Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education


Interdisciplinary Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Quincy Martin III

Second Advisor

Dr. Deborah Baness King

Third Advisor

Dr. Qeena C. Woodard


Previous research has highlighted the need for greater racial diversity within the healthcare workforce to address shifts in the U.S. population, changing patient needs, and continuing racial health disparities (Liaison Committee on Medical Education, 2009; Sullivan, 2004). Key to addressing this need is the examination of the prevalence, experiences, and needs of underrepresented students in medicine, with a particular focus on Black students in medicine. Research typically has focused on the experiences of Black students within other health professions programs, such as nursing (Ackerman-Barger et al., 2020; Salerno et al., 2017; L. B. Williams et al., 2018), pharmacy (Bush, 2020), and psychology (Horsford et al., 2019). Missing from these discussions has been a focus on the lived experiences of Black students and graduates of podiatric medical programs.

This qualitative study aimed to explore the lived experiences and success factors of recent Black podiatric medical graduates. Seven graduates from a Midwest podiatry college participated in semistructured interviews. Using Astin's (1991) I-E-O model and Harper's (2010) anti-deficit achievement framework as theoretical underpinnings, three themes emerged: (a) podiatric medicine was not the collaborators' first career choice; (b) “onlyness” was observable, felt, and a central feature of their podiatry school experience; and (c) collaborators relied on both self-efficacy and external sources of support to navigate the environment successfully. Findings indicate the interplay of student inputs (i.e., pre-podiatry school experiences, skills, qualities, or student characteristics) and environment (i.e., descriptions of their lived experiences, internal dialogue and meaning-making, and engagement experiences) on the outputs (i.e., behaviors to navigate the environment successfully and eventually graduate) of recent Black podiatric medical graduates.