For Tobi Mark, a Michener Institute of Education at UHN graduate of 2007, Chiropodists are healthcare super-collaborators.
Beyond assessing and treating medical issues of the foot, they also help patients heal from diabetes-related complications with a sense of independence. But, ensuring optimal patient care during a time of immense strain on the healthcare system is only possible, Tobi believes, through teamwork.
“We are more burdened than ever before. There appears to be an increase in chronic illness and more complex cases,” says Tobi. “I work with many people living with diabetes who, unfortunately, have developed a foot ulcer or open wound, which can take significant time to heal. To succeed, we need sustained collaboration not only between physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals but also with our patients, their families, and their caregivers.”
Initially graduating with a Diploma in Chiropody, obtained with distinction, Tobi started working at St. Michael’s Hospital after Michener, where her passion for diabetic foot and wound care flourished.
“I immediately found a passion in diabetic foot care, specifically wound care,” she says. “Having a foot wound is very expensive. It is physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing on our patients. Cases can be devastating and completely change someone’s life. But, if we meet our patients where they are at, educate them, and work with them, we can be right beside them on their journey, hopefully to healing.”
After St. Michael’s Hospital, Tobi received an opportunity to work abroad in Bermuda at a private practice. There, she also helped in a new, multi-disciplinary foot wound clinic, which was ground-breaking for Bermuda at the time, where she interacted with various health disciplines, nurses, and physicians – even hyperbaric therapy. Upon returning to Toronto after some years, she took her experience to the Mississauga Halton Diabetes Foot Care program at Halton Healthcare and Women’s College Hospital.
Now an Associate Professor of Chiropody at Michener, Tobi teaches students to take ownership of patient cases, communicate with patients, and integrate their learned knowledge with patient care. “Teaching is a wonderful experience,” she says. “I learned how to teach through many of the professors I now work with. Being able to come back and teach alongside my own teachers is incredible.”
In addition to her current role, Tobi is undertaking a Master of Education in Adult Education and Community Development at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Here, she hopes to bridge the gaps in diabetic foot care and foot wound care through the collaborative approach that has carried her throughout her career.
When asked to reflect on her time at Michener, Tobi says, “my education changed my life and gave me purpose; I would not be where I am today without Michener. It was my entry into healthcare and the opportunity to meet so many wonderful mentors and competent professionals who have made me who I am today.”