Supported by :

20 Questions: David Tran DPM, MS

Last Updated on June 27, 2022 by Laura Turner

Dr. David Tran is a podiatrist in private practice in both San Francisco and Daly City, Calif., as well as assistant professor at the California School of Podiatric Medicine (CSPM) at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, where he teaches clinical podiatric medicine at Highland Hospital and runs a homeless clinic in San Francisco. Tran received a bachelor’s degree (Summa Cum Laude) in biochemistry and biology from San Francisco State University, then attended California School of Podiatric Medicine in San Francisco, where he earned a master’s degree in medical education, followed by a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) and then a podiatric surgical residency.
Dr. Tran also serves as associate director of admissions at CSPM, as well as special events chairperson and treasurer of the alumni and associates. He is also president of the San Francisco/San Mateo Podiatric Medicine Society component of California Podiatric Medical Association/American Podiatric Medical Association.
When did you first decide to become a podiatrist? Why?
I was first introduced to podiatric medicine and surgery when I was beginning to apply to allopathic medical school. Following the completion of my MCAT, I received literature about the profession and its many benefits and nuances. To gain a better understanding of the profession, I arranged to shadow a few local DPMs who were practicing close to my home. After seeing their work, their enjoyment of their profession/career, their great relationship with their patients, and their direct hands-on approach to medicine, I decided that this was a better medical career for me than general allopathic medicine.
How/why did you choose the podiatric medicine school you went to?
I researched all of the podiatric medical schools that were available nationwide at the time (eight in total), and weighed carefully all those attributes that best suited me as a student for my learning abilities and habits. School longevity and program strength/reputation/recognition were reassuring factors. Clinical training was also very important to me. The core determining factor for me was what could the school give me to take away with me after four years of a medical education, and less important was how “pretty” the school looked physically.
What surprised you the most about podiatric medicine school?
I had initially thought that podiatric medical school would be “easier” than traditional allopathic medical school, as the competition to get in was less due to not many people being aware of it. My advisors at undergraduate school certainly had never talked to me about the profession, and the rumors were that it would be easier. Well, the education was certainly rigorous and absolutely not easy. One of the many surprises was that I actually liked my medical schooling quite a lot. It was certainly hard, but there were also lots of moments of enjoyment.
If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a podiatrist? (Why or why not? What would you have done instead?)
I would do it all over again. There are many reasons as to why I would choose the same course again, but the most apparent is that I really like what I do/practice now. I enjoy waking up and going to work daily. I like my patients, and I like my teaching responsibilities. I think this was a very good career choice for me. I like medicine, I like to be able to make people feel better and know that it was by my hands that it was possible and not necessarily through a pill, and this career for the most part will permit me to do that. I am not necessarily writing prescriptions all day long.
Has being a podiatrist met your expectations? Why?
I believe so. Realistic expectations are key to being happy. If I can be happy for a significant part of the day doing my job and the result is making others feel better and happy, then it is worthwhile. My expectation(s) of a fulfilling career is one in which I would be happy in doing what I do. My current professional choice certainly fulfills that criteria.
What do you like most about being a podiatrist?
The ability to work with my hands, and knowing that I actually make my patients feel better as a result. It is extremely rewarding when patients tell you again and again that they look forward to coming in to see you because they know they will feel better when you are through treating them. Not many other medical careers can offer that nuance.
What do you like least about being a podiatrist?
The misconception that the public has about podiatric physicians through lack of understanding of our abilities and scope of practice.
What was it like finding a job in your chosen career field? What were your options and why did you decide what you did?
I was extremely fortunate to be able to obtain opportunities in private practice and in the educational arena. I joined a couple of practices as an independent contractor physician, and shortly thereafter obtained an appointment with the California School of Podiatric Medicine as part of the faculty team. I currently combine both of these opportunities in my weekly schedule. From a professional career options standpoint, I could have gone as a solo private practitioner, a full time independent contractor, an associate, or work for an HMO. I had always wanted to be a part of the academic arena, so when the opportunity arose that permitted me to combine private practice and education together, I took it.
Describe a typical day at work.
My daily schedule in private practice or clinic includes seeing patients with a multitude of foot and ankle problems. These can range from heel pain, ankle sprains, fractures, diabetic wound care, to simple things such as ingrown toenails, soft tissue infection and simple fungal nail care. Care can include modalities such as wound debridement, injections, athletic/sport strapping/taping, injections, casting, nail removal etc.
For those days that I am in the operating room, surgery can range from soft tissue, bunion, hammer-toe repairs to more complicated things such as ankle fracture correction. The bottom line is that there is a lot of direct hands-on contact with my patients, a quality about podiatric medicine that I like a lot.
On average: How many hours a week do you work? How many hours do you sleep per night? How many weeks of vacation do you take?
Most podiatric physicians work anywhere from 30 to 40 hours a week. I actually work about 40 to 50 hours a week by choice, since I am also in academics. I usually get about six to eight hours of sleep per night, and I average about four to five weeks of vacation time per year.
Are you satisfied with your income?
Of course not! I should be paid at least double! On a serious note, my current income is quite reasonable.
If you took out educational loans, is/was paying them back a financial strain?
I did, and the repayment was not a significant financial strain.
In your position now, knowing what you do – what would you say to yourself 10 years ago?
I believe that I would tell myself to still go for the same career path. It is enjoyable, and the rewards include far more than the monetary aspect.
What information/advice do you wish you had known when you were beginning podiatric medicine school?
I wish I had had the reassurance that this was a correct choice to enter into and that the investment would be worth it. Luckily for me, this was the case, but it would have definitely helped to alleviate some anxiety as I was going through the medical schooling.
From your perspective, what is the biggest problem in healthcare today?
The politics of medical insurance and medical legal documentation(s). The focus is shifted away from the healthcare and welfare of the patient, and more towards “profit” for the medical plans and the politics of medical legal issues instead.
Where do you see podiatry in 10 years?
The population of the U.S. is aging and there is a big push towards increasing the activity/health level of the general public. To keep the populous on the move, good lower limb care is essential, and we are the profession that does that. The demand can only increase. The question is whether healthcare and the politics of healthcare will recognize that.
What types of outreach/volunteer work do you do, if any?
I work with our students at several homeless clinics in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, I work with a community clinic part time that focuses and offers care to minority groups.
How do you spend your free time? Any hobbies?
I love spending my free time catching up on movies and reading.
Do you have any family, and if so, do you have enough time to spend with them? How do you balance work and life?
I am single. I have plenty of time to spend with my immediate family and relatives. The balancing of work and life is quite manageable. One of the nice things about this profession is that I have the option to work as much as I want beyond the regular work week. However, if I want to have free evenings and weekends, I can certainly do that and still be comfortable.
Do you have any final piece of advice for students interested in pursuing podiatric medicine as a career?
Look at the profession and shadow a practicing physician. Make sure it is the path of your choice and you will not regret entering into it. It can be very rewarding and fulfilling. For those students who are simply looking into “medicine” but have not contemplated podiatric medicine, keep an open mind and actually go and see a podiatric physician at work. You may be pleasantly surprised and be turned on to a career path that is life changing.

