Relocating To Broaden Your Mind And Your Practice

Camille Ryans, DPM

Throughout the journey of life, we encounter many firsts. This is especially true for those in the podiatric medical profession.

   Unlike other careers, podiatry may require multiple relocations. The initial move may be to attend podiatry school. At present day, there are only nine schools of podiatric medicine in the United States, which is two more than when I began the application process. Therefore, the odds of having to relocate to a new place in order to attend school are extremely high.

   Aside from the academic demands of graduate-level education, it is also possible that students will have to make an adjustment to the new environment, especially when moving to a different region of the country. In my situation, I moved to Philadelphia from a small, rural town in North Carolina. I had to make tremendous adjustments in order to adapt to the new, fast-paced urban metropolis. I remember riding into the city and admiring the skyline, which seemed to go on for eternity. I soon learned that I better keep my eyes on the road because Philadelphians are no strangers to road rage.

   Eventually, after getting lost a time or two, I figured out how to use the extremely convenient public transportation system. On a student’s meager monetary budget, a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) TransPass was definitely the way to go. With that limitless pass, when the rare occasion of “free time” occurred, I could explore all that the city had to offer. Attending school in a city with such historical relevance was definitely an added bonus. The four years of podiatry school seem to fly by as you are encompassed by the demanding curriculum requirements.

   The conclusion of school signifies the beginning of additional educational and practical experiences. There are numerous post-graduate opportunities across the country and many are concentrated around the podiatry school locations. Accordingly, the odds of having to move once again once school is finished are diminished but not uncommon. Having to bid farewell to your schoolmates and begin working in a new area is at times daunting.

   Before making a decision on applying for a residency program, one should consider a variety of key factors. The incentive of earning a salary may make the decision more difficult than choosing which school to attend. Quality of life, size of city, the cost of living, the vicinity to family and even climate may shape one’s decision. Regardless of the decision, you are only required to live there an additional three to four years of your life, which will seem to go by even faster than school. A good residency program will keep you overly busy.

   Once postgraduate education concludes, your first job as an independent, licensed physician or a position as a fellow will begin. Again, podiatrists are heavily concentrated in the cities that hosts schools of podiatric medicine. As a result, you may have to venture somewhere new.

   You should readily accept this adventure and perceive it as an opportunity for personal growth. Being able to interact with individuals from different places will give you a new appreciation of diversity. It also allows you to form preferences in regard to different geographic locations. Practicing in a small community where everyone knows everyone is much different than working for a busy medical facility within a large city. Once you determine your preferences, then you may be able to focus on building your practice around the qualities that you prefer. There is value in being exposed to a variety of patient populations and practice strategies.

   As a physician, flexibility is a desired quality. The ability to adjust to new environments and situations begins early in our training and may continue for years to follow. It is important to keep an open mind when it comes to relocating because our profession is getting progressively more competitive. Unfortunately, residency positions are limited and certain areas of the country are flooded with podiatrists who are already well-established. In certain circumstances, the necessity to relocate is temporary and, as a result, easier to accept.

   Regardless of the situation, if a new beginning in a novel location must occur, make the best of it and use the opportunity as a learning experience. There are characteristics about places and their population that you will prefer and those that you will not. However, without having that experience, you will never know and your ability to relate to patients from a variety of backgrounds may not be as strong.

   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.

Add new comment