Medicine and Surgery: The Best Kept Secret

 In Uncategorized, Voices of Diversity

I never doubted that one day I’d put on a white coat bearing my name and credentials, but I don’t think I could have ever imagined the journey would bring me to this exact place.

My undergraduate years were an excellent time to meet other students with similar interests.  Like many Biology/Pre-med majors, community service, summer enrichment programs, and physician shadowing opportunities were at the forefront of my agenda.  However, excelling academically in neuroscience and microbiology motivated me to consider a life dedicated to research.  And so I did…but after publishing my research and receiving an advanced degree, I learned that my contribution to medicine was destined to be far more tangible.

So I accepted a job as a Science Teacher within a specialized high school program designed to expose students to a wide range of careers in health care.  It seems like yesterday (but really it was 15 years ago) I was standing in front of my classroom thinking as eager eyes glared back at me, “ Oh my, what have I gotten myself into?”  Is my contribution to medicine solely to mold young doctors of tomorrow?  After all, a key element of this high school curriculum was to enhance classroom learning in an actual healthcare environment with physicians and dentist.  My students began uncovering the multi-faceted realm of healthcare, but it was I who discovered medicine’s best kept secret: PODIATRY.

Podiatry was a choice: not an alternative.  This profession appealed to me because from the first day of podiatry school to the last day of residency (7years total), the focus centered on excellence in foot and ankle medicine and surgery.  Podiatry, in its administrative, educational, and clinical processes, bears similarity to allopathic and osteopathic medicine.  Having reconstructive and trauma foot/ankle surgical training afforded me the opportunity to make this career as laid back or as high-paced as desired.   There were several times along this path I felt I was blazing new terrain (as a woman, minority, and podiatric surgeon), yet I accepted the challenge.

I am a believer that every experience in life bears relevance, even though at the time it may absolutely make no sense.  My early experience as a researcher now prompts attention to detail, a regimented approach to medical complexities, and a true understanding of how patience may ultimately lend an answer.  I’m reminded of my job as a high school teacher and how it prepped me for lecturing to students and residents who also share a dream to one day become doctors. Whether teaching Afghan Orthopaedic Surgeons how to manage foot and ankle trauma or rendering humanitarian aid in Guatemala, my current challenges as a US Navy Officer are mere “shoulder brushes” compared to difficulties overcome. My best decision was having the courage to choose an unconventional route to medicine.

There are many paths to careers in medicine. What will be your story?  The Tour for Diversity in Medicine is a fantastic starting point to explore options. Our goal is to equip students with tools to succeed.  Whether your search begins on the website or by visiting a tour in your city, get connected! It will definitely be an investment that continues to reap benefits.


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