35 thoughts on “20 Questions: David Tran DPM, MS”

  1. Can you do any other residencies with a DPM degree if you decide into the program you want to do something else like pathology or radiology?

    • No, once you enroll in a DPM program, you graduate with a DPM. It only qualifies you for a foot/ankle residency. The only way to switch into path or rads is to enter an MD/DO program and match.

  2. Awesome article. The podiatric population on SDN deserves more quality representatives such as this.

  3. While Podiatry can claim that the public could greater recognize their role and level of training, Podiatry itself (by its own admission from what I’ve observed) could go a long way towards policing itself towards greater regulation of the academic caliber of its institutions and ensuring consistent quality among its practitioners (note: of course all professions vary in quality by individual, but Podiatry, by my anecdotal observation and those of all of the physicians I’ve spoken with, does especially so).
    On another note, do we really have to use the term ‘physician?’ Podiatrists are no more Podiatric Physicians than Dentists are Dental Physicians. The profession is by definition limited. Pretty soon DNPs will be calling themselves Nursing Physicians. I think Podiatry would receive less backlash from Medicine if they dropped the title, which is probably there for billing purposes anyway (like with Optometry and Chiro, unfortunately).
    I have a good friend who is in DPM school, so no disrespect towards the profession, but students interested in Podiatry that are viewing this article should not expect to receive sentiments of parity from their Physician colleagues.

