Feet?

November 24, 2008 —

I’m in my second year of my podiatric education and have found new appreciation for the profession. If you’re not a podiatrist or a podiatry student, you may be thinking, why did I choose the feet? Well this is a mini-story on my initial reaction about podiatry and where it has taken me up to now. 

Nearing my last semester ready to graduate with a B.S. in human biology, I had no idea what was next. Would it be pharmacy? Veterinary school? Biotech? A stay at home post-graduate extraordinaire leeching off my parents? All the options were reasonable but I decided to try something new and applied to Temple University’s podiatry internship program (it was a three day exposure to podiatry I found while surfing online). 

Upon my first exposure to shadowing a podiatrist, I couldn’t get over the fact that it was just feet! I blatantly asked one of the current student, “but the feet, don’t you think it’s gross?” He quickly responded, “Everything in medicine is gross, but you’ll get over it because the patients need you.” 

At that point, I wasn’t entirely convinced that podiatry was for me because I wanted to keep exploring all the possibilities but in reality, there wasn’t much time left to explore. After much research about podiatry, I finally decided to go through the application process, do the interviews, and next thing you know, I’m telling my parents I’m leaving sunny California for Iowa.

In the back of my mind, I guess I had some inkling that medicine would be the perfect fit for me. Now that I’m at DMU, I couldn’t have been more right. I’m learning much more about the podiatric profession in the public health sense, which reminds me of why I wrote this in the first place. Going through our system-based courses, I’ve found new appreciation for the feet. The conditions found in the feet are closely interrelated to the entire body. Finding an ulcer on the foot, for instance, can indicate kidney disease. With the appropriate diagnosis, that individual can be referred to the right specialist to prevent further complications. In another case, seeing bony changes in the foot could mean the patient is suffering from a systemic complication of diabetes. Many times, it’s not until there is a gaping hole in the foot that prompts the patient to visit a podiatrist. Many systemic diseases manifest itself onto the feet and that is one of many things that make podiatry such an interesting field to study. Also, the buzz about preventative medicine is hard to overlook when knowing something as simple as palliative care (trimming toe nails, removing corns) can prevent long-term complications and even amputations. 

My opinion on the podiatric field has definitely changed since the first time I was exposed to it. It’s not just feet; it’s really about caring for the patient in the long run. (Knowing that is how you get over the grossness of it.)

 Clipping toenails to save a leg? Sure, I’ll do it with…and with pleasure. 


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