Dr. Jane Andersen is a podiatric physician and surgeon practicing in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She and her husband share a private practice where they treat a wide variety of patients, including athletes, children, adults and the elderly.
Dr. Andersen is board certified in foot surgery by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery, serves on the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Public Education and Information Committee, and is on the executive board of the American Association for Women Podiatrists.
After receiving her undergraduate degree in biology from Indiana University, Dr. Andersen obtained her Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from the California College of Podiatric Medicine in San Francisco, California, and completed residency programs at Stanford University Medical Center and at DVAMC Palo Alto. In addition to these professional accomplishments, Dr. Andersen is also the mother of two young daughters.
In a recent interview, Dr. Andersen shared her thoughts and advice on the pursuit and practice of podiatric medicine.
How would you describe a typical day at work?
I usually see patients in the office between 8:00am and 4:30pm. I consult with patients, read x-rays, cast for orthotics, and do several types of small procedures including injections, ingrown toenails, biopsies and palliative care. Usually, one afternoon a week, I am doing surgery at the surgery center or hospital. At the end of each day, I get caught up on charting and answer phone calls from patients. I usually end up going home between 5:30pm and 6:30pm.
If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a doctor?
Yes, I enjoy helping people. I need that sort of positive feedback in my daily life.
Why did you choose your specialty?
I chose podiatric medicine because I thought it was a great way to do a variety of things: surgery, conservative care, pediatrics, rheumatology, dermatology, orthopedics. It is a very broad field that is geographically limited to the foot and ankle. I also like not being in life and death situations.
Do you feel that your specialty has met your expectations?
Yes, I have experienced all types of practice as a podiatric physician. There are many ways to serve the community in this profession, and many ways to meet your goals and expectations.
Are you satisfied with your income?
Yes, although it took me a while to get to this point. I anticipate that it will continue to improve over the next several years.
What do you like the most and the least about your specialty?
What I like the most is when I can help people walk, run, dance, and exercise pain free. What I like least is the charting!
Have you found paying back your educational loans to be a financial strain?
Now it is not a strain, but it was in the beginning. It was more difficult when I had young children in daycare. I will be paying for many years to come, largely because my husband has loans also.
Generally, what is your daily sleep schedule, your weekly work schedule, and your annual vacation schedule?
I sleep from 6.5-7.5 hours per night, I work from 35-40 hours per week, and I usually take between 2-3 weeks of vacation per year.
Do you feel that you have enough time to spend with your family?
Yes, my husband is also a podiatric physician, and we practice together. We have two daughters, ages 9 and 6. I have a certain amount of flexibility with my schedule since we are self-employed, so I can make time to be a part of their lives.
If you could go back ten years, what advice would you give to yourself?
I would say don’t be afraid to be in practice by yourself, and don’t be afraid to move on if a situation is not meeting your expectations.
What advice do you wish you had been given when you were a pre-med?
Don’t sweat the small stuff! What your major is may not have any bearing or influence on your success in medical school. Study in order to learn something interesting, even if it doesn’t directly relate to your final career choice. (Of course, take the appropriate pre-med requirements.)
From your perspective, what is the biggest problem in healthcare today?
Insurance. It is too complicated. While our expenses go up, insurance reimbursements go down.
What do you believe is the biggest problem within your own specialty?
Lack of public understanding about what we are trained to do. My community is fairly well informed, but many are not.
What is the best way to prepare for your specialty?
Visit a podiatrist’s office on more than one occasion. See if it is a lifestyle and specialty that seems interesting to you. You can contact APMA to make arrangements to shadow a podiatric physician at email@example.com.
Where do you see your specialty in ten years?
On par with every other medical specialty in terms of how we are perceived by the public.
What types of outreach or volunteer work do you do?
I serve on the Public Education & Information Committee of the American Podiatric Medical Association. Working with the committee allows me to help podiatrists achieve the goal of educating the public about our abilities. I also serve on the Board of the American Association for Women Podiatrists. On occasion I speak with local medical groups, and I also help educate undergraduate students on podiatric medicine as part of the DPM Mentor Network.
What is the greatest misunderstanding about your specialty?
There is a misunderstanding of our abilities. Many people don’t realize we do all types of foot and ankle surgery.
What is your favorite TV show? Also, what do you do in your spare time, outside of work?
“24” is my favorite show. We’re glued to it every week. Other activities include playing with our kids, walking, jogging, reading, shopping and traveling.
Do you have any final thoughts or advice that you would like to add?
There are many opportunities in podiatric medicine: working in a hospital (teaching or otherwise), teaching at a podiatric medical college, multi-specialty group practice, group podiatric practice and solo practice. There are also many different areas to specialize in: diabetes, pediatrics, sports medicine, geriatric care, surgery and general podiatric medicine. Opportunities are endless, and the profession can offer a great lifestyle.