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What Your Fellow Residents Can Teach You About The Profession

Looking back, many podiatric practitioners would agree that at some point during their residency, they faced a demanding situation. Although the required amount of post-graduate training is only a short time, an immeasurable amount of personal growth and development occurs. Resources for learning about technical procedures are abundant, but it is equally important to become enlightened about other facets that produce superb physicians. We learn many of these qualities from simple human interaction.

   Even though podiatry is a small, close-knit profession, we have endless opportunities to interact with individuals from all types of backgrounds and in a variety of settings, especially during residency training. This may include communicating with other healthcare professionals, students, peers and, of course, patients. There is not a single day that passes when we do not utilize teamwork to achieve a certain task in the world of medicine.

   As a result, it is imperative that we display respect during every interaction and with every individual. There are numerous hurdles to cross as a young doctor but we must earn respect as respect is not a given.

   There is often an adjustment period as an individual adapts to the fast paced and high stress health care environment. At times, things may seem overwhelming and it may be difficult to concentrate on goals that we must accomplish. Over time, individuals become accustomed to such settings. For example, it is very easy to distinguish a veteran operating room employee from someone who is in training or someone who has recently started working. Certainly, one’s strengths and weaknesses will be on display during residency training. It is important however to be compassionate toward those in training and to reflect back on what difficulties you faced when you were a novice.

   The consensus is that the goal of podiatric medical residency is to foster an academic environment for the development of highly qualified and skilled physicians.

   This definition is multifaceted. With the recent increase in the number of podiatric medical schools and therefore an increase in the number of podiatrists in training, there is an ever increasing exchange of ideas that may take place. In response to such a rise in the number of applicants for podiatric residencies, many programs have increased the number of residents who are accepted. In many ways, this is positive.

   In residency, the knowledge of fellow residents is one of the most valuable learning resources. Individuals who have recently experienced similar events usually have a coherent recollection of the situation. As a result, they are able to offer helpful advice on ways to cope with or to overcome the dilemma. They may also relate to you more closely and be able to provide effective teaching or mentoring. Being a good educator is difficult.

   A delicate balance exists between actual quantitative experience and the utilization of those cumulative experiences to deliver a concept to someone who is inexperienced. The combination of having exposure to the expertise of well versed physicians with the relatability of training physicians allows residents ample opportunity to maximize their learning.

   Additionally, residents have numerous opportunities to participate in academic activities. They have the opportunity to work in a podiatrist’s office and to observe the patient interaction, treatment plans and practice management skills involved in running a practice. Aside from local educational experiences, most residency programs provide their residents with a continuing medical education stipend, which residents can use to attend various national and even international scientific meetings and conferences. A massive exchange of ideas occurs at these venues and the greater the exposure to various concepts, the better.

   As our profession continues to evolve, so should the structure of its post-graduate training programs. On a large scale, numerous improvements have occurred in order to standardize residency training for proficient podiatric physicians but it is essential to not overlook simple policies that many individual residency programs can institute for the greater good.

   Keep in mind that there is something to be gained from each interaction with our fellow podiatrists. The accumulation of such personal experiences serves as a continuum of learning, which is an international mission of the medical practice.

   Dr. Ryans is a second-year resident at SSM DePaul Health Center in St. Louis.

   Dr. McCord retired in December 2008 from practice at the Centralia Medical Center in Centralia, Wash.

   Editor’s note: For related articles, see “Why We Are Training The Next Generation The Right Way” in the December 2007 issue or visit the archives at www.podiatrytoday.com .

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Camille Ryans, DPM
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