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Learning to Heal the Diabetic Foot

Podiatric medical students are learning by the side of Stephanie Wu, DPM, MSc, FACFAS, nationally recognized for her research in limb preservation and the treatment of diabetic wounds.

"It's an experience words can't describe," said Jessica Hoffstatter, SCPM '21. "Everyone knows that when Dr. Wu is in clinic we see wounds that we don't see with anybody else. From day one we've learned about diabetes. But with diabetic wounds, you can't fully understand the impact on the patient until you see them in person."

Foot ulcers develop in an estimated 9 million to 26 million people with diabetes worldwide. The lower extremity accounts for $58 billion in diabetes care per year, said Dr. Wu, professor in the Department of Podiatric Surgery and Applied Biomechanics. "That doesn't include indirect costs — loss of employment and productivity, decreased quality of life, or pain and suffering."

The early clinical exposure through the Scholl Foot & Ankle Center at Rosalind Franklin University Health Clinics enhances students' clinical skills, fosters interprofessionalism and helps develop empathy.

"Students learn in didactic classes how and why these wounds develop, but interactions in the clinic allow them to learn the patient perspective on the disease, how they're suffering, and that enhances their ability to be better doctors going forward," Dr. Wu said.

"I appreciate the opportunity to sit down with patients," Jessica said. "I want to understand their outlook. They're putting their trust in us to help. They're putting their lives in our hands. Our first priority is letting them know we care."

Posted April 16
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