Practice Perfect - PRESENT Podiatry
Practice Perfect
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Reinvigoration with Resident Training

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Jarrod Shapiro
doctor and residents

Recently I’ve been working with a friend to set up a new podiatric rotation for my residents at the Chino Valley Medical Center program. We’ve made great strides with building strong podiatric experiences for my residents, but I’m always looking for more, especially with colleagues like my friend who are incredible educators besides being world-class physicians and surgeons. After a conversation with this friend the other night, I was reminded what a treasure it is to have people to work with who are so interested in education.

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For those of you in practice and not involved with resident education, let me take this time to convince you why it’s in your best interest to join those of us working in the education field.


“Watching my residents go from novices in their first year to independent podiatrists in their third is simply the most rewarding aspect of anything I do.”


We Need Your Help!

First, let me say, “We need you!” I’ll be honest and tell you that education is very hard work. As a podiatrist teaching both students and residents of all levels, I work very hard and very long hours to create the best experiences I can for my trainees. The direct teaching part (lectures, workshops, journal clubs, etc.) is the easy part. That’s fun. Seeing the light of understanding and interest in a student’s or resident’s eye is the reason I teach. Watching my residents go from novices in their first year to independent podiatrists in their third is simply the most rewarding aspect of anything I do.


“What better way to learn than to teach!”


But on the flip side, the single hardest thing to do is build relationships and new rotation opportunities for them. It’s often a grueling process that requires traveling, lots of meetings, tons of administrative work that makes my hair grey, and the need to deal with personalities and egos of all sorts. Podiatrists can be tough nuts to crack! We have our opinions, our needs and wants, and may desire something that is at odds with a resident’s needs for education. It isn’t easy to balance everyone’s needs.

Here’s where you come in. None of us educators can do our jobs without your help. It would be literally impossible for me to have a residency program without the involvement and dedication of so many clinicians and healthcare institutions. Without having a variety of surgeons and their patient cases, my residents would not have the surgical experiences to be adequately trained. Without the involvement of the various medical attendings, my residents wouldn’t have a behavioral health rotation, or a musculoskeletal MRI rotation, or a PM&R rotation, among others. My program, as do all of the others in the country, exist solely on the beneficence of those individuals who agree to work with our trainees. They take the time to teach, to let residents scrub in to their cases, and to mentor. For those of you who help in this manner, know that you are valued and you have our gratitude.

Besides directly teaching, the relationships with attendings is important for another reason: building opportunities. For example, several of the rotations where my residents do literally hundreds to thousands of surgical cases, are in existence because my direct colleagues knew someone who knew someone who was interested in teaching. Some of these rotations would otherwise not exist because I didn’t initially know the person interested in helping. Being introduced to those wonderful people created the relationships necessary to build the rotations. This is exactly the case with my colleague I spoke with the other night. His desire to be involved with my residency is the catalyst to potentially working with another group of excellent docs. I’ll bet you any amount of money that you know someone – or you are that someone – who can help your nearby residency program with new opportunities for rotations or academics. Your involvement with a residency program will only make that program better.

Being Involved with Education Can Help You!

There are lots of benefits to being involved with a residency program. Let’s run through a few.

  1. Keepin’ it Fresh - Working with young, vibrant, interested residents keeps you young and sharp. Their passion dissolves the crust of experience many of us have. Looking through their eyes makes you see the world just a little differently. 
  2. Staying Interested - When I was in practice, before coming to California, I was starting to get bored. I didn’t have people to bounce ideas off and with whom I could discuss new topics. Now I’m surrounded by people who love podiatry and want to help people walk. 
  3. Staying Current - A friend recently mentioned to me that she wanted to read more journal articles, but being in practice and having no one with which to interact made this difficult. Being involved with residents motivates us to stay current. What better way to learn than to teach! 
  4. Indirect Monetary Profits - Now I don’t think you should ask for pay to help your local residency, but having a resident involved in your practice can actually be profitable. For example, having a resident can potentially move your surgical schedule along faster. With the right set up, you can scrub out of a case and have the resident close, while you dictate or get the next patient ready. That may allow for more cases to be scheduled in a day. In some cases, residents can help in clinic. I don’t advocate using residents for labor, but there is a natural benefit that occurs when an experienced, well-trained resident helps you. 
  5. Cachet -There’s a certain reputation and social effect that occurs from working with trainees. Many patients think I’m better than I am because I teach residents and students. They think I’m more important and a better doctor and surgeon because I’m special enough to teach. In reality, I’m an average podiatrist who likes to teach. I’m no different from any of you, but it surely doesn’t hurt my practice for my patients to know I teach. 
  6. Future Associates and Partners - Where is your next associate or partner going to come from? When your practice grows, and you want to make more money, where are you going to find that person to help make that happen? They don’t grow on trees. They graduate from residency programs. What better way to find your next associate than to be training them during their residency? You’ll have direct input into their skills and the opportunity to conduct a three year long hands-on interview. It’s training your next partner for free! 

“There is no better mutually beneficial relationship in medicine than the professional community working together with the education community.”


If you’re not currently involved with a residency, know that you’re very badly needed. They rely on you for their very existence. You have the power to help them get better and grow. Residency Directors can’t do it on our own. We need your help. And you need our help too. There is no better mutually beneficial relationship in medicine than the professional community working together with the education community. Let’s all help each other grow. Join in. Call your local residency director and take the step. You won’t regret it.

Best Wishes.
Jarrod Shapiro Signature
Jarrod Shapiro, DPM
PRESENT Practice Perfect Editor
jarrod@podiatry.com
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