    • Not necessarily. While it may be easier to gain entry to podiatry school it is definitely not easy to graduate. In our school most of the podiatry students take classes with us. I’ve spend a lot of time getting to know the pod students at my school since we have taken almost ALL our courses together. It is really a misunderstood profession. They definitely know more than any other medical profession about the lower extremity, despite having taking most of our osteopathic level courses. They are much more educated than dental students whom only take a few of our courses and , from my understanding, dental students do not spend a single day doing residency while all current podiatry graduates must completely a 3 year residency requirement. thus comparing them to dental and optometry profession is quite irrelevant.
      In fact there is actually more of a discrepancy in quality of medical education for MD students. Specifically, Do you really think the MD profession contains an “ensuring consistent quality?” Consider a doctor that never took the MCAT, did not have a bachelors degree, and went to a Caribbean school for their education. After spending 6 years to graduate and hooping to different hospitals for their rotations, they finally graduate and scramble to a low caliber teaching hospital. This is not possible for the DO or the DPM profession.

      • Caribbean schools will become increasingly irrelevant given the fixed capacity for the US to train residents, and a DO student claiming MD programs are poorly standardized is highly hypocritical. I wouldn’t disparage a graduate from a Caribbean school any more than I would “Rocky Vista University” COM in Colorado.

      • You sound like an elitist prick. Podiatrists medically (+surgically) manage patients’ feets and ankles, so yes the title of podiatric physician is fitting. Have fun with your “titles”.

  4. ok come back when they do become irrelevant then will continue our argument (sorry to burst your bubble but if you look at last years data, you will see that the number of IMG’s is only increasing) . For now, I suggest you stfu because FMG’s continue to account for over 25% of graduating physicians. Thats 1/4 foreign graduates. talk about consistent quality. Owned. Thank you come again.
    ps. Its incompetent egotistical asswhipes like yourself that make our health profession look bad. To be honest, i respect all the professions whether they were trained in a foreign country or the almightily united states. MD’s are no better than Dentists who are no better than pharmacists ,etc. People pick their professions and you need to respect that. Go ask an orthopedic group why they hire podiatrist to do their FA cases moron.

    • Hey Osteopathic student, you sound really upset. No need to throw insults like “moron” and or use inane acronyms like “stfu.” We’ll be colleagues in the future, and I understand that issues like this are very sensitize ones but debate can still remain professional. I sincerely apologize if I offended you, but I also stand by what I wrote. I should come off not as elitist but as defensive, which is understandable given the number of health professionals usurping, or assuming, the title physician (optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists). For example my friend in podiatry school, who I respect, partly chose DPM instead of MD because it’s an easier path. We had a long discussion about it. So should an individual choosing an easier route of restricted scope expect parity?
      As far as ‘being owned’ regarding IMG acceptance into PGY-1 positions, according to the 2012 NRMP Match Data, 2,775 Non-US Citizen Students / Graduates of International Programs matched into a residency. That’s about 12% of the total number of residency spots, much lower than you’ve claimed and likely to decrease given the expansion of US allopathic and especially osteopathic schools.
      Again, I apologize for offending you, but I also believe that Podiatry should not use the title physician given the restricted (if still extensive) scope of their education.

      • Thats an interesting way to skew the data to your favoring. How about you also include “US citizens” that also graduate from IMG’s like Ross, SGU, AUC, etc. Because, after all, these are also foreign graduates. I’m sure your “12%” will increase.
        Listen to yourself. You are judging an entire profession because your friend supposedly thinks that DPM route is easier than osteopathic or allopathic. Anyways, i am not going to argue with you about this and i respect your decision on the matter. However, I would like to suggest that in the future you would refrain from judging a profession without thoroughly investing it. For example, i can tell you dont know much about the DPM profession when you make statement such as “Podiatrists are no more Podiatric Physicians than Dentists are Dental Physicians.” These two professions are nothing a like in training, however you equate the two to justify your argument.
        Best of luck with your future education.

