraduate career at the University of California, Irvine, I wanted to pursue a degree that would allow me to quickly start earning a stable income to help my family financially. All I knew was merely studying hard and trying to get the best grades that I possibly could, so I would not take my parent’s sacrifices for granted. However, I didn’t feel passionate about my current study. I constantly felt mentally and physically exhausted. As a result, I was a mediocre student who was average at best, despite spending a lot of time and effort.

I realized that my greatest challenge was not academics, but my lack of a sense of purpose. Hence, I did not have the right mindset to thrive and become better. I knew that I needed a big change in perspective. I participated in the Atlantis Global program where I shadowed physicians from different specialties at Ruber International Hospital, Madrid. I remember crying when I first saw a baby during a C-section because it was breathtaking. Yet, the image of the physician performing the surgery was what I could never forget. I was intrigued by the fact a surgeon’s hands could create miracles. At that moment, it inspired me to become a surgeon because I wanted to do the same. Through the program, I also volunteered at a local foster care and the nursing home where I taught children English and aided the elderly to perform basic tasks. In the light of service, I found my purpose. Seeing others suffer reminded me of my own struggles growing up as an immigrant and urged me to help them through compassion. It fueled my interest in pursuing medicine even further because I wanted to have the ability to treat people with my hands while creating a positive impact in society. I reconnected with my curious and passionate self. Hence, I was able to significantly improve my grades while also seeking more opportunities to refine my clinical skills.

…podiatrists have significant positive impacts and long-lasting relationships with their patients.

I came across podiatry when Dr. David Tran from California School of Podiatric Medicine (CSPM) presented in one of my classes. With my desire to become a surgeon, I was immediately interested in the field. Podiatrists can function both as surgeons and chronic care providers as they frequently treat patients with ongoing complications. I began to shadow podiatrists in various settings with a desire to gain an in-depth perspective. Throughout my experiences, patients’ satisfaction highlighted the impact of podiatric medicine and fostered my enthusiasm even further. In addition, practicing podiatric medicine will grant me the opportunity to heal someone with my own hands and not simply through medical prescriptions. What truly solidified my decision was hearing a story about a retired podiatrist who still interacts with his regular patients. This emphasized how podiatrists have significant positive impacts and long-lasting relationships with their patients. It was at this moment that I was convinced podiatric medicine was right for me.

As a second-year podiatry student, I am a strong advocate for this profession. It requires passion and a strong mindset, and these traits it will allow one to overcome any challenge and thrive to succeed. It is important for future applicants to ensure that podiatric medicine aligns with their core values and beliefs. Therefore, I would highly recommend applicants to not be afraid to immerse themselves in the field. Observing the field from many different aspects would be extremely beneficial and help them realize if podiatry is right for them. In addition, gaining a more in-depth perspective would also allow them to grow as an individual and become a more successful applicant and future student.

Andrew Dong

California School of Podiatric Medicine