Alumni Profile: Dr. Kittra Owens, TUSPM '05

Kittra Owens, DPM, FACFAS, FACPM

Dr. Owens is a native of Mobile, Alabama. She graduated from Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, Alabama) with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Degree in Biology. Her postgraduate education continued at TUSPM where she earned a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree in 2005. During her four years at TUSPM, she served as an APMSA delegate and as the APMSA student liaison to the AACPM. She completed her residency at Oakwood Health Care System in Dearborn, Michigan.

Immediately after residency, she commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy and was assigned to Naval Hospital Camp LeJeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. There she served as Assistant Department Head of Orthopaedics and Orthopaedic consultant for foot and ankle injuries. She deployed to Afghanistan on a Medical Embedded Training Team in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As the Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon Mentor to the Afghan National Army, she trained Afghan Orthopaedic Surgeons to manage complex foot and ankle trauma. She was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Afghan Campaign Medal, and International Security Assistance Forces Medal for her valiant efforts.

In 2015, she completed her active-duty service obligation as a Lieutenant Commander and transitioned to the VA Southern Nevada Heath Care System in Las Vegas. Dr. Owens is Board Certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, as well as the American Board of Podiatric Medicine. She is an adjunct clinical staff for TUSPM and Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) School of Medicine. She has academic publications in multiple journals and chapter co-authorship in the 4th Edition of McGlamry Foot and Ankle Surgery Textbook. She currently serves as Chief of Staff at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System.

While at TUSPM, she was heavily engaged in the APMSA. Parity for podiatrists has been a mission of hers since 2001. TUSPM provided the academic and clinical foundation for residency, and her clerkships and externships exposed her to collaborating with allopathic, as well as osteopathic physicians. When she graduated from TUSPM, she was well prepared for residency.

“The journey from residency to the U.S. Navy, to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and now having the distinction of being the first Podiatrist to serve as Chief of Staff within the Department of Veterans Affairs is a tribute to opportunities now available to our profession. Being the first Podiatrist to serve as Chief of Staff within the Department of Veterans Affairs is a significant accomplishment. There were many qualified allopathic and osteopathic physicians that interviewed for the job, but to know after 3 series of interviews that I was the top candidate is truly

humbling. To have Cardiologists, General Surgeons, Pathologists, Pharmacists, Emergency Physicians, Family Physicians, Physical therapists …and the list goes on, refer to me as their leader makes me proud and their support of me as the Chief of Staff is displayed daily.”

From the clinical and surgical perspective, many VA podiatrists can practice at the peak of their scope. Clinically, she was able to perform platelet rich plasma injections for acute and sub-chronic injuries, as well as ESWT and other advanced podiatry modalities. Surgically, she performed reconstructive, as well as traumatic foot and ankle procedures, and was viewed among colleagues as a field subject matter expert. So, the VA definitely provides an avenue for growth to young podiatric physicians and opportunities in leadership and career development for established practitioners. Overall, serving those who served our country is the ultimate benefit.

There have been many individuals who influenced her career, but she would like to mention two specifically. Dr. Julie Overby was a podiatrist in her hometown of Mobile, Alabama. She allowed her to shadow when evaluating clinic patients and performing procedures. This was her introduction to realizing that podiatry was a profession that could be as laid back or as surgically aggressive as desired.

Dr. Jeffrey Robbins (Podiatry Director, VA Central Office) has also been a steady resource in her career. She met Dr. Robbins as a first-year podiatry student at TUSPM. He was also a board member of the AACPM, and she was the elected APMSA liaison to the AACPM. Dr. Robbins has witnessed her journey from podiatry student, to resident, to military servicemember, to VA Podiatry Section Chief, and now to Chief of Staff. Dr. Owens is appreciative of his guidance and encouragement.

Outside of work, international travel, going to the gym, and spending time with family is what makes her happiest. Her nieces and nephews have given her the title “Best Aunt Ever” so her free time is spent living up to it.