College Offers Accelerated DO Program For DPMs

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By Brian McCurdy, Associate Editor

   Adding a new twist to the ongoing debate about dual degrees for podiatrists, the Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-COM) recently announced that two podiatrists have enrolled in the college’s new, accelerated doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) program. College officials say the program is the first of its kind developed specifically for DPMs.

   The program was formulated in association with the American Board of Podiatric Orthopedics and Primary Podiatric Medicine, according to Leonard A. Levy, DPM, MPH, an Associate Dean for Education, Planning and Research at NSU-COM in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The program leads to a DO in three years and Dr. Levy says it saves one year of podiatric medicine and Surgery-24 residency.

   After students finish a year of classes to supplement their medical knowledge, Dr. Levy says they then take required clinical rotations in medicine, family medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, pediatrics and rural medicine at hospitals and clinics affiliated with NSU-COM.

   Those with DPM/DO degrees will be able to offer enhanced care for patients with podiatric problems or pedal problems with systemic manifestations and in patients with concurrent medical conditions unrelated to the lower extremities, notes Dr. Levy, a Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at NSU-COM. He says the program will teach DPMs to use osteopathic manipulative medicine as an adjunct to podiatric medicine.

   Khiem Vu, DPM, one podiatrist who enrolled in NSU-COM’s osteopathic program, concurs. He says he wants to learn more about the medical management of systemic diseases of the lower extremity.

    “As podiatric physicians, we often are asked to manage specific podiatric manifestations of systemic disease and we are very well trained and qualified to do so,” says Dr. Vu, a graduate of Barry University. “However, in certain cases, we often have to limit our treatment for the patient because of the underlying systemic disease. By increasing our training to manage the medical aspect of the patient, podiatric physicians can provide comprehensive care in a timely fashion for the patient.”

   Richard Bui, DPM, agrees. A graduate of Barry University, Dr. Bui has also enrolled in the DO program and believes it may be helpful when it comes to treating those who need prompt attention for conditions that are not specific to the foot and ankle.

    “My hope is that DO program will help enhance my confidence when approaching patients who need immediate attention in regard to medical problems, such as diabetes management or heart problems,” notes Dr. Bui.
   Both Drs. Bui and Vu also completed one year of their podiatric residencies to be eligible for the program.

Will The DO Degree Enhance Referrals And Revenue?

   Dr. Levy says the dual degree may increase patient referrals for podiatrists. He points out that some patients, especially those with concurrent health problems and with medical problems that have podiatric manifestations, may have more confidence in seeing DPMs who are also fully licensed physicians.

   Dr. Bui agrees that having both degrees will increase the attractiveness of podiatry among the public due to the convenience of being treated in “one-stop shopping.” Referrals would increase for those with a DPM/DO since doctors will be confident that one will take good care of their patients.

    “The elderly population will be two-thirds of the population in the decades to come,” says Dr. Bui. “Of course, they will want a physician who can treat them from head to toe rather than go from specialist to specialist to get the treatment they need.”

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