DMU CPMS students are also active researchers

CPMS students present posters at DMU’s ninth annual Research Symposium.

Robert Clements tested whether using plastinated specimens helps students identify anatomical structures on MRI scans. Kiera Benge-Shea investigated the surgical management of a rare congenital lower limb deformity. Donald McDonald examined methods to determine the cost-effectiveness of treatment options for plantar heel pain. And Edee Wildman compared metabolic bone markers, such as vitamin D and parathyroid hormone levels, between diabetic and nondiabetic populations.

These individuals are among the 22 students in Des Moines University’s College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery (CPMS) who presented their scientific works, in the form of 16 posters and one oral abstract, at the ninth annual DMU Research Symposium. Students from all four CPMS classes participated in the event.

“Although our didactic and clinical schedules can be rigorous, I have always been drawn to activities that require a hands-on approach for problem-solving and personal development,” says Robert Clements, D.P.M.’20. Prior to enrolling in CPMS, he completed a master’s degree in DMU’s research-focused biomedical sciences program.

“Through the M.S.B.S. curriculum, I discovered how fundamental research is for advancing our understanding of medicine and providing improved patient outcomes,” he says. That motivated him to pursue further research opportunities as a member and president of CPMS’s Student Chapter of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgery.

At the research symposium, Clements won the Outstanding Poster Award in the category of education for his poster, “The use of plastinated specimens to facilitate the identification of anatomical structure on MRI in podiatric medical students.”

“The symposium provides an excellent opportunity for sharing research and receiving constructive feedback from students and faculty alike,” he says.

Winning the Outstanding Poster Award in the clinical category was Kiera Benge-Shea, D.P.M.’20, for her poster, “Surgical management of hallux abducto valgus deformity with concomitant second brachymetatarsia.”

“Just getting to have the experience of how to write an abstract and poster for a case study was a huge learning experience,” she says, “but getting to see the other topics that my peers were interested in really showed how much the podiatric medical field is advancing and how much there is to learn about.”

Edee Wildman delivers her award-winning oral abstract.

Edee Wildman, D.P.M.’20, won the Outstanding Oral Abstract Award with “Comparison of metabolic bone markers in diabetics with peripheral neuropathy to nondiabetic subjects: Charcot risk.” She also presented a poster at the symposium titled “Charcot in a nondiabetic patient: case study.”

“Charcot neuroarthropathy is such a destructive and devastating condition that impacts many Americans,” she says. “There is so much mystery behind its etiology, and I believe there is a wealth of information we still need to learn about it.”

Wildman says she would strongly encourage first-year medical students to get involved in research, which she notes also is key to her future profession.

“I believe that podiatric medicine in the United States is a constantly growing field. As such, we must be dedicated to providing the highest quality of medical care,” she says. “In podiatry, we care for more than the patients’ feet; we care for the whole patient. The research I am a part of truly embodies this belief.”

Some of the CPMS students’ posters represented unique collaborations. Donald McDonald, D.P.M.’20, co-authored his research poster, “Cost-effectiveness of treatment for plantar heel pain,” with Shane McClinton, D.P.T., Ph.D., OCS, FAAOMPT, CSCS, associate professor of physical therapy at DMU.

“It was especially rewarding to work with Dr. McClinton, exploring interprofessional care, knowing time spent in the lab might help shape the future of clinical podiatric medicine,” he says.

The co-authors of the poster presented by Jeanne Mirbey, D.P.M.’19, included not only CPMS Dean Robert Yoho, D.P.M., M.S., FACFAS, Assistant Professor James Mahoney, D.P.M., FACFAS, and classmate Laura Tolentino, D.P.M.’19, but also her father, Joel Mirbey, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in Dijon, France. He performed the surgeries for the cases presented in the poster, titled “Case study: single-stage lengthening osteotomy for brachymetatarsia for the fourth metatarsal.” She credits him for her interest in research and CPMS for letting her pursue it.

“My father is highly involved in research and has developed multiple surgical techniques in his field,” Mirbey says. She was selected by the CPMS faculty to receive the Michael Stone, D.P.M., Outstanding Professional Conduct Award of the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, which will be presented to her at the ABFAS annual business meeting in February. “In my time at DMU, I had the privilege to participate in research on campus, working with Dr. Yoho to co-author a publication in the Journal of Health Science Education titled ‘Measuring student confidence in the clinical training through self-assessment.’ My experience at DMU has been incredible.”