      • From Merriam Webster: Physician – a person skilled in the art of healing; specifically : one educated, clinically experienced, and licensed to practice medicine as usually distinguished from surgery
        Podiatrists are licensed. Podiatrists are educated. Podiatrists are clinically experienced. Podiatrists practice at the top of the medical heirarchy (Nurses report to doctors, PA’s report to doctors, Podiatrists make the decisions regarding their patients.
        In Britain they want to take away the title “Surgeon” from podiatrists. What else would you call someone that cuts into you? The title arguments are ridiculous and usually fueled by medical students or premed students. When you actually start practicing, people care more about helping their patients.

  5. The stats the mdstudent guy posted are non-us citizens/ Grads of International Programs. Grads of International programs includes US Citizens graduating International programs like Ross. He/she didn’t skew data you’re just mistaken.

    • i read a thread on the Student Doctor Network that was very informative:
      The Pre Medical MD Allopathic thread had a question called CAUTIONARY TALE that clearly says that podiatry school is not medical school.
      I am planning on a medical career and have been looking into different medical schools.
      Why do the podiatry schools send out information that lead unknowing student to believe that Podiatry is a part of MEDICINE when it clearly after having read the posts and doing the research IS NOT a Specialty of Medicine?
      I was furious that I got on a mailing list and pamphlets started extolling how podiatry was a specialized field of medicine instead of a limited field with an obscure degree.
      A little honesty and straightforwardness in the marketing of podiatry would have saved many people the time finding out that podiatry school IS NOT medical school and the seven years it takes to be a full fledged podiatrist is expensive and the degree is useless outside of podiatry.

  6. Podiatric medical school is exactly the same first two years as MD or DO school. Do your research. In year three we specialize in the foot.

    • Proud, you’re out of line. Podiatry school is NOT Medical school. Get your facts right. That is a bullspit pickup line-save it for the bar scene. There’s nothing wrong or bad about foot docs so if you are one deal with it like an adult. If you wanted to be a physician you would’ve taken whatever road needed, not some shortcut and then expect what comes along with earning an MD (or DO). What do they teach you guys?

      • actually it is. We take the SAME classes as DO students in my school you piece of $hit. i really hate when people speak out of their anal region. i’d love to see you in a bar and smack you for your stupidity.

      • They teach us to be surgeons, physicians and doctors. I am legally defined as physician by my state. I am legally titled as physician by my hospital. I am given full privileges. I bring in my own patients. I do my own H&P. I report to NOBODY. I have the same licesse as MD/DO to prescribe medicine. I perform the most complicated foot and ankle surgeries in my hospital and nobody has a problem with it. I work about 40-42hrs a week and make well over 280k. I am a PODIATRIST.

      • Seems like you’re the one out of line. Podiatry school is medical school. Unless I’m mistaken all the colleges have the word medicine in them. You sound like another elitist snob, and I’ll guess you are still a student.

  7. Nice article! If you’re reading this comment Dr. Tran, do you accept volunteer for your homeless clinic? I would love to get involve and help out the community.

  8. I read a thread on the pre-med allopathic (MD) forum called Cautionary Tale.
    No thank you podiatry.
    I learned that podiatry was not a legitimate medical specialty and that podiatrists spend a lot of energy disabusing people of that belief.
    Then I read posts here about smacking people and how much money they make. The real doctors do not brag about what they do. That is pitiful. I learned that podiatry is something to avoid. Yuck.

      • Hey MD guy, how do you know that ain’t a chick? Pansies are pansies, it’s not politically correct to call someone by their rightful names these days. Lots of laughs. People who don’t write out the words in my not so humble opinion are usually pansies too. Lots of laughs. Screw all those cutesy abbreviations.

