Good cause sparks interprofessional insights

Second-year podiatric medical student Alex Bischoff and first-year student Ben Bogert test a walk participant’s range of motion.

On May 5, 30 first- and second-year podiatric medical students and physical therapy students teamed up to provide health screenings to participants in Easter Seals Iowa’s Walk for Independence at Camp Sunnyside near Des Moines. They took pulses, tested strength and range of motion, inspected toenails and callouses and evaluated flexibility, honing their skills and providing participants with data to share with their health care providers.

The walk is an annual fundraiser for Easter Seals Iowa and Camp Sunnyside, which provide services that ensure that all people with disabilities or special needs and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities. This year’s walk raised more than $78,000.

“Personally, I’ve always liked volunteering to benefit special needs causes,” says Ben Bogert, a first-year podiatric medical student and president of his class. He served as a track and field coach for special needs individuals in his hometown of Beaverton, OR.

Second-year physical therapy student Laura Francois performs a technique on podiatric student Alex Bischoff.

The event also generated interprofessional insights, Bogert says. As a scribe for a podiatry clinic for two years, he learned that podiatric surgeries had the most successful outcomes with post-surgical physical therapy rehabilitation. At the Walk for Independence, he worked with second-year physical therapy student Laura Francois, from whom he learned more about her field.

“I asked her what she would like other health care professionals to know, which were scope of practice and respect,” he says. “For example, I didn’t know physical therapists provide wound care. Knowing that helps me understand how I can work with physical therapists to benefit patients in my career.”

Francois appreciated Bogert’s question and the opportunity to learn about podiatric medicine from him and fellow podiatric student Alex Bischoff. “It’s so important as future health care providers that we know what other health professionals do and when it’s appropriate to refer our patients,” she says. “We can’t do it alone.”