Did you ever have a dream of what you wanted to be when you grow up?
Many people have asked me why I became a Podiatrist. I always give the same answer. I became a Podiatrist so I could do medical mission work and help people with foot deformities in Third world countries. That’s it. It’s a simple response. A simple purpose. One that I’ve had since I was a child. Somehow, I always knew that I would become a doctor. I actually didn’t always think I would become a Podiatrist though. There was even a time when my Mom suggested I become a Podiatrist when I was in college and I thought, “yeah right, no thanks! That’s not going to happen, I’ll stick to my plan of becoming an obstetrician.” Well, sure enough… I ended up a few years later in school to be a Podiatrist! I had met a doctor who loved what he did, he was very enthusiastic and introduced me to his style of practice and how he treated all types of patients, including children with foot deformities. I was sold. I decided I would become a specialist in all things foot and ankle! I’m so thankful I did.
There are many aspects of being a Podiatrist that I love (having worked in private practice and in a hospital environment). It’s fun to have patients walk into the clinic in pain and almost all of them leave feeling better. It’s fun to work with other wonderful doctors and nurses, to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. I love helping athletes get back on the court, ballerinas back on stage and moms back to chasing their kids around the park. But there is something that is even more rewarding. It’s the experience of seeing a child that is unable to run or play soccer with their friends and knowing I have the ability to help them.
On one of the trips I made to South America I met a little girl in an orphanage who had been beaten in the leg so badly it severed her Peroneal nerve, the nerve that runs along the outside of the lower leg. This trauma in turn created a clubfoot, which she had lived with for years. When I met her she was wearing flip flops. Somehow she had mastered limping in them even though she “walked” on the outside of her turned in foot. Her one wish was to be able to play soccer. After some tendon transfers and a foot reconstruction, she got her wish! Right there in the middle of the Amazon jungle, in the very place where she once was unable to walk… she is now playing soccer with her friends!
Stories like this are why I know my specialty is especially for me!
We as healthcare providers who have been trained with exceptional residencies, can give a little of our time to teach natives in indigenous communities what we know, so many can be cured!
I look forward to the future of healthcare with new technological advancements and virtual medicine, but mostly I look forward to the future where no child has to sit on the sidelines and watch because of an untreated deformity.
Follow your dreams!
♡ Dr. Ashley