  9. I don’t really understand why everyone is so concerned with a title. At the end of the day it’s what the patient perceives/receives and where they decide to send their pennies. In the case of DPM schools giving acceptance to students with lower GPAs and MCATs, it has much more to do with supply-and-demand than quality of education/training/expertise. It’s all relative, folks. If a DPM is good at what he does and heals his patients then he is doing what he was trained to do. Who cares if he is titled a “physician”, frankly Medical Licensure isn’t needed anyway. In a free-market patients should choose their physicians based on their performance and credentials, not what some state/federal agency said they did. This would create a structure wherein there were varying levels of care and not solely “premium” care. Anyway, that’s another argument.
    Let the DPMs be DPMs and all you MDs and DOs do your job. Its a career, it’s not eternal salvation.

    • The letters DPM mean something. They mean that whatever precedes those three letters is questionable. Anyone who writes the letters DPM after their name has questionable credibility. DPM? The brunt of jokes, a person not bright enough to get into real medical or dental school. A less than legitimate person.

      • Meh, like I said it comes down to the patients that ultimately determine “credibility”. Where do they spend their money? Who offers the services they need? Over time the demand for podiatry affect the competitiveness in the application process, at some point Podiatry will be like DO/DDS is now. the Podiatrists offer services that people need and are will to pay for. That’s what matters at the end of the day. Moreover, you wouldn’t go to and Orthopedist if you have problems with your feet, unless it’s trauma, because they aren’t trained as well as a Podiatrist. You have to remember that the governing body that decides “credibility” is based on democracy and capitalism. If the democratic forces and the market select for podiatry it will increase in its “credibility” over time.

      • Credibility sure is not the wind in podiatry’s sails.
        To suggest that orthopedic surgeons aren’t as well trained as podiatrists if false.
        Podiatrists CREATE a need. Real people outside of the podiatry world do not know from podiatry other than it is not MD.
        The big problem with life time podiatrists is that they are brainwashed into believing the REALLY are the first choice of doctors for foot problems. That is not true. People go to a podiatrist IF and ONLY IF they are covered by their insurance. Why would you pay good money for a doctor who can’t even give a flu shot, or look at anything else but foot things.
        You Mr. Dr. are kidding yourself. The governing body limits your scope of practice because the law makers do not find you people suitable to treat outside of the foot.
        DPM means someone who does not meet the qualifications to be trusted outside a small part of the body. Medicaid keeps cutting your field out in state after state. At the end of the day I ask why cut out a whole profession if they were so special.
        The governing body has spoken, and it says that DPM is substandard, and podiatrists who claim to be equal to other providers is out of line.
        Propaganda to sell foot services and nothing else. A big farce of a field.

        • The same could be said about dentistry, Medicaid only covers a fraction of what a dentist offers, and dentistry over the past 20 years has made a significant push to create a need and a market for it’s services. Foot and Ankle Surgeons are needed with respect to the rising need for treatment of patients who are experiencing the effects of diabetes. and sports injuries. Perhaps this will pass eventually, but your claim that Foot Care is a farce is quite the misattribution.
          The Surgery Center located in Oklahoma City is a free market-based system of medical care. They have two DPMs on their staff, why? because they provide services that patients will pay for out of pocket. Do a little more research before you label an entire class of people as a farce.

          • What does dentistry and a clinic in Oklahoma have to do with the price of fish,
            Podiatry is tgphe black box mystery field of healthcare.
            Spare your Strawman arguments for the schnooks,
            Podiatry has a small place in diabetic care, soon to be smaller. The DPM cannot tend to the disease itself merely the cleaning of wounds, typically the role of nursing staff. Podiatry is an example of Medicare waste, Hinging a single disease a podiatrist can only treat locally is poor logic.
            I have done enough research to know that podiatry will not be much use for revisions to US healthcare delivery. A drain on the system with no compelling arguments for its integration into the banister am.
            No ABMS, ACGME, LCGME, 50 States, 50 scopes of practice, non physician service providers. I can go on, but all this is a few clicks away.
            You, podiatry, can not fool the consumers as well prior to the Internet.
            Again, DPM is synonymous with substandard non MD care, NPs, PAs, DNPs, will easily replace the overpriced limited license oractitioners.
            Do YOUR research. The quest for podiatry parity, and the fallacy of training is well documented.
            Learn your basic logic and fallacies.

