Dr. Benjamin Elgamil describes himself as a lifelong learner. In fact, on the website of his podiatry practice, the Foot & Ankle Pain Center in Columbia, he challenges patients to bring their favorite trivia fact to their appointment.
Elgamil, 34, grew up in the Baltimore area and attended Pikesville High School, the University of Maryland Baltimore and the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine.
He lives in Pikesville with his wife, Nikki, and children, Melody, 3, and Noah, 1. They attend Beth Tfiloh Congregation.
What was it like growing up in Maryland?
I have spent most of my life in Maryland. Through the Jewish community that was present, I felt like it was a very tight-knit community where people really cared for each other. You had great leadership from the Jewish leaders in our community. I had also gone to an offshoot of Baltimore Hebrew University called Judaic Academy after my bar mitzvah. You had this great Jewish community that was able to take care of and provide education for the youth. I’ve noticed that the Jewish community has a very special bond.
Why do you send your two children to Jewish day school?
My 3-year-old daughter Melody is at Beth Tfiloh, and my 1-year-old Noah is at Beth El. Even though I received secular education during grade school, what was very different at the time is that the public schooling was very Jewish. My graduating class at Pikesville was almost 80% Jewish. You could incorporate Jewish learning after school into your day. However, it has since changed. I was able to incorporate Jewish learning in the after-school format even post-bar mitzvah age. With my children, that is not an option. We are more of a traditional Jewish home with a lot of Orthodox values. We feel Beth Tfiloh is the best match, and we are hopefully going to be lifers there for our children.
When did you know you wanted to be a podiatrist?
I had a strong interest in small surgical site training when I was an undergraduate. I conducted research at the University of Maryland Medical School, looking into small site surgeries. What better place than the foot? There are 26 bones in each foot. A quarter of the bones in our body are down in our feet. It was a great segue to looking at the innovations in different treatments for foot surgery. That was where I had spent a lot of my
What are some of the things you do day to day?
I run a surgical-based practice. It incorporates seeing any patient with a clinical problem from any age. My youngest patient was 2 months and I have treated people well into their 100s. It is anything from minor aches and ailments to major fractured legs that require surgery. A typical day for me includes running from seeing clients at the office to Howard County General Hospital taking care of in-patients and surgery there.
Why open a practice in Columbia?
Columbia itself right now has seen an underservice from podiatry. There has not been a long presence of orthopedic care in Howard County. The population is increasing, so when I was looking at a location, this was a great start. There is also a small Jewish community here in Columbia. However, I do intend to remain living with my family in Pikesville. I have been surprised that this area has a community of its own.
What does being a lifelong learner mean to you?
I believe that with anything in life, we are constantly learning new things about this world. That can be anything from parts of my medical care and my medical training where I am constantly reading medical journals and incorporating them into my practice, but also it is good to have a historical perspective. My undergraduate training was actually in a history degree. We need to understand where we come from and our past. By being a lifelong learner, I look at both avenues.
Has anyone ever brought a trivia fact to their appointment?
Plenty. Of course, when cicada season rolled around, I was getting a littering of facts. I am a huge cicada buff now and I tend to know a lot about their patterns of growth
Have you ever eaten one?
Never, they are not kosher.