California Podiatric Medical Association President Stephen Wan, DPM, had some words of wisdom for College of Podiatric Medicine students at WesternU during his visit on Feb. 18, 2010.

Among his advice: Do your homework. Ask tough questions. Know how to network. And don’t decide on a career path too early. He made the mistake of deciding early in his education to focus on surgery, Wan said.

“”It’s too early in the process to make that decision,”” he said. “”Don’t get your mind made up so quickly.””

He also told them to get out of their comfort zone, advice that applies to all aspects of their life.

“”If you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you’re not growing,”” Wan said.

Rather than eating lunch with classmates, which is in their comfort zone, he suggested meeting students from other disciplines.

“”This is a good time to start the networking process,”” Wan said. “”Make friends with other disciplines. The more you know about what others do, the more complete your education is.””

Students should then pick a residency that is training-center based, where other disciplines are also being trained. This will help build their network of professional contacts, which can lead to referrals, and will teach them how to make things happen.

Wan talks with members of Congress about issues that are important to podiatrists. He is much more comfortable walking down hospital hallways than the halls of Congress, but he pushes himself out of his comfort zone to improve patient care and the profession.

“”You’re the next generation,”” he said. “”I’m relying on you to take on the system and make it better.””

Wan also spoke at the College of Podiatric Medicine’s first white coat ceremony.

“”What he did was he connected the ingredients for success,”” said College of Podiatric Medicine Founding Dean Lawrence Harkless, DPM. “”It’s not just being in the classroom and learning, it’s about relationships and how they connect.””

Students were appreciative of the talk.

“”It’s good to hear from someone who knows the ropes,”” said Chris Jones, DPM ’13. “”It’s good to know there are people behind the scenes working hard. Otherwise, there would be no progression.””