By: Payal Sethi, MS-1.
Payal Sethi is a 1st year podiatric medical student at California School of Podiatric Medicine. She is currently an Editor of Hallux Magazine. She is the 1st place recipient of the Annual Women’s Month Scholarship.
A woman’s job is to raise children, do household chores and look after her husband.
This was a common tagline to many 90s ads that were widely accepted across many countries and societies. Thankfully, the new tagline reads:
Working women: they can do it all.
Society has come a long way from telling women they had no right to education to forming scholarships to support female doctors in a still male-dominated world. In fact, if you ask any female podiatrist that graduated in the 90s they will tell you how often hospital staff and patients mistook them to be nurses because female doctors were so rare. Now, sixty-six percent of podiatrists identify as female. This means an entire surgical specialty of medicine is female-dominated. And why shouldn’t it be? PubMed released a study on how women doctors often have longer consultations, are more patient motivated, and engage more emotionally when counseling with their patients. The time a doctor takes with their patient is incredibly important in ensuring proper care and avoiding any miscommunication in treatment. In a time where most people are looking for human connection in the midst of a pandemic, this becomes even more important.
PubMed released a study on how women doctors often have longer consultations, are more patient motivated, and engage more emotionally when counseling with their patients.
As a female podiatric medical student, I have not yet had the opportunity to meet with my own patients but did have the good fortune to meet many patients in the clinic I shadowed at. I shadowed both a male podiatrist and a female podiatrist and both doctors had very different styles and techniques when consulting with their patients. That is not to say one was better than the other. Both doctors were incredible physicians and highly skilled surgeons with high patient satisfaction outcomes. I simply noticed that we spent longer in patient rooms when I was with the female podiatrist, as many patients felt more comfortable engaging in personal conversions while physical exams or procedures were being conducted. I noticed while the patient shared details about their family and lifestyle, the podiatrist noted extra details the patient may not have mentioned at the start of the appointment. Things like, how often the patient goes hiking or a family history of foot and ankle injury. This led to a higher rate of patient follow up and return since patients felt a personal connection to their doctor. In addition, patient files were more detailed which made it easier for the doctor to come up with a conservative treatment plan that best suited a patient’s lifestyle, leading to a high patient satisfaction outcome. As such, it becomes evident that women in podiatry continue to break away from social injustices that dictate women to be housemakers and move towards earning respect as highly skilled surgeons alongside their male colleagues.
As such, it becomes evident that women in podiatry continue to break away from social injustices that dictate women to be housemakers and move towards earning respect as highly skilled surgeons alongside their male colleagues.
As a woman in podiatry, I can also speak to the sisterhood that forms between female podiatrists. On the very first day of being accepted to the California School of Podiatric Medicine, the upper-year female students immediately began reaching out asking if I needed any help with the transition to medical school. Even though this pandemic has prevented me from meeting them, we have formed a sisterhood that reaches beyond mentorship. If we think ahead to how this may extend in professional settings like the clinic or hospital, the impact is immeasurable. Working in an environment where female physicians and staff support one another like a family will ensure patients feel at home during their appointments. There are even a number of patients who need to bring their children to their appointment. Whilst playing with one patient’s child, the female podiatrist I was shadowing noticed a slightly strange gait when the toddler was walking around. This led to an early podopediatric diagnosis that might not have been caught if the child had stayed in her mother’s lap. I have also met with patients with cultural practices that prevent them from meeting with male physicians. I have heard first-hand how much they appreciate having female physicians with whom they feel comfortable. As such, having a field of medicine that is dominated by females ensures that any woman of any color can receive healthcare without compromising on their cultural or religious practices. The nurturing environment that comes from women helping women, continues to shape the future of podiatry as a family-centered specialty.
The nurturing environment that comes from women helping women, continues to shape the future of podiatry as a family-centered specialty.
Finally, I can speak to the nature of women to go above and beyond. This is probably the most impactful example of how women in podiatry are shaping the future of podiatric medicine. Personally, I have seen the lengths a female podiatrist will go to when a patient requires a specific orthotic that will fit in their heel or dance slipper. The contraptions that some podiatrists build for their patients to ensure their treatment will not compromise their livelihood, hobby, or quality of life is truly inspirational. In fact, the number of podiatrist recommended heel and dress shoe companies increase every year. I can see a future filled with medically approved casts and shoes that are trendy and manageable. In an era that is moving towards active lifestyles, these trendy but manageable inventions set the tone for improving patients’ quality of lives not just in their foot health but also in their overall health and confidence.
Finally, I can speak to the nature of women to go above and beyond. This is probably the most impactful example of how women in podiatry are shaping the future of podiatric medicine.
Women have come a long way from using their vast skills as homemakers to becoming skilled surgeons who also manage a family. With intuition, a kind ear, love, and support they are able to care for their patients like family. Though there is still work to be done to shatter the glass ceilings imposed on us, podiatry is one of the fastest evolving medical specialties. It is a field of medicine that I take pride to practice in, and a sisterhood I am honored to be a part of.
Women have come a long way from using their vast skills as homemakers to becoming skilled surgeons who also manage a family.
By Payal Sethi, MS–1
School: California School of Podiatric Medicine
Support Hallux Magazine’s Writing
Have the urge to write something? Are you motivated to publish something worth sharing? Want to give advice, helpful tips, or podiatry information to the younger generation? Visit our Authors section before submitting. Get in contact with us and one of our student journalists will reach out to you. We hope to get from people around the world that way.