“An attitude of service and competence”

Syeda “Zehra” Kazmi, D.P.M.’20, and Robert De Los Santos, D.P.M., share a passion for podiatric medicine and promoting the profession to students and the public. They began working together in 2018, when Kazmi became promotions manager for Hallux Magazine, an online publication De Los Santos founded. They even co-authored a book, titled 101 Ways to Flop in Podiatry School, a first-year podiatry school self-help guide.

Stephen Rockhill, Syeda “Zehra” Kazmi and Alex Bischoff, members of the CPMS Class of 2020 

More recently, the two initiated the first annual Hallux Magazine Writing Competition. Students from the nation’s nine podiatry schools were invited to submit 1,000- to 2,000-word responses to these questions: Why is it important for podiatry medical students to be involved in community service/medical mission? How has your organization had an impact in the local community? 

“We wanted to showcase what podiatry does for a community,” says De Los Santos, a 2018 graduate of the California School of Podiatric Medicine who’s now a resident at Kingwood Medical Center in Texas. 

Students in DMU’s College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery (CPMS) did well in the competition. Alex Bischoff and Stephen Rockhill, members of the Class of 2020, took second place, while Mary Brandt, Ersta Ferryanto, Li-Yuan Derek Lee and Katherine Ternent, members of the Class of 2021, and Megan Kingston and Devon Niewohner, members of the Class of 2022, were finalists. Their essays are excerpted here with the students’ and Hallux’s permission. 

The competition submissions were reviewed by four individuals who didn’t know the authors’ names or institutions. Bischoff and Rockhill each received $200 for their second-place finish; the other students received $100 as finalists. 

Hallux Magazine, which features journalistic articles, poetry, essays and short stories, is the latest among four websites De Los Santos created to promote the podiatric profession. Prepodiatrylife.com went “live” in 2015 and is intended to educate high school and college students about podiatric medicine and the admissions process for podiatric school. Prepodiatryclinic101.com offers clinical examples, study materials and videos for first- and second-year podiatric students looking ahead to clinical rotations, and Prepodiatrystudy.com is a free online study guide for fourth-year podiatric students preparing for externships, exams and interviews. De Los Santos and podiatry students from across the country provide content for the sites. 

“They’re great resources for students both in the information and connections they provide. For example, if we hear questions from pre-med students, we can put them in touch with first-, second- or third-year podiatry students,” Kazmi says. “Hallux Magazine promotes all the good sides of podiatry and the positive impact it has. It’s connecting students at all nine podiatric schools, so we can share ideas and keep each other updated on what’s going on.” 

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