President's Perspective May 2012

Michelle ButterworthMentorship: A Young Member Perspective
By Michelle L. Butterworth, DPM, FACFAS, President
Do you remember being a medical student? I recall during my first couple of years at the Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine, I was constantly studying to get through classes and make the grade. I didn’t think much beyond my next exam and I certainly didn’t understand the intricacies involved with getting a residency. As my eyes were opened to the many different aspects of our profession, my interest in foot and ankle surgery grew, and my goal was to obtain a podiatric surgical residency, which at that time were limited. Fortunately, I had some great mentors in those early years to guide me and keep me focused through the arduous residency process and I was able to achieve my goal. Without these great role models however, the result may have been quite different.
During my four years of residency at the University of Pennsylvania Health Systems/ Presbyterian Medical Center I obtained a well-rounded medical education and was able to perfect my surgical skills. But, did it prepare me for life beyond residency? Although my residency provided top-notch education and training, it was not all encompassing, and my mentors became vital once again as I planned my future.
In the infamous words of Dr. Seuss, “It’s not about what it is but what it can become.” Today’s students and residents are tomorrow’s surgeons and leaders. Students and residents need role models beyond the classrooms, clinics, and ORs to assist in their life training. Mentorship is vital to our young members and our profession as a whole.
ACFAS realizes the importance of our young members and is actively involved with mentorship. Each member on the Board of Directors is a liaison to one of the podiatric medical schools. The directors visit the schools and spend personal time with the students providing academic lectures, clinical advice, and guidance on life beyond school. Our Divisions are also focused on student and resident education and mentorship providing lectures, hands-on workshops, and sage advice throughout the year.
The College fosters academic development among our young members and understands their financial constraints. We provide monetary support to our student surgical clubs and give scholarships to our Annual Scientific Conference. At our conference, young members experience educational sessions devoted specifically for them, participate in round table discussions and have many opportunities to network and interact socially among our profession’s educators and leaders. We also understand the challenges our young members face and ACFAS actively supports residency development and provides financial support for the national residency facilitator.
I’m proud to say ACFAS has become home to many students and residents during these early, formative years and our young membership continues to increase. I’m currently the liaison to the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine and I can honestly say that being a mentor has been some of my most gratifying work. If you are currently not a mentor, it’s time for you to become involved. Do for them what others have done for you. Don’t underestimate the influence you can have over our young members. Here’s a quote from a student at TUSPM that demonstrates the importance of ACFAS mentorship.
“ACFAS has always been a positive and tremendously influential experience for me. It has shown me what possibilities exist within the realm of foot and ankle surgery, connecting me with people committed to advancing the profession in countless ways and whose doors are always open to students. Without a doubt, I owe much of where I am today and what I intend to do with my career to the College.” — Jeremy Walters
In his novel “Cutting for Stone,” Dr. AbrahamVerghese states home is not where you are from, but where you are wanted. To all students and residents striving for excellence in foot and ankle surgery, I say welcome home. You are wanted by ACFAS. We realize that you are tomorrow’s future leaders and surgeons and we are ready to guide you. Come join our home of proven leaders and lifelong learners.
Questions for Dr. Butterworth? Write her at

Educational Opportunities