Student Profile: Brandon Selby Blanken

Student Profile: Student Body President Brandon Selby Blanken, Class of 2020 By Norah McDonnell, ENG 2022

Can you talk about your path to how you got here as Student Body President, why you chose
podiatry, and what your experience has been? How has school been so far?

Ever since I was about 7 years old, I would watch my father, who graduated from here in 1990. I
was very fascinated with the surgeries and the things he was able to do, and I fell in love with it
and knew I wanted to do it since I was about 7. As things progressed through my undergraduate
program, I just stuck with it and at the end of the day, I knew this was what I wanted to do.
Being able to be a surgeon and a clinician, having people walk out with a smile on their face
really appealed to me. Speaking about my experience, what I love about this school and this
profession is the intimacy and the family atmosphere. It’s a relatively small program, it’s
specialized. It has its pros and cons, but at the end of the day we are all one big family, the ability to make a difference on your patients, but also on your fellow
colleagues is a benefit that isn’t so easily attained in other professions.

What is your favorite or proudest accomplishment so far?

 It’s definitely healthy to take a step back and look back and see that
you’ve done a lot of things here. If I can be remembered for one thing during my time as a TUSPM Student-Doctor, I would like to be known for giving my peers as many opportunities for growth as possible. I am very fortunate to be where I am and to have family in this field, but I feel like this profession gives so much and I just want to be known as someone who facilitates that for everyone else. 

What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting? What is
some advice you have for new or prospective podiatry students?

Through the first two years, keep your head down and work hard. After you finish boards, that’s
really where you can make a name for yourself and branch out. It’s so easy that when you get
somewhere new you want to do as much as you can, but it’s important that when you’re in a
medical program that you really focus on your studies and establish that foundation. Other than
that, be prepared to be more than a student when you are here. You are an advocate for the
field and you wear that title as student-doctor.

What are the challenges of school and your position? What skills have you learned so far to
overcome these challenges?

In my opinion, almost all of the challenges here are rather subjective. You can easily go through your 4 years here and have a
great experience, great education, great clinicals, but if you’re the kind of individual that’s very
active in your process here, you can find room for improvement anywhere you go. If you want to better your experience here, what’s great is there are
avenues for it, but being part of such a large university, you have to know your place
sometimes. There is a process to everything and you can’t be selfish. You have to think for everyone while
you are here. Things come about like something as simple as classroom attendance, to complexities like the board pass rate. Its my responsibility to make sure all of these issues do not fall upon deaf ears. However, these issues have been addressed so well by our administration. Our boards pass rate for part 1 was the highest in the nation this year, and I will never
stop bragging about that.

What are the rewards of your position and what the opportunities that you have or can have in
the future?

This position, in the beginning, is not rewarding at all, but there are so many opportunities you
have: the faculty respects you and listens to you as you represent the rest of the students, I get
to meet and engage with so many students here that I otherwise wouldn’t have, just because
I’m their point person to go to if they have anything they want to bring up. I hold every statement
and point they make to value and I like to express it to the administration. On a larger scale, I
get to represent the school on a national level, meeting students and clinicians from all over the
country, and it’s a great experience. It’s time consuming, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t
have it any other way.

What are you looking forward to in the future and what are your goals for this year?
My goal for this year is to establish a foundation in the clinic. I know that this is the best clinic in
the world for podiatry and podiatrists. I hope to establish a strong foundation, so for next year,
my 4th year, I’ll be the strongest candidate possible when I go on externships. I know, from what
I’ve heard, that’s where you really start learning. I am excited to be a better learner.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The last thing I’d like to say is that to all of our students here from day 1 is to be proud of yourself, to not just be a student here, but to be a student doctor,
which makes you a leader here and an advocate for your profession and for the health of
others. In that, you have an innate responsibility to be the best self you can be and try to hold
not just yourself, but everyone around you, to a very high standard. That starts from day 1 going
to class everyday, being present, being professional, and having the best bedside manner you
can in your clinical experience. Every time you put on that white coat or that Temple T, you
need to be the best you can be, no matter what.