Athlete, doctor, and lieutenant: As an officer in the US Navy, Kittra Owens, DPM, "has it all." Based at the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Dr. Owens never considered being a podiatrist, let alone joining the military, but she has parlayed these two components into a perfect career.
"As a young adult, I was an athlete. I knew I wanted to be a health care professional, but I didn't know specifically what I wanted to do. I knew it would have to be consistent with staying active, being agile, and being healthy," says Dr. Owens. So throughout undergraduate and graduate school at Tuskegee University, Dr. Owens considered her options. After completing her master's degree in biology, Dr. Owens was still unsure of the health-care profession she wanted to pursue. It wasn't until one summer when she was teaching a course to high school students in her hometown of Mobile, Alabama, that she discovered podiatric medicine. "My students were given the opportunity to shadow different health professions, and podiatric medicine was one of the areas we rotated through." After further investigation, Dr. Owens decided that podiatric medicine was going to be the best profession to fit her lifestyle.
Dr. Owens graduated from the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine. Upon completion of a three-year surgical residency at Oakwood Healthcare System in Dearborn, Michigan, she entered the US Navy and is now one of 13 active duty US Navy podiatrists. As a doctor and an officer, Dr. Owens has a dual role--she must treat patients but also uphold the duties of an officer in the Navy. "You have to go to work and see your patients, but you also have a higher expectation to lead by example; to display military decorum and understand what's best for the service men and women who give their lives so readily to protect our freedom."
For over a year and a half, Dr. Owens has worked in the Department of Orthopedics at the Naval Hospital Camp Lejuene. She is the foot and ankle podiatrist and the only podiatric surgeon. She has recently taken over as the Division Officer for the Department of Orthopedics. "This is a big step for podiatric medicine and an honor for me." Being on a Marine Corps military base, Dr. Owens is responsible for the treatment of over 30,000 service men and women. "My primary focus and responsibility is making sure the active duty service men and women are ready for deployment," says Dr. Owens. She spends 3½ days in the clinic, with the remaining days scheduled for surgery. "I see roughly 80 patients a week and perform approximately 30 surgical procedures a month."
For Dr. Owens, all of her hard work has paid off and she is now reaping the rewards of military medicine--it has provided her financial stability, job security, and an opportunity to travel around the world. Dr. Owens reflects on her decision to become a podiatrist and join the US Navy: "I am completely satisfied with all my career choices."
For more information on careers in podiatry, contact APMA or call 301-581-9281.