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Podiatrist Interview
Questions

20 Questions and Answers by D. Leo

Question 1 of 20

What type of surgery did you find to be the most difficult during your residency?

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Podiatrist Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    What type of surgery did you find to be the most difficult during your residency?

      This is an interesting question, because it tiptoes gingerly between asking what you found challenging and what you weren't particularly good at. Be careful here, especially if a particular type is a surgery done at the institution where you're interviewing. You want to come up with something, but you want to make it sound that the challenge was not because of you, but because of the complexity inherent in the surgery.

      D.'s Answer

      "I found lapiplasty for hammertoe difficult to accept over conventional surgery because my patients claimed the recovery was just as difficult as the time-honored way; it's supposed to reduce recurrences, but I'm not convinced of that."

      D.'s Answer

      "Whenever I had difficulty in a surgery during my residency, it would be because of inexperience. Therefore, any surgery I was doing for the first few times would be difficult until I gained enough expertise to perform it comfortably with little or no assistance from my supervising surgeons."

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  2. 2.

    Why do you think you will be the best podiatrist for our office?

      This is a stupid question, the kind we love to hate, but that doesn't mean it won't be asked. It's one of those 'rah-rah' type questions that asks you to demonstrate your verve and vigor, when the best podiatrist for someone's office is usually any podiatrist who strives to do his or her best. Don't say you're going to be the best, because that means you feel you're going to do better than everyone else, which is obnoxious. Instead, enthuse about how you want to do your best, always, for everyone and then come what may for any bogus type of ranking in the interviewer's eyes.

      D.'s Answer

      "I am not applying here because I think I'll be the best or better than everyone else; I'm applying because the people you have here will make me better and inspire me to push beyond my personal best."

      D.'s Answer

      "I can't be responsible for how my colleagues are viewed--only myself. In this way, I don't come in to be the best, but to do my best."

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  3. 3.

    In your view, what does podiatry offer that other health professions do not?

      This is another stab at separating podiatry from the 'mainstream' specialties. You chose podiatry for a reason, so you should have no difficulty answering this question with what you see as its clear advantages, e.g., sub-specialization, focused clinical approaches, and its interaction with the so-called 'mainstream' specialties.

      D.'s Answer

      "All one need do is look at diabetes to see where the so called 'mainstream' specialties end and podiatry begins. Mainstream medicine often stops at a certain point and doesn't follow through on the full impact of the pathology. If a patient cannot walk, due to diabetic foot ulcers, there can be no victory in, for example, reducing a hemoglobin 1Ac."

      D.'s Answer

      "Every health profession has its interesting work as well as its uninteresting, less glamorous work. For some reason, other specialties seem to stop at the feet, whose less glamorous aspects are no less than those of gastroenterology, for example. To love your specialty, you take the bad with the good, and sometimes you will find a fascinating connection after all, especially when it is missed by others."

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  4. 4.

    What are your views on socialized medicine?

      This is a trick question for two reasons--first, socialized medicine may be either good or bad for the entity where you're interviewing, so you don't want to declare on the side of their perceived political enemy; and second, it's a trick because there is no right answer--it's a question that is bigger than you and them. Be benevolent to socialized medicine in your answer without taking a side.

      D.'s Answer

      "I'm a fan of capitalism, but that doesn't mean I'm blind to its faults. One of the things that favors the implementation of socialized medicine is the sizable underserved population, which a social approach would improve. So far, capitalism has embraced the concept while still trying to stay within its own philosophy, so some things have worked and others have not. As a practicing podiatrist, I can only adjust to the things that work."

      D.'s Answer

      "No one system can be all things. I see socialized medicine as having many advantages that can be incorporated into our current for-profit system. If we do it right, we can get the best of both."

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  5. 5.

    Do you think you have enough podiatry experience for this level of physician employment?

      This is a trick question, similar to 'What are your weaknesses in practicing podiatry' or 'Where do you feel you need the most improvement.' Look this question in the eye (or the mouth) and declare that, of course, you have the experience you need. Remember, you're interviewing for a job. Don't give the interviewer the idea that you shouldn't get it.

      D.'s Answer

      "I feel my training was excellent and I am comfortable addressing anything a patient may present with, in my field of podiatry."

