Alumni Spotlight: Richard Rettig, DPM
By: Norah McDonnell, ENG 2022
Can you talk about your path to how you got here and why you chose podiatry? How has your experience been? What is your favorite part of being a doctor?
I was a science “nerd” as a child and I decided that the medical profession would be the best outlet for that skill set. I looked into my various options, and explored my opportunities, and podiatry turned out to be the best fit. I found the experience of practicing podiatry somewhat challenging at first. It took a while to ramp up to where I am now, running a very successful practice. I find it most rewarding when I am able to solve a painful or complicated presentation, nailing the diagnosis.
What is your favorite/proudest accomplishment so far?
I became Chief of the Podiatry section at Einstein Hospital Philadelphia in 1996. I am particularly proud of the fact that when I started, podiatrists were denied surgical privileges at Einstein; they were not allowed in the operating room. But after years of lobbying, I was successful in getting the rules changed.
Over the years, I have been involved in training many residents, including a stint as Residency Director. I am proud to have passed on what I have learned, and in doing so, honoring the podiatrists who trained me. I was also one of few podiatrists to have been elected to a Medical Staff Board.
What is something you knew now or wish someone had told you when you were starting podiatry?
Greet every patient with a big smile and a warm hello, even if that does not come naturally to you. They say that you should treat every person the way you would want yourself or a member of your family to be treated. That only works for 95% of the patients. For the rest, just keep smiling (and have a story to tell your family when you get home).
Make sure you leave time for family life. Early in my career, one of my colleagues died too soon. I decided that I would never let my practice hold me back from long and frequent family vacations, and I never missed one of my son's soccer games either.
Do you have any advice for prospective or new students in podiatry?
For prospective students, I suggest you take advantage of Temple's mentoring program and check out a few local podiatrists. For new students, keep the goal in mind - school will not last forever. Every day is one day closer to your goal.
What are the challenges of your position and how have you learned to overcome them?
Podiatrists today have two main choices: to own their own practice or to be an employee. I have always been an owner. As CEO of my practice, I have to make executive decisions regarding the direction of my practice. I am the head of marketing, head of HR, head of IT, and head of maintenance. That's a lot of hats to wear. When something goes wrong, I have to fix it. As long as you don't mind hard work and responsibility, you can do it! The rewards are awesome - control of your own time and a higher income – and make it worth it.
What are some of the other rewards of your position?
It is rewarding to have so many happy and satisfied patients, and I am proud of what I have accomplished in building up my practice to where it is today. It's also very gratifying to have created jobs for my wonderful staff. Being a podiatrist has allowed me to provide a very comfortable life my family.
What are you looking forward to in the future? Do you have any goals for the next year?
I am approaching retirement, and am working on how to ratchet down and eventually exit. I already travel a lot, but there is always room for more. I look forward to spending entire winters on the slopes and entire summers hiking in Europe with my wife. I would also like to get back to woodworking. And finally, there is still one goal I want to accomplish as chief of the Podiatry section. Podiatrists are on staff at Einstein, but based on the by-laws, we are not in the same (active) staff classification as the other medical doctors. To that end, I am currently working on changing that situation, hopefully by next year.