We learn the fundamental principles of respect and courtesy from a young age and hopefully master them by preschool. As individuals advance through primary school, secondary school and beyond, they learn more complex concepts. Every now and again, we all need to remember to practice the basic concepts of “please” and “thank you” as they may go a long way, especially in the profession of podiatric medicine.
At the start of their career, students interact most closely among themselves and with their professors. They may spend endless hours in study groups learning the material introduced during class. Students’ peers will greatly appreciate them being a team player and maintaining an encouraging positive attitude as those abilities are invaluable resources for success. Our peers are able to offer a different perspective on what they previously learned and are often able to make it more relatable.
Later on in the quest to becoming a podiatrist, these same peers may be your co-residents or help you secure a residency position either through connections with different programs or something as small as giving positive feedback when asked their opinion of you. School is not the time to be ultra-competitive and conniving. It is a time to provide assistance when needed and to help each other out.
Physicians should take the same attitude during residency. A cohesive group of residents who have a good rapport with each other makes the program stronger. Residents focus less attention on trying to like each other and spend more time learning and teaching each other. Senior residents especially can help prepare you for what’s to come, whether it is how a certain attending cares for in-patients or the technique for a certain surgical procedure. Learn everything you can from them and avoid conflict with them because before you know it, you will be in their shoes.
Aside from fellow students, podiatry professors and guest lecturers deserve a huge thank you. Without a strong handle on the fundamental principles of podiatry, one cannot succeed. Professors set high expectations and devote many extra hours preparing lectures. They are the podiatry profession’s minority because they have dedicated their lives to staying connected to the academic sector of the profession. Many are involved with authoring textbooks and writing or administering our boards. It is more than likely that they graduated with high grade point averages so they know the ingredients of being a stellar student.
Given that residency is the final opportunity to be educated for a sustained period of time, residency directors, program attendings, staff and administrators deserve gratitude. The perception of being a resident is commonly a negative one as we are part of a hierarchy and our place on the totem pole seems extremely low. Compared to past years, financial compensation and benefits have increased exponentially, for which we should be grateful.
Ultimately, residency is a time for learning. Regardless of how you perceive that you are being treated, if you are learning valuable information, it will be worth it in the end. The biggest disservice that one can provide to you as a resident is a reluctance to teach. If you are involved with a residency program, it is imperative that you contribute something back, no matter how trivial. If not, it’s not worth your time and effort nor is it worth the residents’ time and effort.
Residency directors want to foster the best program possible and attract the strongest candidates. As a result, the success of all of their residents is important. Directors desire for residents to pass boards, secure fulfilling employment and be competent physicians. The reputation of the program for which they are the leaders rests upon it. They, more than anyone, want their residents to do well. The task of running a residency program is not an easy one. Many times, the position is coupled with running a full-time medical practice. Residency directors could get the same compensation elsewhere but they have a mission to better the future podiatric physicians, and this deserves our sincere appreciation and respect.
The path to becoming a podiatrist is a long one. Do not forget to practice the basic principles of decency. They will come in handy when dealing with peers, staff and patients because without them, our profession cannot exist.
Dr. Ryans is completing her third year of residency at SSM DePaul Health Center in St. Louis.
Dr. McCord retired in December 2008 from practice at the Centralia Medical Center in Centralia, Wash.