By Patrick A. DeHeer, DPM, FACFAS, and Erika Jagger DeHeer
The World Wide Web is approaching its 30th birthday. The Internet. To think that the newest generation of podiatrists was born into the digital age—and knows nothing else—puts some of us at risk of feeling, well, "mature".
With exception to a few holdouts, we're all plugged in to the hilt.
We fill our briefcases with smartphones, laptops, cords, chargers, and boosters—an assortment which affords us conveniences we hadn’t imagined before—and keeps us perpetually beholden to the world at large.
The Internet connects us as Americans and inhabitants of the planet Earth. And the Internet divides us.
When we log on, we always and never know what to expect. We can usually count on the perpetual flashing of email and calendar notifications. Those of us who engage in the social media-verse are accustomed to a constant stream of images and thoughts posted by friends, family, and acquaintances. Political discourse is, of course, as familiar to us as the shirts on our backs.
However, there is something relatively new. Predatory podiatrists.
While the overwhelming majority of us clock day-in and day-out hours in the office and/or the OR, there is a tiny subset of DPMs with just the right amount of both baggage and free time, and they're mad.
They're angry. They're anonymous. They have become the architects of blogs and websites—crafted for two purposes—to anonymously trash their colleagues and provide a platform for others to anonymously do the same.
There is of course no crime in being angry nor is there one in hosting a blog or a website.
But aren't we collectively bigger than this? I for one think so.
America's podiatric population is a robust mixture of skill sets and personas. Most of us have found lifelong friends among our fellow DPMs but if we're all being honest and realistic, we can agree that there may be colleagues that we hold less personal affection for than others.
But what to do when we have professional or ethical axes to grind?...
Build platforms to publicly slander fellow members of a profession that has historically had to scratch and claw its way to a level playing field?
If I may be so bold, I can offer alternatives when the urge to troll a colleague arises. Redirect that energy and time to strengthen the profession.
Here are a few ideas …
20. Utilize social media to illuminate an organizational or individual podiatric accomplishment.
19. Enrich the profession and expand your own knowledge base by attending state, regional and national podiatric meetings.
18. Join and get involved with the American Public Health Association, in particular the podiatry section, but don’t overlook the numerous areas of interest.
17. Organize a shoe and/or sock drive for the local homeless population.
16. Contribute to your podiatric alma mater with your time and/or money.
15. Write a thank you note to your professional mentors. Let them know what they meant for your career before it is too late.
14. Find and help a podiatric colleague in need.
13. Volunteer for the Special Olympics by providing foot screenings via the Fit Feet program.
12. Donate to the APMA Educational Foundation to provide scholarships to podiatric students.
11. Take political action to advance and protect the profession. Developing relationships with your members of Congress is critical to garnering their support of legislation pertinent to podiatry.
10. Join one or more of the many podiatric organizations and associations, and become an active member.
9. Volunteer at a free medical clinic in your hometown to serve community members in need.
8. Volunteer for a medical service trip to a developing country. Share your knowledge and experience with local physicians to develop a long-term program serving those in need of lower extremity healthcare.
7. Submit an article for publication to a journal.
6. Participate in a podiatric residency program. Teach. Teach. Teach.
5. Mentor a young podiatric physician. Help to guide him or her through the early years of his or her career.
4. Participate in the student recruitment program by serving as a mentor to undergraduate students considering podiatry schools. Invite prospective students to visit your office. Speak to students at your alma mater who are in the career decision making process.
3. Get involved with your state association. Volunteer in areas that interest you.
2. Become an active member of the APMA. Submit your name to serve on one of the many committees. Respond to calls to action on behalf of the profession when asked to do so.
1. Just be bigger.