  10. The State of DPMetry in America 2013 what’s changed?by Anonymous
    Good morning my fellow DPMs and students you have all spun the magic bunion wheel and won that roller coster ride into a field littered with the shavings of those who have come before you. Shavings? Shavings of what? No not mycotic debris or less than viable remnants of the stratum corneum but alas the shavings of any long lost shell of awarenes which was stripped away as you entered that member’s only world of the foot. You have settled into at best what is a world of what the cheerleaders of the profession exalt as THE GREATEST SPECIALTY ON EARTH. Of course the years will yield an overwhelmingly satisfying career where you will not only reap the benefits of helping the sick and walk among the greatest minds on the planet proudly displaying those three widely known letters behind your name…What three letters? D P M and who should know better than the banker or butcher or candlestick maker what those letters mean-really once they examine the DPM after your name on a cheque or charge card, shrug their shoulders and narrow their eyes : “Whass that mean, D P M.” You will proudly exalt that it is a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine and that potential patient suffering some painful pedal anomalie a potential sole for you to save will reply: Heck my real doctor takes care of my foot and when I broke my toe lass year I done saw the orthopedic doctor. Ain’t you fellers and gals like kire prackers?”
    How DARE you write such a post on this arena? You ask. Why not, where can anyone with a DPM honestly express the truth about what podiatry is for those who are about to take the plunge into a world of absurdity, hypocrisy and false expectations. Tell me please young pod or student pod or pre pod-What do you expect from this career? Do you think everyone does that three year residency will go out and make a living? Really? Do think that getting a license will occur if the states with so many different scopes of practicee will even allow you to perform your craft within its borders? What do they call the most succesful, academicaly accomplished and brilliant podiatrist? Why isn’t podiatry all ten thousand strong-believe the stats? Find out of that 10K how many retire on disability, quit or just skip out on student loans never to be heard from again.
    How often do you hear the calling of the acclaimed podiatrists rehashing the continuing education in podiatry and how many ways to do a bunionectomy or rearfoot procedure only to find out that you will NEVER be able to get the chance to do the things you are trained to do. Either a hospital won’t let you on staff or your state doesn’t allow you past the line on the leg above the maleoli-no you won’t be allowed by law to pop a pimple one millimeter above that border or you end up in the slammer.
    If you leave podiatry and want a new start a new career a new job in this ruddy murky economy do you think that the D P M is recognised as anything more than a mystery with roots somewhat akin to ann offshoot of witchcraft? There have been public burnings at the stake of DPMs in some communities where DPMs have stoped to help accident victims and said that they could help because they were doctors-despite the fact they were surgically trained and could put together and take apart a foot every which way to sundown-and these GOOD SAMARITAN DPMs were punished for practicing medicine without a license!
    The only way a DPM will gain any respect in the MD world is when or if he or she donates his body to science and is dissected by a first year medical student.
    If you are young and just starting think of your colleagues-helpful sorts who will rip you off every step of the way and hold true to the axiom that they teach in DPM school: NEVER ASK A QUESTION YOU DON’T HAVE THE ANSWER TO-after all you don’t want that shoddy education to show and perpetuating ignorance and wearing the blinders so you don’t go off the track are critical to a life of mediocrity if best. Let’s face it you probably won’t go too far economically and your social skills will diminish as the years pass.
    Oh yeah tell me about the DPM schools and why they don’t offer the students a way to earn a wage as a physician assistant or OR tech to supplement their income while building their AMerican dream practice?
    Project this or project that and all the money you donate to all the associations go to some fat cat having a big meal and a hooker so you can think your interests are well served-your lobbying dollars and political action aside will NEVER compare to the shear numbers of dollars that any other society can raise.
    Is there an alternative? Yeah keep your mouth shut and pay off your loans and buy the products that the ads that pay for the sites sponsor and listen to the hacks selling their wares as if they really give a crap about THE PROFESSION – Love it or Leave it the motto of podiatry in the USA.

Comments are closed.