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Is The Grass Always Greener On The Other Side Of The Fence?

   Joe Podd, a first-year podiatry student, was very happy to finally be starting his podiatric medical education. He had spent the last four years toiling at his undergraduate degree, being accepted into podiatry school and taking out his first student loans.

   Even though he liked most of the subjects in the first year of podiatry school, he could not wait to begin learning more clinically relevant subjects. Joe thought, “Things are definitely going to get better for me in my second and third years when I start to learn more clinical skills and actually get to see some real patients.”

   Initially, the second and third years of podiatry school were much better for Joe. He made many good friends, attended classes in the morning and, on some afternoons, was actually allowed to start touching and treating real patients. However, by the end of his third year, Joe became very tired of attending class and fretted about not getting as much clinical experience as he wanted. Joe reasoned, “I cannot wait to move into my fourth year so I am seeing patients all the time.”

   By the time Joe’s fourth year of podiatry school had started, he was glad that he could be in the clinic full time and not have to sit in class anymore. However, he missed seeing his best friends from his class every day since they were off doing their own clinical rotations.

   In addition, the residency selection process was very stressful and expensive. All he could think about was graduating from podiatry school and getting his DPM degree. Joe told a friend, “Being a resident is going to be so much better. I can finally be the doctor and start making money.”

   As he began his residency years, Joe Podd, DPM, was very happy to finally be the doctor for his patients. In his first few months of residency, he proudly lifted his chin a little each time one of his patients called him “Dr. Podd.” However, he was often at the hospital late taking care of sick patients and soon realized that the added responsibility of being a doctor was a lot of work.

   All that Dr. Podd could think of during his last year of residency was finally opening his own practice in his old hometown so he could make some real money. Joe would often think, “I cannot wait to finish my residency so I can start my practice and finally be my own boss.”

   As Dr. Podd went into practice, he found it was difficult at first but relished the opportunity to make all the decisions for his patients and his practice. As the years flew by, Joe became much busier. However, he found that running a business, fighting with insurance companies, dealing with employees and making tough decisions every day regarding the lives of his patients was difficult, stressful and tiring.

   One day, while Dr. Podd was sitting at his desk very late in the afternoon with a stack of unfinished charts in front of him and with patients in the hospital that still needed to be seen that evening, he began to think back to the good old days of podiatry school and his residency years from over 10 years ago.

   A tear came to his eye when he thought about all the good times when he could talk and laugh with his best friends, classmates and co-residents throughout the day, which he now dearly missed. Dr. Podd also remembered how each year of podiatry school and residency was so exciting because he was always learning new information and gaining new clinical skills every day.

   During that moment of personal reflection, Dr. Podd finally realized that for nearly the past two decades, he had always seemed to be looking ahead toward the greener grass on the other side of the fence and not appreciating the good parts of his current situation. He began to understand that he had never taken the time to consider all his blessings during those amazing student and residency years, but instead was always looking forward to how much better the future would be for him.

   From that day on, Dr. Podd made it a point to find time occasionally to reflect on the good things in his life so he could truly appreciate how green the grass was on his side of the fence.

Dr. Kirby is an Adjunct Associate Professor within the Department of Applied Biomechanics at the California School of Podiatric Medicine at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, Ca. He is in private practice in Sacramento, Ca.
Dr. McCord recently retired from practice at the Centralia Medical Center in Centralia, Wash.

Kevin A. Kirby, DPM
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