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The Inside Scoop: A Conversation with Dr. Yara Tinawi

If you have had the opportunity to walk through the doors at the St. Cloud Surgical Center, you know it’s a special place. We aim to make patients and their families comfortable every step of the way. While you’ll see many smiling faces on your journey, perhaps the most important one belongs to your doctor. We are proud to have created positive partnerships with surgeons from the Greater St. Cloud area, and we know it only benefits you, the patient.

One of our strongest partnerships comes from Central Minnesota Foot & Ankle. Dr. Greg and Karen Rouw have been staples in our community since 2008. They have built a reputable business, and it continues to grow! At the beginning of 2024, they brought on Dr. Yara Tinawi as their newest foot and ankle specialist.

We recently sat down with Dr. Tinawi to learn more about her journey and what being a podiatrist means to her. Take a look! 

SCSC: Hi, Yara; thank you so much for sitting down with us today. Can you tell us briefly about yourself and what you do at the St. Cloud Surgical Center?

Dr. Tinawi: Thank you for having me. My name is Dr. Yara Tinawi. I am a podiatrist at Central Minnesota Foot and Ankle. We focus on all general podiatric work here, from diet and diabetic care to nail and fungal care, ankle fractures, foot reconstructions, and trauma. If there is anything to do below the knee, we can treat it. 

SCSC: A well-rounded practice, no doubt! You have a unique background. Would you share that with our readers? 

Dr. Tinawi: Of course. I was born and raised in Mount Damascus, Syria. My family and I moved to the States in 2010, more specifically, to Michigan. Not soon after, I started my schooling when we were in Michigan and moved to Ohio for podiatric school. I feel like I’ve been all over the place. My family resides in Michigan, but I moved to Minnesota for better work opportunities. 

SCSC: How exciting to have lived and experienced so many places! What made you decide to come to Minnesota, of all places? You know it’s cold here, right? 

Dr. Tinawi: I chose Minnesota because it felt the most like Michigan, and I actually have family here. My uncle and cousins live close by. Meeting Greg and Karen helped, too. When I interviewed with the Rouw’s at Central MN Foot and Ankle Clinic, I knew they would be awesome to work with, and the clinic was amazing. For a young physician like me, it was important to have a good working environment and support behind it, and I definitely found that there. 

SCSC: What a wonderful experience. The Rouw’s are a staple in our facility. We’re happy you found a perfect fit! Since starting at the St. Cloud Surgical Center, what is your favorite part about being a podiatrist?

Dr. Tinawi: My favorite part about being a podiatrist is being able to pursue my passion: helping people. I am also surrounded by a team with that same passion; we’re all here for the same purpose, making us a strong unit. The St. Cloud Surgical Center is one of the most positive and friendly environments I have been in, and it makes my job easy. I can show up and do what I love successfully. 

SCSC: We love your passion. Have you always had a passion for podiatry, or did something happen in your life that led you here?

Dr. Tinawi: My heart has always been in medicine. Most of my family works in medicine, so I’ve been around it my whole life. When I started to shadow different areas, I found that podiatrists were some of the happiest doctors. It was clear they have a great work/life balance, which is important to me. Even though I don’t have a family of my own yet, I plan to one day, and felt this profession would be perfect for when that time comes. 

SCSC: We understand how important that blend is, especially for our doctors. Do you think podiatry is a well-understood field? 

Dr. Tinawi: No, and personally, that’s disappointing. Our profession is still kind of unknown. Patients come to us all the time confused because they think there’s a difference between podiatrists and foot and ankle surgeons when we’re really the same thing. Podiatrists aren’t only caring for nail beds and wounds; our scope is so broad. We fix bunions, general aches, foot and ankle breaks, and fractures. The list truly could go on and on. I think it’s important for patients and the general population to understand this. 

SCSC: Education is important for patients, so we’re here today. Do you have an area of focus as a podiatrist? What do you like to do the most? 

Dr. Tinawi: The thing about podiatry is that it’s a huge umbrella. I enjoy pediatric care, specifically sports medicine, but my passion lies in limb salvage and foot reconstruction. This can range from a toe amputation to trying any means necessary to save the foot, even collaborating with plastic surgery. Oh, and I also like helping anyone with foot deformities, not only life-threatening but lifestyle adjustment conditions.

SCSC: Since you started at the St. Cloud Surgical Center, what would you say is the most common podiatric surgery you perform?

Dr. Tinawi: At the SCSC, I haven’t seen a specific niche of surgeries yet. But my surgeries range from limb salvage to bunion corrections, and as I build up more of a patient population, it’s expanding into that reconstructive aspect as well. I’ve done a few of these and am looking forward to doing more in the future. 

SCSC: Let’s dive deeper into that. What is limb salvage?

Dr. Tinawi: Limb Salvage is an umbrella term in the medical world. For me, it comes down to saving the foot. The focus is not only to save the foot as a limb but to make sure it’s functional for the patient in the future. A large part of my training focused on ulcer care, especially in people with diabetes or neuropathic patients who see higher rates of amputation. Prevention is the best medicine, but if a patient comes to us when surgery is necessary, we’ll do that. At the end of the day, my goal is to save the foot and take amputation off the table. In our profession, we know that when you get an amputation at any level of your foot, your mortality rate decreases by five percent, so the more that we can help preserve, the better lifestyle we can offer for patients. 

SCSC: Five percent? Wow. We see why limb salvage is so important to you. Are you ready for our last question? 

Dr. Tinawi: Yes, let’s do it!

SCSC: As a surgeon, what does success look like to you? 

Dr. Tinawi: As a surgeon, success is, as cheesy as it sounds, instead of saying ‘happy wife, happy life,’ I say, ‘happy patient, happy life.’ It’s about having a career where I can use my skills to the best of my ability and help my patients return to optimal health. That’s not to say it’s always an easy task. There are many highs and lows along the way that surgeons have to accept. But if I can sleep at night knowing I have done my absolute best to help people, then I feel successful. 

SCSC: We love how you say ‘happy patient, happy life.’ That sums up our motto at St. Cloud Surgical Center. Thank you so much for your time, Dr. Tinawi. We have enjoyed chatting with you today and learning more about your passions as a podiatrist. We are excited to have you on our team and hope you have a prosperous career at Central Minnesota Foot and Ankle!

If you are experiencing foot or ankle pain, don’t wait to contact one of our experienced podiatrists. The solution you have been looking for could be right around the corner. Contact us today for more information.