What Boards And Organizations Are Doing For You

By Brian McCurdy, Associate Editor

APMA. ACFAS. ABPOPPM. A glance at the acronyms of the various podiatric organizations can fill you with visions of alphabet soup. For those just starting out in podiatry or those who are trying to cut back on how many organization fees they’re paying each year, choosing from among these organizations can be very daunting. The question has to be asked: What are the goals of these boards and organizations and what will they do for you? The types of organizations run the gamut from state societies and educational organizations to practice management groups. To join some groups, you’ll no doubt need certification or face testing from other groups. Many charge dues for their services. In exchange, those in the know say the organizations can offer you annual meetings, scientific journals and an enhancement of your professional skills. Assessing The Benefits Of APMA Membership The lion’s share of the country’s 13,000-plus podiatrists, or about 80 percent, belong to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). It has 53 component societies in the country, including state societies and 22 affiliated societies, according to its Web site, www.apma.org. Some state societies, like the New York State Podiatric Medical Association, include APMA membership as part of the state dues. Many other organizations require their members to belong to the APMA. On its Web site, the APMA offers resources as well as an extensive code of ethics covering medical and business aspects in podiatry. The APMA also runs a well-attended annual scientific meeting that will be held in Washington, D.C. in August. The APMA’s official journal is the bimonthly, peer-reviewed Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, which has been published since 1907. The journal features research studies, literature reviews and association news. As far as educational initiatives go, the APMA runs the non-profit Foot Health Foundation. The foundation not only informs the public of foot and ankle care in the form of care guidelines and early detection, it also helps to educate referring physicians and managed care organizations on podiatric health issues. It also supports educational opportunities for future podiatrists. The American Podiatric Medical Association also is affiliated with the American Association of Hospital and Healthcare Podiatrists, Inc. (AAHHP). The non-profit group helps APMA members maintain staff membership in hospitals and other health care facilities, and promotes educational programs in hospitals, among other functions. Members of the AAHHP must belong to the APMA and also may attend an annual meeting and receive a newsletter. Understanding Two Key Organizations That Support Podiatric Medical Education The APMA also operates the Council on Podiatric Medical Education and the Fund for Podiatric Medical Education, which has given over $1 million in scholarships to podiatric students. The council receives its authority from the APMA House of Delegates and is charged with overseeing the accreditation of colleges of podiatric medicine and programs for podiatric medical assistants. It also handles the approval of residency programs and sponsors of continuing education as well as the recognition of specialty certifying boards for podiatric medical practice. Both the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the U.S. Secretary of Education recognize the council as the accrediting agency for first professional degree programs in podiatric medicine. The Council on Podiatric Medical Education has itself established the Joint Committee on the Recognition of Specialty Boards (JCRSB), a committee composed of representatives of the podiatric profession, specialty boards, licensing bodies, the health care community and the public. The scholarship arm of the APMA is its Fund for Podiatric Medical Education (FPME). The fund began in 1959 as a tax-exempt organization involved in research and loan funds for students. In 1991, it began to provide scholarships to podiatric medical students. To date, the fund has awarded $1.3 million in scholarships to nearly 1,000 scholarship recipients, with awards averaging $1,300 per student, according to the APMA. The Fund for Podiatric Medicine distributes scholarship money among the seven colleges of podiatric medicine, based on their attendance.

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