Podiatrist: Denise Mandi
Dr. Denise Mandi, DPM

Since 1990

Dr. Denise Mandi
Years in School:
Broadlawns Medical Center, Des Moines
Years in Profession:

1. Why did you choose to become a podiatrist?

I was originally a biomechanical engineering major and wanted to design artificial joints and limbs. Then I decided that I’d rather put them in than design them, working with people rather than computers. I also wanted to be a surgeon and podiatry had the shortest residency of all surgical specialties, so I could get into the operating room sooner!

2. What is your typical work day like?

I work in a hospital as a staff podiatrist/surgeon. I may be in clinic seeing patients or on the floor visiting the patients who are in the hospital, perhaps in the emergency room attending to a trauma patient or in the operating room doing surgery. I am also the Section Chief of Foot & Ankle Surgery and the President-Elect of the Medical Staff, so I spend some of my time in meetings as well.

3. What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?

The most rewarding part of my job is helping my patients to live their lives without pain. The most challenging part of my job is trying to find ways to help people who don’t always have insurance or the money to pay for the care or medications that they need.

4. What is the biggest myth or misconception about your career or field?

That podiatrists are not “real doctors”. We are simply doctors who specialize in treating the lower leg and foot.

5. What steps did you take in high school and college to help prepare you for your career?

In high school, I took a math and a science class every year. In college, I started out as an engineering major and didn’t decide to go to medical school until halfway through my senior year. I had a lot of calculus, physics, etc., that I didn’t need. Once I changed my major to biology, I took all of the courses that were required for admission to medical school.

6. What did you find difficult during your career preparation? How did you overcome these obstacles?

Once I got into biology in college, things were very easy for me because I enjoyed what I was doing. Once I started medical school, the workload was much heavier, so I had to be careful about managing my time well. But, if you stay on top of your assignments, there is plenty of time for play as well. During med school, I planted a garden each spring, found time to ride and show horses, etc.

7. What do you see as the strengths and skills needed to succeed in your career?

You need to like what you do. If you have a curious mind, a strong work ethic and like working with and helping people, you could make a good doctor. If you are good with your hands, detail-oriented and mechanically-minded, you could make a good surgeon. No matter what, you have got to be willing to never stop learning.

8. What advice would you offer to students interested in pursuing a career as a podiatrist?

Spend time with some podiatrists, and not just one, to see what their job is like and get some advice about how to get into podiatry school. Contact the podiatry schools and find out what courses are required for admission and get a sample of the classes that you’ll be taking in podiatry school.

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