Podiatrist finds a foothold in N.D. oil patch hub

2014-04-06T10:00:00Z Podiatrist finds a foothold in N.D. oil patch hubThe Associated Press The Associated Press
April 06, 2014 10:00 am  • 

WILLISTON, N.D. — All Guy Slann wanted was to be useful.

But as a podiatrist in south Florida, he was just one among dozens. While the demand for podiatric services was high, the supply was even higher — there were foot doctors everywhere.

Wanting a market where he could supply something not commonly found, Slann turned to Williston. With the booming economy and lack of podiatric services in the area, Slann had found his market.

Since August, he has been operating out of a small office on 4th Street West. His business is called the Williston Foot and Ankle Clinic.

On why he chose podiatry over any other kind of medicine, Slann said, "It turns out the feet are connected to the rest of the body. As grossed out as people may get about feet problems, it's hard to do anything without them."

Like many upstarts in Williston, Slann had trouble finding office space. Those who enter Slann's office are greeted with a small space, but one that has all the necessary equipment to treat patients. He has obtained surgical privileges at Mercy Medical Center for bone, skin and muscle operations and is training to do operations now.

"There are very few foot surgeries done here," he said. "It's another gap we have in Williston."

Patients who come to Slann for foot surgeries get an added bonus: his office is in the Plainsman building, where the office of a professional radiologist is also located.

"There's an excellent radiologist in the building," Slann said. "If patients need a CT or MRI scan, they don't even have to leave the building. We have a nice synergy with FairLight Medical Clinic. It's good to have multiple medical services in one room."

Once Slann's practice grows, he may consider taking on a partner. But for now, the small size of the business works to his advantage.

"I don't like making people wait," he said. "People are surprised when they can come in and just be seen. When you call around Williston, you're lucky to get seen within a week."

Slann said the podiatric field is one often overlooked by young medical students, somewhat unjustly so. He said those who do go into the field, however, are usually set for life.

"Podiatry is an overlooked specialty," Slann said. "Too many medical students look down on podiatry because of a stigma against feet. You have to go into podiatry schools ... I knew on day one that I was going to specialize in treating feet and ankles."

Slann was a natural fit for podiatry, but it was not his first choice. He formerly had a career in computer software, but changed when he realized it was not fit for him.

"I realized I liked helping people directly more than large corporations," Slann said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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