The summer after my sophomore year of college I taught pre-school swimming lessons at my local YMCA. Imagine my surprise last week when one of my old swimming students was conducting occupational interviews for a high school project (I feel SO old!) and asked for my input. I filled out my interview and emailed it back to her. This got me to thinking about how many people, even people reading this blog, know very little about podiatry. Whenever I see a patient who is preparing for college or a patient who is the parent of a student preparing for college, I can’t say enough good things about my chosen field. I love what I do, and I would love to share my profession with all of you. To do that, here is a copy of the interview I filled out earlier this week. Welcome to Podiatry 101.
Name: Hillarie Sizemore Amburgey
Occupation: Podiatrist (Foot and Ankle Surgeon) at Advanced Foot and Ankle Care
Years of Experience:4.5
How would you describe what you do?
I diagnose and treat foot and ankle problems in adults and children. I specialize in congenital disorders, sports injuries, diabetic foot care, and minor and reconstructive surgery of the feet and ankles.
What is your average day like?
No day is alike, which is one of the things I love the most about my job. I typically see patients in my office 5 days a week and do surgery a half or whole day a week. If I have a patient that I am seeing in the hospital then I go see them (round on them) either on my lunch break or after regular work hours.
What kind of hours do you work? Do you have to work weekends, holidays or call?
I work from 8-5pm in the office 5 days a week. On days that I have surgery then I am at the hospital by 6:45 or 7am. If I have a patient in the hospital then my day usually ends around 7pm. I am on call every 3rd week and weekend. Our office is closed Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve, New Years Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.
What kind of training or education did you complete?
I completed undergraduate college in 3 years, and then went to a podiatric medical school for 4 years. Then I completed 3 years of residency training.
How long did it take for you to find a job once you completed your education or training?
I found a job before I completed residency.
Do people in your occupation all have a similar job duty or is there variety?
There is some variety. All podiatrists have surgical training; however some prefer not to do surgery. Podiatrists are employed in private practice, at hospitals, wound care centers and sports medicine clinics. Some very specialized podiatrists just specialize in the treatment of foot problems in children.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The interaction with my patients. They are constant sources of jokes and the weather forecast. I laugh and cry with them. And I am always learning new things from them.
What is your least favorite part of your job?
The pressure to change my treatment plan or what I think is best for my patient because their insurance won’t pay for it, and they can’t afford it. It is a shame that insurances and people with no medical education have so much influence on patient care.
How did you decide on your career?
I shadowed a podiatrist and liked what I saw. I felt that he had a good quality of life, was helping people every day, and had a great relationship with his patients.
What are three qualities that would help someone succeed in your career (e.g. creative, organized)?
You will need to be…….
1. Self-motivating- You will need to push yourself through school and residency. The learning never ends. I still study every week.
2. Likeable- A medical practice is still a business, and your business will fail if your customers don’t like you. If your patients like you they are more likely to take your advice and refer you to their friends and family.
3. Compassionate- Foot pain and problems get in the way of people’s lives in a big way. People that can’t walk without pain are more likely to lead sedentary lives and become depressed. It’s important to remember this and to try to empathize with your patients.
Would you encourage young people to pursue your occupation?
If it’s what they really want to do, yes. If they see a future of sports cars, tropical vacations, and mansions in their future, then they should probably look into doing something else with their life. Healthcare has changed quite a bit in the past 10 years, and I believe it will change a lot more in the next 5-10 years. The cost of a medical education is around $200,000.00, and in this day and age of decreased reimbursements (payments) that is a big financial burden. For many physicians it can take upwards of 30 years to pay off these loans.
What are some fun facts or interesting stories from your job?
I have a lot of funny and gross stories. Sometimes patients come in with maggots crawling out of their foot wounds. This is cleaning the wound of dead tissue and is actually good for it (but we usually clean them off anyway).
I have also used leeches to stimulate blood flow to a foot with decreased circulation.
I would estimate that about 5 times a week (at least!) I am asked why I would want to look at peoples feet every day. And I usually (Jokingly) respond that I have a foot fetish. Then I go on and on about all the things that I love about my job J.