Through the Eyes of a Student Podiatrist

An interview with Jocelyn Kelly

Interviewed by: Shanterian King



    Jocelyn Kelly, is a medical student studying the field of podiatry. She attends Temple School of Podiatric Medicine, located in Philadelphia. Ms. Kellly attended Morgan University, where she acquired a Bachelor of Science in biology.


Her inspiration: Jocelyn always had an interest in becoming a doctor, primarliy a pediatrician. However, during her sophmore year of college she decided to explore the various fields of medicine to ensure her happiness. She then visited three of the colleges of  podiatric medicine and shadowed two different podiatrist to explore the field. At the time, her mother was also seeing a podiatrist. All of these factors helped to peak her interest in podiatry.



What are the educational/ certification requirements of a podiatrist?


A podiatrist must earn a degree from one of the eight colleges of podiatric medicine, complete at least one year of residency ( however, it is most common to do 3 years), and become licensed to practic in the state of their choice. One must also effectively pass  a 3-part exam given after the 2nd year, during the 4th year, and after graduation.



What is a podiatrist and what do podiatrist encounter on a daily basis?


A podiatrist is a surgeon of the foot and ankle. Most podiatrist have a patient base of middle to late age individuals, as this is the time when many people begin to experience foot pain. Podiatrist also care for a large portion fo diabetic population because the mechanics of this disease affect the feet first.



What classes are you currently enrolled in? Do any of your classes relate to  biology? If so, please explain?


Reconstructive surgery, First Ray Surgery, Dermatology, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Traumatology. At this point all of my classes relate to biology because I am learning to sustain life both before and after surgical correction. The internal medicine class would relate the most to biology because it is the study of any and all diseases that affect the body.   



What is the basic structure of the foot? About how many bones and muscles are located in the foot?


There are 26-28 bones in the foot. The addition comes in when some count the 2 sesamoid bones underneath the first metatarsal. There are 20 muscles in the foot not including the numerous muscle tendons that come from the leg down and attach in the foot. The foot bones are broken down into forefoot, midfoot, and hindfoot.


What are some common diseases of the foot? What are some symptoms of these diseases? Are they hereditary?


The disease, per se, that occur in the foot are not really common unless you have a predisposing disease like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or a neuromuscular condition. However, some common syndromes we see are planter fasciaitis( or heel pain), Achilles, tendonitis or rupture, fungal skin infections, bunion or hammertoe formation and ankle sprains and fractures.



If there is a cure, what is done? What medicines are commonly used?


Many of the osseous(bony) malformations are due to the biochemical structure of the foot. If there is pain then anti-flammatory medications or corticosteroid imjections (any of the steroid hormones produced by the adrenal cortex) can be given. For the dematologic conditions, various creams, lotions, and oral medication are used to kill the microbial agent.



If a person has an oddly-shaped foot, how would they buy their shoes? Would they have to see a podiatrist regularly?


Many biochemical and structural conditions can be corrected with orthotics, which are custom-made insoles for the shoes that correct the imbalance. If this is unsuccessful, than corrective surgery is usually the next option. The individual would most likely visit a podiatrist regularly to ensure the sucess of whichever therapy is used.



Are foot shapes passed down through heredity? Is there a defective gene that causes oddly-shaped feet?


Foot type is hereditary just like every other feature of our body. Thus, if your parents have flat feet then mosy likely you will, too unless it is corrected during childhood. There is no one identifiable defective gene that relates solely to the foot. However, such conditions such as clubfoot may have a genetic correlation yielding mal-development of osseous(bony) and muscular structures.



How are calluses and bunions formed? Can they cause serious damage? How can they be removed?


Calluses and corns are formed by hardened skin the body produces to protect that portion of the bone that is experiencing abnormally high pressure. These are usually signs of biochemical malformations of the feet. The calluses can be removed by debridement(surgical removal) with a blade, but the best way to stop the formation is to correct the underlying osseous problem. Normally, they will not cause serious damage but can be painful if the skin gets too thick. However, ina neuropathic(suffering from nerve disease) patient, like an uncontrolled diabetic, they may not feel any pain and the skin could break down into an ulcer(a break in skin with a loss of surface tissue). The ulcer, if untreated, can lead to a whole host of other problems like bone infection, gang greene, or even amputation. Now a bunion is a completely different entity. A bunion occurs when the first metatarsal(foot bone) moves awatpy from the foot towards the midline of the body. Sequentially, the big toe will move toward the other toes because of the pull from muscles and ligaments. Bunions occurs in a misaligned foot, most commnly in flat feet. They don't cause serious damage but can be painful because of shoe pressure and are cosmetically disliked. They can be corrected by various surgical methods.






Kelly, Jocelyn    Internet interview

2005 October 30



caption: Here is a picture of what a bunion looks like via X-rays. As you can see, a bunion does have a major impact on the bones.