If you live in Kearny, and the topic of podiatric medicine comes up for any reasons, and then you ask someone to recommend a podiatrist, chances are the person is going to have one simple answer — “Oh, that’s easy — Dr. John Branwell. When he first opened his solo practice in 1999, it was inside the old Wel-Fit Shoes. And then years later, he moved a block south to 37 Seeley Avenue.
But it’s not just about his convenient office or a personality that would knock even the most well-known celebrity down a peg or two. The man still makes the occasional house call. Just think about that for a moment. What doctor does this anymore? If one other than Branwell exists, we’re unaware.
Now, throughout his illustrious career and life, which includes an appearance on the gameshow “Wheel of Fortune,” — you didn’t think we’d skip that, did you? — Kearny’s podiatrist of record is now the president of the the New Jersey Podiatric Medical Society. Before we get into that, let’s look back at his career that has taken to this position of prestige.
Branwell says his original goal — as an undergrad — was to go to medical school to become an opthamologist or medical illustrator. But that all changed drastically when a recruiter visited his senior year at Memphis State University.
“I went to the Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine and graduated in May 1990,” Branwell said. “First year residency was at Veterans Administration Medical Center in East Orange. Second year residency was at Roseland Surgical Center in Roseland. Originally, I desired to become a medical illustrator or field of ophthalmology. Senior year in college, a representative from the podiatry colleges gave brief presentations about podiatry at an honor society meeting. His presentation changed my direction and the rest is history.”
And that’s a good thing, scores of Kearny residents who have visited Branwell would say.
So what is the podiatric society all about? What will he do as its president?
“The New Jersey Podiatric Medical Society is a professional medical society founded in 1905. Currently it has 300+ active members. Its purpose is to advance the profession of podiatric medicine in New Jersey, to advance and promote the art and science of podiatry, to elevate and maintain professional standards, to safeguard the integrity of its membership, to establish mutual relationships and understanding between the podiatric and other medical professions, to inform and establish a credible relationship with the public,” Branwell said. “Membership is not required — but strongly encouraged — for all New Jersey licensed podiatrists. All 50 states have their own society and all are all branches of the American Podiatric Medical Association.
Sounds impressive. And like it will involve a lot of work. So how will a man who has a full-time practice, in addition to being an active member of the Optimist Club and a board member of the Salvation Army pull all this off? And what will he have to do?
“My responsibilities as president of NJPMS will be to organize and conduct monthly meetings of the executive board and board of trustees,” he said. “And to maintain the many committees that have been formed which handle any insurance, hospital and education matters that may arise during the year.
“The society is comprised of seven geographical divisions that incorporate the entire state, so all division officers report any concerns and issues directly to me. Also, I will be attending any statewide legislative meetings and political events that may have an effect on the future of Podiatry in New Jersey.”
Branwell, meanwhile, takes the presidency two years earlier than planned. Something unforeseen came up recently, so a colleague nominated him early. He was all too willing to accept. Yet it all comes during a time, still, of many unknowns, given we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic.
“The immediate past president, Dr. Deborah Rosenfeld, did an outstanding job especially through the pandemic,” he said. “She was asked to serve two years because of the uncertainty of the changes to occur due to COVID-19. With big shoes certainly to fill, it is my mission to increase our membership and emphasize the benefits of becoming a member of NJPMS. I am very excited to welcome our new Executive Director, Ms. Tajma Kotoric, who will be assisting me in this mission and also promote our society to the younger physicians and residency programs through her expertise in social media.”
Branwell was installed as the 102nd President of NJPMS at its annual leadership reception May 5 at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. There were nearly 100 doctors, guests and sponsors present.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.