What led to your interest in a career in podiatric medicine? Who or what inspired you?
For as long as I can remember I knew I wanted to pursue a career in medicine because of the personal medical challenges I faced throughout my own life. More specifically, I always thought I wanted to pursue a career in Orthopedic Surgery. During undergrad at NU I did everything I could to expose myself to as many aspects of medicine as possible. Whether it be via volunteer work or co-op, I took advantage of being in the backdrop of such a large medical community in the Boston area. I had the opportunity to shadow and learn about many different medical fields. However, it was not until the end of my senior year while working a Boston Children’s Hospital Division of Sports Medicine as a Research Assistant that I was exposed to Podiatric Medicine. For my senior Capstone project I wanted to complete a project on foot health so I began working with one of the podiatrists in our department. Through this interaction I was able to get to know him on a personal level and began shadowing him and one of the other podiatrists on staff. As I learned more about the profession, the opportunities available, and the work/life balance, I realized that Podiatric Medicine was the perfect fit for me.
How did you prepare yourself for medical school? The application process?
In preparing for medical school, first and foremost, I focused on my studies. As you will learn in medical school, your basic sciences really become the foundation of your medical education. Grades via GPA and MCAT scores are a big part of the application process for acceptance by any medical school: podiatric, allopathic, osteopathic, and dental. You want to put yourself in the best position possible as an applicant and GPA and MCAT scores are the first step. However, it is not the only part of your application. I really prided myself in being a well-rounded student through volunteer work, employment, and extracurricular activities. Nonetheless, it is the quality not the quantity of your experiences that is important. To have 2-3 activities that you have done consistently for a number of years is much more valuable than being a part of 5 different clubs, jumping from job to job, or doing multiple one time volunteer activities. You need to be able to discuss why you participated in these activities and the effect they have had on you.
Logistically, have an understanding of how the application process works before the time comes when applications are open. Have your personal statement and descriptions for your extracurricular activities completed to meet the needs of the application before it opens. Application into podiatry school is a bit different than allopathic medical school in that from what I remember the allopathic application opens up a month in advance before you are actually able to submit your application. The podiatric application does not open in advance. Once it opens you are eligible to submit it at any time. As with all other medical schools, applying as early as possible increases your chances as most schools have rolling admissions.
What undergraduate experiences were most instrumental to your success?
Cooperative education was the experience that was most instrumental to my success. It helped get me to where I am today and exposed me to the podiatric profession which I did not know existed beforehand. Additionally, I was able to foster great relationships with staff members and doctors in many aspects of medicine that I still keep in contact with today. It is my drive and constant curiosity to learn from those in the medical field which has served me far beyond any class I took.
What obstacles or hurdles did you overcome in your medical school journey?
One of the biggest obstacles I faced was the MCAT. It becomes very difficult to prepare for the exam while also studying for current courses. But it is your ability to effectively manage your time and stick to a schedule that works for you. This is a skill that is absolutely essential to have in medical school. I gave myself ample time to study, took a review course (which I would recommend doing) and set a schedule for myself leading up to the exam all while keeping to account classes and my work schedule. You will learn very quickly once entering medical school that your ability to begin managing multiple tasks at one time will serve you well in your future medical career.
Did you did matriculate directly from NU to medical school or did you have a gap year?
I took a year off after graduating from NU before matriculating to medical school. I worked full time expanding my co-op job as a Surgical Research Coordinator at the Division of Sports Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.
6. Whether you entered medical school directly from NU or had a gap year (or more), looking back, are you happy with the decision you made? Why or why not?
At the time taking a year off was not something I particularly planned on doing; however, I am glad I did. The gap year provided me with a wonderful opportunity to take part in all aspects of clinical research. It gave me the knowledge to begin an independent research project that I am currently conducting in medical school. I was able to learn even more about the podiatric profession which further expanded my excitement to matriculate into podiatric medical school. Additionally, it gave me time to relax and really do some things that I had not had the opportunity to do in undergrad. Things such as traveling, becoming a more integral part in volunteer activities, saving money, and just having fun. Medical school can be very intense at times and has the potential to put a large stress on you. Take some time to unwind before you begin studying like you never have before.
Is podiatric medical school what you thought it would be? Would you share your thoughts?
I did not have a great deal of knowledge of what medical school was like during undergrad. I knew it would be tough I just did not to how tough. The best analogy I have been given to describe medical school is as follows: as an undergrad it is like drinking out of a water fountain but medical school is like drinking out of a fire hose. The volume of material and level of detail that you receive in medical school is far beyond anything you will learn in your undergraduate studies. You will be challenged like you never have before. With that said anyone has the ability to succeed. As I previously said, effective time management is absolutely essential. As long as you stay driven and motivated you will succeed.
Clinically, you will be exposed to so many different pathologies and will begin grasping what medicine is all about, treating patients, etc. It is your clinical education that catapults you into applying everything you’ve learned to real life clinical scenarios. Additionally, as a medical student and resident you will be rotating on all types of medical services outside of podiatry such as emergency medicine, general surgery, internal medicine, dermatology, infectious disease, etc. In podiatry you learn how to become a well-rounded doctor that specializes in podiatric medicine.
The Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Sciences is an inter-professional graduate institution which offers Medical School, Physical Therapy, Physician’s Assistant, Physical Therapy, Pathology Assistant, Nurse Anesthetist, Pharmacy and many other programs. Many of our courses in the first and second year are taken with students from other programs, more specifically the Chicago Medical students. It has allowed me to not only gain a knowledge base in my own program but to interact, learn and gain an appreciation for other medical specialties.
What are your career goals right now? Have they changed since you begin your medical school studies?
After podiatry school I will complete a 3-year Podiatric Medicine & Surgery Residency with Reconstructive Rearfoot and Ankle Certification. All podiatric residencies are now 3 year programs. Each residency is unique in that they have special emphasis depending on where your residency is completed. As I have been exposed to more aspects of Podiatric Medicine, my current interests include reconstructive foot and ankle surgery and sports medicine. However, I have gained a strong interest in pediatric podiatry, diabetic wound care, and limb salvage. As I begin my rotations and clerkships during my third and fourth year I will be fortunate enough to get exposure to all these different aspects of podiatry which will help narrow down potential hospitals to do elective rotations and ultimately a residency.
Applicants should make sure that podiatric medicine is the RIGHT choice for them. Find podiatrists in the Boston area or your home town and contact them. Ask about shadowing and sitting down with them to learn more about the profession. Have an idea of what you are getting into, what the process is like, and how the career has impacted their lives. Also shadow other medical professionals to make sure your interests do not lie in another field of medicine. Like any professional program you will invest so much time into, your education is for the rest of your lives. Learning will (and should) never stop so you make sure that this is absolutely what you want to do.
Take advantage of opportunities and don’t be afraid to try new things. One opportunity always has the ability to open a door to success or even present you with something new.
Being a medical student and ultimately a doctor who will care for patients is a tremendous privilege and gift. But it is up to you to get there. Medicine is changing every day and podiatric medicine in particular is a medical field that is rapidly expanding. I encourage all students interested in medicine to explore podiatry and open themselves to the opportunities it can provide.