      D.'s Answer

      "I know that any medical field is a continuing medical education, and I pride myself in keeping up with the literature to assure me that I'm practicing state-of-the-art podiatry. So, yes, I do have enough experience, and I'm proud to day that my expertise is continually improving, too."

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  6. 6.

    Tell me about an error you made while performing a procedure, during your residency program.

      For this question you want to admit you're fallible, but you also want to make sure no one thinks you're dangerous. (Saying you operated on the wrong foot one time might be a deal-breaker!) Come up with a mistake anyone could make and then impress upon the interviewer how you took steps to prevent anything similar form ever happening again.

      D.'s Answer

      "Once, on a very busy day, I had three patients in a row who were having local anesthesia and surgical trimming for ingrown nails. The charts were mixed up and during my treating the first patient I called him by the second patient's name. The patient became concerned that I didn't know his case and left the office. From then on, I always included pictures of my patients in the chart, which helped make things unmistakeable for me about patients I didn't yet know well. I was sure to write that patient a letter of apology and simply explain how the mistake happened."

      D.'s Answer

      "During my residency, I was asked to put in a nerve block. I used 2% xylocaine with epinephrine and the patient began having palpitations for which the surgery had to be canceled. In re-examining her chart, I found that she had a history of adverse reactions to epinephrine in a dentist's office in the past. This should have caught my eye. Now I always pay special attention to any allergies, adverse reactions, or side effects listed."

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  7. 7.

    How do you think that ICD-10 will affect your level of patient care?

      The ICD-10 is the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification. Many of the podiatry ICD-9 codes have been revised for the ICD-10 and will have to be correctly applied for smooth billing and collections. However, any electronic medical record system that has a billing component should do that automatically. The only people affected will be podiatrists who do their billing manually through a third party. As far as your 'level of patient care,' know that your level of care should be impervious to changes like this, remaining--of course--ideal and to the best of your ability. Sometimes simplest is best.

      D.'s Answer

      "It won't affect the level of my care at all."

      D.'s Answer

      "The only change will be that I will make sure I'm coding correctly--neither upcoding, which could be seen as fraud, nor downcoding, which will deprive me of legitimately earned fees."

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  8. 8.

    When did you first decide you wanted to be a physician?

      Don't just say what age you were. Most interviewers, in wanting to get to know you better, want to hear some anecdote that moved you toward being a healer.

      D.'s Answer

      "I've been very invested in athletics since I was young, and the usual injuries that come with that have given me an appreciation for the maintenance of the human body such that I wanted to be part of that science and expertise."

      D.'s Answer

      "My father [alternatively, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, mother, cousin, etc.] was/is a podiatrist, and my exposure to him [her] and conversations with him [her] motivated me to get into the healthcare field as early as high school."

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  9. 9.

    Why are you interested in podiatry?

      You should answer this as Podiatry being your first choice, not something you fell back on as a second choice. (Some do!) You should show your enthusiasm for the science and the specialty itself.

      D.'s Answer

      "I've always been impressed by the mechanical function of the foot, which is very complex and crucial in our orientation in space and for movement from one place to another. Podiatry offers this unique perspective of care."

      D.'s Answer

      "I like doing surgery, and I especially like the fact that the surgery done will determine whether someone can walk or not. Ambulation is important as a significant factor in well-being, and podiatry allows me to fix simple things immediately and complex things, although taking longer, with resolution of a serious problem."

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  10. 10.

    Why did you choose podiatry instead of allopathic medical school?

      This is an interesting question, in that it labels podiatry as different from 'mainstream' (allopathic) medicine. Thus, the interviewer wants to know why you, having recognized this dichotomy, chose podiatry instead of what is considered mainstream medicine. Instead of reading this question as possibly insulting, you should be proud of your expertise and indicate in your answer that there are no inferiority issues such as those propagated by the self-appointed 'mainstream' physicians.

      D.'s Answer

      "To me, being a DPM really is mainstream medicine--no different from an ophthalmologist for the eye--compared to any other MD or DO. It is also not considered an alternative approach, since it uses sound evidence-based medicine as its rationale in the things that are treated."

      D.'s Answer

      "This distinction, in my opinion, may come off as derogatory to some; for those, I can only say they are unaware of a podiatrist's vast tool chest of skills that includes surgery and medical approaches. If a person has a painful or serious foot condition, it doesn't matter to whom he or she goes, but whether the problem is fixed or not, and the podiatrist is trained to do just that."

