Podiatric Physicians are Innovators
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Podiatry is an incredibly rewarding branch of medicine for Lowell Weil, Jr., DPM, MBA, FACFAS, who finds deep satisfaction in the fast treatment response among his diverse patient population.
"Unlike some specialties, podiatry can make an immediate, meaningful impact in people's lives," said Dr. Weil, a 1994 graduate of Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine. "Our patients can walk in today with pain and walk out today with less or no pain."
CEO of the Weil Foot and Ankle Institute, which operates practices in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, Dr. Weil is also a thought leader, mentor and expert in practice management. He points to the strong link between the rise of the podiatric physician and improved treatment of the foot and ankle.
"Nobody in the world provides better comprehensive foot and ankle care than American podiatry," he said. "The best podiatrists in the U.S. do extremely high-level work, surgical or non-surgical, without a doubt."
Dr. Weil grew up around the specialty. His father, Lowell Weil, Sr., DPM, FACFAS, founder of the institute, was one of the first sports medicine specialists in the profession, serving as team podiatrist and podiatry consultant for the Chicago Bears for 27 years and currently as the team podiatrist for the Chicago White Sox.
"There was no expectation I would go into medicine, even though I also had an uncle and grandfather who were physicians," Dr. Weil said. "But I saw the enjoyment my dad got out of his work and the appreciation of his patients."
As a high school student, Dr. Weil assisted in the Bears' training room. In 1985, during his senior year, the team won the Super Bowl.
"My dad made a huge impact on that team," Dr. Weil recalled. "He treated Hall of Famers Walter Payton and Dan Hampton. He was helping them every game, every week. I was a huge sports fan and podiatry was my conduit to involvement, an extension of the enjoyment I took in professional sports."
Like his father and other top podiatrists who pioneered innovative surgical procedures and developed new tools and products for foot surgery, Dr. Weil, who also directs the Weil Institute's fellowship program, encourages each generation of podiatric physicians to push the limits of treatment and practice.
"Challenge the accepted norms and look for ways to do it even better," he urges in his blog on the Podiatry Today website. "This is how innovation happens."
Dr. Weil's areas of special interest include foot and ankle surgery, tendon and ligament reconstruction, chronic heel pain, radiofrequency techniques, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, sports medicine and autologous stem cell therapy. He has been instrumental in the diagnosis and innovative surgical management of plantar plate problems. A published author, editor and lecturer, he also conducts workshops and provides product development expertise for the medical device industry.
Former co-editor of the Foot and Ankle Specialist, the only combined orthopedic/podiatric peer-reviewed journal in the world, Dr. Weil highlights the close relationship between podiatry and orthopedics that was fueled by advances and excellence in podiatric medicine.
"I navigate through podiatry nationally and have a great relationship with the orthopedic surgery and medical community in the Chicagoland area," Dr. Weil said. "Podiatrists tend to be a very interesting and thoughtful and diverse group of people — incredibly bright people who could be successful no matter what specialty they practice.
"But they chose podiatry, a profession that really offers lots of diversity of opportunity," he said. "We can treat children, geriatric patients, athletes, people with chronic illness and incredibly healthy people. We can do surgery or medicine or both.
"Podiatry offers a huge array of ways to impact the world."