Lights, camera, podiatric medicine

Grad stars in “My Feet Are Killing Me”

Ebonie Vincent, D.P.M.’15, M.B.S., sees a wide variety of patients and conditions in her Orange County, CA, practice. One day, she’s inserting a cadaver bone into a patient’s foot to correct her brachymetatarsia or an abnormally short toe; the next, she’s performing a delicate surgery to treat a toddler who was born with 12 toes. While variety is not unusual in the podiatric profession, what is unique about Vincent is she treats patients on television as the star of the TLC series “My Feet Are Killing Me.” 

In the eight-part series, which began Jan. 2, Vincent and her co-star, Brad Schaeffer, D.P.M., a podiatrist in New Jersey, “juggle all sorts of eye-popping cases, from wart clusters to funky fungus,” stated the TLC press release about the show. The camera zooms in on wounds, gnarly toenails, surgeries and even a case of Proteus syndrome, a rare condition characterized by overgrowth of the bones, skin and other tissues. The physicians never flinch; instead, they provide compassionate counsel and treatment. 

“I can’t quite wrap my brain around it, but it was really fun,” Vincent says. 

The project began when she caught the attention of a production company that saw her videos on YouTube. The company filmed her in her office, produced a pilot and successfully pitched it to TLC, home to such shows as “Dr. Pimple Popper” and “My 600-lb. Life.” The producers select the patients, but Vincent gets to say whether she will treat each one. She’s extremely careful that she’s in touch with patients’ primary care providers, that her medical care is depicted correctly and that patients aren’t made into “a freak show.” 

“I hope the show will clear up confusion about podiatry and our scope of practice and show the versatility in what podiatric physicians are capable of,” she says. “Everybody has a foot problem, so I hope it will help people know they can get help from a podiatrist.” 

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