This month, as the members of the class of 2014 begin their education at medical schools, it seems like a good time to reflect on where the future podiatric medical student will come from. More importantly, what can we do as podiatrists to help ensure that our future colleagues include the best and the brightest our profession deserves?
It has often been said that podiatric medicine is a well-kept secret among the health professions. Even today, there are many who do not know what we do and what our scope of education and practice includes. The fact that our colleges train doctors of podiatric medicine to deliver full service foot and ankle care at the highest level is also too rarely known. Even among our colleagues in other health professions, one still finds ignorance of the parity of our curricula with that of other medical schools and the extensive post-graduate training offered by our multi-year residency programs.
Each of us must take every opportunity to educate others about what podiatric medicine is and how well we do what we do.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to interact with the other healthcare providers treating your patients about the diagnostic and management services you are providing. You can do this with consultation reports, letters, e-mails and handwritten notes. Phone calls to colleagues about patients are also useful but fail to provide the permanent document for reflection to ultimately be placed in the patient’s medical record. Play an active role in the hospitals, medical groups and organizations you belong to so the important contributions of doctors of podiatric medicine receive consistent recognition.
If we raise the IQ of the healthcare community about our profession, then more of its members will suggest a career in our specialty to interested students inquiring about career options.
In addition, our offices offer us opportunities to inform patients of all ages about our dynamic profession. A young patient looking at college options may be receptive to hearing more about what you do and how much satisfaction you get from your work. When middle-aged parents of those maturing children consult you about a foot problem, they are eager to learn about career options for healthcare-oriented students. Informed grandparents, staples in most podiatric medical offices, make great advocates for our profession as a career option. Remember that in troubled financial times, there is an uptick in interest in the medical professions as students recognize them as safe harbors in an unemployment storm.
On another front, contact faculty, advisors or administrators from our own undergraduate institutions to inform them about spreading the word on podiatric medicine as a career option. Alumni, especially active, involved alumni, often have the ear of their alma maters and a little bit of effort can stir interest.
In the end, it is all about each of us making the effort to make sure that sharp, motivated students interested in a career in the health professions know that podiatric medicine can be an interesting, dynamic and rewarding career option.
Do your part and our future classes will be filled with the best and the brightest.