My name is Levi Smith. I have been a team member at Pueblo Ankle and Foot Care since January of 2016. My time has been spent both in insurance and medical assisting and I am now the lead medical assistant for the office. Currently, I am preparing to leave Pueblo for Podiatry School starting at the end of July this year.
Getting into Podiatry School has not been an easy task. During my time at CSU-Pueblo where I received my Bachelor’s degree in Science with a Pre-Medical Emphasis in 2017, I came to the realization from various medical experiences that I wanted to work in healthcare, preferably as a doctor. At the time I was also working for Pueblo Ankle and Foot Care, spending much of my time with Dr.’s Marble, Maurer, Lewis, and later Pfau. Each of them have been fantastic teachers and examples of caregivers and knowledgeable, well studied men that I am working to be. After speaking with the doctors and doing research on my decision, I decided that yes, I would work hard pursue a career as a doctor.
At that time, it meant that I needed to make a decision about what kind of doctor I wanted to be. For me, I had three choices; MD, DO, or DPM like the doctors I work for. MD and DO at first appealed to me more than DPM. I believed that I wanted my options to be open and for some reason that I would have more opportunities to practice in the ways that I wanted to if I became an MD or a DO. It wasn’t until one day that I really sat down and thought to myself, “What if I became a podiatrist?” that I really came to the conclusion that Podiatry would be best for me. Podiatrists do all of the things that I would want to do including surgery, dermatology, pathology, radiology and multiple other subspecialities that Podiatrists are well trained to work with on a daily basis. As a Podiatrist I would be able to do exactly what I wanted to do and then some! So that led me to the next step.
The MCAT test. I don’t mean to cause others fear or anxiety for the test who may be pursing a medical career as well but it is not something to be taken lightly. I, myself, took the test three times. The test is scored based on how you perform against all of the other people taking the test at the same time as you. It is based on a score range from 472 to 528, 500 being the 50th percentile. Your score is a compound of scores from four different sections. Those sections are 1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, 2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, 3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and 4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.
Do those titles sound intimidating? Well they are. My first time taking the test was scary to say the least. I was nervous going in. I knew what to expect and had studied hard and had even taken practice tests but it was still nerve-wracking. Your test starts at 8:00 AM sharp and my closest testing center was 45 minutes away so it was a bit of an early morning for me. On the first section of the test you are given 95 minutes. Then you take a 10 minute break before starting into the next section immediately. The second section is 90 minutes long after which you take a 30 minute break for lunch. Then you take the next section which is 95 minutes long followed by another 10 minute break. Finally you take the last section which lasts 95 minutes also. If you are doing the math, this is just over 7 hours of testing. It makes for a long, exhausting day. Each time I took the test I left needing a Mountain Dew and a nap. The first time I took the test, I scored a 493. Remember that 500 is 50th percentile so 493 is not all that great. Average acceptance for MD schools is typically above 510. For DO it is between 506 and 510 usually. For DPM schools the average is a bit lower but still higher than my score of 493. I knew I would need to take the test again and I knew I could do better. Round 2. I had taken my first test right at the end of my Senior year of college (2017, and very poor timing on my part). My goal was to get a score that was good enough to use to apply for the 2018-2019 school year. My low score changed that plan a little bit. I signed up, then, to take the test again in September of 2017 at which time I scored a 500.
When I got my score, it was bitter sweet. I had wanted to score higher but I was still proud of how I did. I knew I had worked hard and had earned that score. However, I felt that I could do even better. Third time is charm right? Okay maybe not. I took the test again in spring of 2018 with the intent to apply for Podiatry school for the 2019-2020 school year. I did not score higher on the third test, only getting a 498 but I was still proud of the work that I had put in. Following the final test, I promptly and maliciously destroyed my study guide text book…okay no I just threw it away but it sure felt good. (Giant MCAT letters in bold writing still scare me to this day.) Finally, July/August of 2018 came around marking the opening of applications for the 9 podiatry schools in the US. I applied to four of them which were Midwestern University in Arizona, Dr. William M. School College of Podiatric Medicine at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Sciences in Chicago (Dr. Marble’s school), Kent State University in Ohio, and finally Des Moines University in Des Moines, Iowa where Dr. Pfau and Dr. Lewis both graduated from. The Podiatry school application service made the applications a little easier since I was able to fill out one application for all four schools.
Granted, each school did request a couple more documents however, none of them required secondary applications. After a couple of weeks, emails started showing up asking for me to interview at the school. Each of them responded to my application with an interview request. Obviously, I was thrilled. I had scheduled to interview first at Des Moines University which was my number one pick followed by Arizona a few weeks later. I remember the drive like it was yesterday because I was so NERVOUS! I was also confident and excited for the opportunity but there were definitely some nerves. It was a long drive from Pueblo to Des Moines (about 11.5 hours) to run worst case scenarios in my head about the interview and what kind of the questions they would ask me. I arrived in Des Moines the night before and was at the school early for the interview day the next morning. I had a great time getting to know the other interviewees who were just as nervous and excited as I was.
The first thing we did that morning was talk to the Dean of the Podiatry school, Dr. Yoho which was an awesome experience. He gave us a lot of great information about Des Moines, what we could expect as students and what would be expected of us. All the while, I’m thinking, “I definitely want to go to school here.” Following the meet and greet we prepared for interviews and of course, I was the last one on the list to interview. (One of the perks of having the last name Smith, I guess.) The first set of interviewees came out and said that the interview was really laid back and comfortable so that helped ease my anxiety a little bit. Finally, my turn came around and I realized that they were right. Lo and behold, my interviewer was named Dr. Smith. Go figure huh? He was a great guy to talk to and he starts the interview by asking me the question, “So with your experience at Pueblo Ankle and Foot Care, tell about a time where you had to work with a difficult patient. Explain why they were difficult and how you dealt with the patient.” I was completely taken aback. The last couple nights I had been preparing for questions like, “Why do you want to be a doctor?” or “What makes you stand out above all of our other applicants?” All the questions were completely out of the ordinary and were tailored to me personally. I loved it and felt like I was important enough to be interviewed more personally about my experiences and not just about me as an applicant.
My interview ended and I spoke with Dr. Smith a little longer about Dr. Pfau and how he remembered him from when he was a student. It was comfortable from start to finish. Needless to say I was totally relieved to have it completed but very excited to see what their decision would be. (I’ll get to that.) The rest of the day consisted of lunch (which was very delicious after not being able to eat well for 24 hours because of nerves) and touring the school. Okay so now for a bit of a shocker. The school was amazing. I loved it and was impressed by the library and study rooms, the clinic on campus, the bio-mechanics lab, and the anatomy lab… Okay the anatomy lab scared me. We just happened to be there on brain day apparently which was a bit overwhelming but incredible at the same time. Following the tour we were told we could take pictures of the campus or ask questions but otherwise we were finished for the day and we would hear from the school on their decision within the next month or so. I just remember feeling so great about the campus and falling it love with it the more time that I spent there that day. I didn’t want to leave. It was time to go home though so I said goodbye to the other candidates and started my long drive home.
Sometime within the next few weeks I got a call. I remember that I saw that the call was from Des Moines so I ran into my daughter’s bedroom in our apartment (it was a quiet room at that moment) and took the call. They had told me that I was accepted to the school!!! I was so happy I could barely finish the call with any sense of formality. Since then it has been a process of paperwork and filling out various forms for the school and finances, but I am so excited to be going to Des Moines University to become a Podiatrist this year. It is an opportunity that I do not take lightly but I am thrilled to pursue.