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  11. 11.

    What did you learn from the podiatrists you shadowed?

      You want to answer this question by telling your interviewer--not what you learned from the podiatrists you shadowed--but what kind of physician you've become because of insights you've gleaned from them. In other words, you don't want to say you have learned how to do a good physical exam like they do, but that you have fine-tuned your thoroughness in your own physical exams because of having shadowed them. It's not a question of quantity learned, but quality, after having shadowed them.

      D.'s Answer

      "I do my exams and evaluations much differently now since I've shadowed my podiatrist mentors. I've had the benefit of assimilating into my own protocols all of the best aspects from a variety of podiatrists--all with their own style."

      D.'s Answer

      "I've learned to be a doctor who listens to his [her] patients. Before shadowing other podiatrists, I was in too much of a hurry, just wanting to get the facts. Now I get a lot more facts from listening to patients' full stories."

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  12. 12.

    Why are you interested in our school/program?

      They are looking for flattery here, so flatter your interviewer. Before the interview, look up what the 'Mission Statement' or 'Vision' reads on their website. Then simply state how you know their values are [such and such, paraphrasing their Mission Statement and/or Vision], and that their values align with yours. You can also cite what demographic population seems to predominate in their program and how that applies with what aspect of podiatry you're most interested in.

      D.'s Answer

      "I know that your program champions the underserved, and I feel that this demographic has the most need for services like podiatry. Therefore, your values align perfectly with my own."

      D.'s Answer

      "You program has a reputation for its research, and in the field of podiatry, I have a special interest in foot disease due to peripheral vascular disease. So, I would like to be associated with a program that is heavy into research of this disease--both from the systemic and the foot standpoint."

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  13. 13.

    What do you know about our health care facility?

      You should do your homework before you interview. Browse the facility's website. Look at the credentials of their staff who will be your colleagues. With this question, the interviewer wants to accomplish two things: first, see that you're sharp enough to learn about their facility; second, offer an open invitation to flatter them, so do that.

      D.'s Answer

      "I know your facility has an excellent reputation in geriatric care, which is important for me as applied to podiatry. Because of this, I look forward to being a part of your staff."

      D.'s Answer

      "I am very impressed with the level of expertise of your staff, especially your podiatry physicians who will be my colleagues. They represent training from many parts of the country, so I know I will find fertile ground here for expanding my own expertise."

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  14. 14.

    What do you know about this community?

      If you've grown up in the community, you have it made: all you need do is tell them what you already know and explain how you intend to remain close with your family geographically as well as by maintaining a loving relationship. If you're from elsewhere, you should cite the beneficial aspects of the community (you could simply visit the town's marketing propaganda). However, you should find a way to explain how the community serves your interests and hobbies.

      D.'s Answer

      "There are many recreational areas, parks, and other outdoor venues in the community, and I would like to take advantage of the opportunities these areas offer."

      D.'s Answer

      "I know that there is a strong cultural presence here, based on the unique demographics. I want to learn as much as I can from that diversity--I would have a lot to gain."

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  15. 15.

    Tell me about a time when you disagreed with the lead physician. What was the problem, and how did you come to an agreement?

      This is more than just conflict resolution, but conflict resolution with a person superior to you. That adds additional drama as to whether you should champion your position which may cost favor with your superior. Life is short and you must choose your battles carefully, but the interviewer wants to hear that in disagreements which jeopardize patient care, you're willing to go down to the mat for that patient. Any of the sample answers can be modified with a specific anecdote you want to relate.

      D.'s Answer

      "If the disagreement were trivial, it is my place to obey my superior; if it were to have a major impact on the patient's health or safety, I would insist our disagreement go up the chain of command for a resolution in the patient's best interests."

      D.'s Answer

      "Since this is a disagreement with a superior, I would assume he or she has authority over me. I would ask him or her what options, among more than one, were available and see if I could reconcile my position to one of those."

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  16. 16.

    When have you felt the most pressure or stress, from rotations or residency? How did you handle it?

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  17. 17.

    If you couldn't be a physician, what is an alternate career path you had considered?

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  18. 18.

    What do you identify as weaknesses in your podiatry school education?

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  19. 19.

    Tell me about your schooling experience.

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  20. 20.

    Where do you see yourself in ten years?

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