Reflections From A Podiatrist In An Orthopedic Practice

This Post Has Been Republished From: Podiatry Today

Three years ago, I was a part of a large podiatry practice, had great patients and loved helping my patients feel better. I had been there for more than eight years and truly thought I’d be a “lifer” there. I thought I was happy.

Then I joined an orthopedic practice and the last three years of my career have been life-altering. Eleanor Roosevelt once stated, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” I want to share some of my story in case any of you have also taken that message to heart over the years.

In the orthopedic group, I see about 50 percent more patients a week now by my rough estimate. Some of those patients, seeing me as a provider in an orthopedic group, are not aware that I am a podiatrist. These would be the patients who mention “that podiatrist” when referring to their previous provider. Instead of using the doctor’s name, they call him or her “that podiatrist,” in a somewhat negative way.

Their perception often changes when they come to realize that I am a podiatrist after proudly describing my training and career. I am proud of the work I have done to provide the best possible podiatric care to anyone who needs and seeks my services. I have grown to appreciate that, in some cases, the reputation of my orthopedic group gets the patients in the door but my skills and training are what gets them out the door with healthy feet.

Although my skill set has not changed since I joined the orthopedic group, the care I am able to provide my patients has changed dramatically. The ancillary services available to my patients in this setting are game-changing. I am able to see more patients in a day because of the incredible support from the front desk patient representatives, my nurse, my secretary and scheduler, the triage nurses, radiology, and all the way up to administration. Being a part of this orthopedic group allows me to provide direct in-house access to X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), physical therapy, durable medical equipment (DME) specialists, shoe fitting and pedorthist services, and a state-of-the-art surgery center. While I am providing the exact same podiatry care that I have been so proud to offer my entire career, the overall patient experience is vastly improved.

While the orthopedic practice has allowed me to offer so much improvement in patient flow and care, I firmly believe I am also a better provider because of my workplace. Although my skills are no different, I certainly am. I am much happier and much more confident in my “new” home. The company has set me up to succeed as a doctor and in my life. My administration, coworkers and orthopedic colleagues all genuinely support a healthy work-life culture. This has allowed me to spread my wings professionally and pursue leadership roles in both my state and national organizations that support podiatry. For instance, through my role in my state organization, I sat down with a major insurance company on behalf of the association and its members. As I left that meeting, I remember knowing for sure that my dream job had also enabled me to do what felt like I was meant to do outside of direct patient care. It makes me so happy to be able to help other podiatrists. I also get to come home at the end of the day and enjoy personal moments like time with my husband and dogs, travel, reading, and cooking while being able to truly disconnect.

As I stated earlier, I was lucky enough to join an orthopedic group three years ago. That luck has evolved into being happier in my career and life than I could have imagined. Being able to achieve this work-life balance and find happiness and confidence has also translated to better patient care. My patients who knew me in my prior practice comment now on how much happier I seem. New patients comment on how happy I appear to be where I am. Where I am is a part of an awesome orthopedic group and proud to be a podiatrist!

I am happy to share the exceptional and rigorous training that we all undertake during school, residency, and beyond to become podiatrists. Although I am proud to be a part of my orthopedic group, I am even more proud to be a podiatrist. It makes me so happy to provide and be supported so well in providing the best possible podiatric care to each and every one of my patients. No matter where you are or what your practice may be, make sure you are happy. Happiness truly is the key to a successful career and life.

Dr. Stephanie Hook is a Trustee of the New York State Podiatric Medical Association, Chair of the NYSPMA Public Education and Information Committee, and a sub-Chair of the American Board of Podiatric Medicine Membership Committee in the Crisis Communication and Audit division. She is in private practice at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists in Syracuse, N.Y.