The PMA Identity Crisis: Where Do We Go From Here?

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Homisak says it is unnerving that the scope of practice for a PMA remains so ambiguous.
According to Lynn Homisak, PRT, the vast majority of doctors admit they have no idea what a PMA legitimately can and cannot do. Without this knowledge, she notes that doctors are left to make that determination themselves.
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Author(s): 
By Lynn Homisak, PRT

Additionally, she points out that podiatric assistants should have written job descriptions that reflect any state laws, required education and training, continuing education requirements, necessary supervision, etc. Does much of this sound familiar?

In Conclusion
It is no secret that I am an absolute advocate of training an assistant to the highest level possible and then utilizing those skills to the maximum potential. Without formal schooling, our lack of training makes certain a continued unstable career. My hope for our scope of practice is, that someday soon, our profession will realize the importance of defining the PMA role, help facilitate appropriate credentialing through a recognized educational process and help create a standard of identity that can be accepted throughout the country.
Based on the comments doctors nationwide have shared with me, the benefits of having an educated, skilled and clinically trained podiatric medical assistant on their team elevates the professionalism of their practice, greatly contributes to practice efficiency and, most importantly, to patient care. Moreover, legal standardization of the assistant’s role would provide a sense of “compliance comfort” when delegating duties (in much the same way that radiology standards have in some states).
In a profession where DPMs continuously struggle to maintain their unique identity as the foot and ankle specialists, it is not surprising that PMAs have followed in their footsteps. We are identified not by what we do but by who we are. Indeed, the podiatric medical profession should move to legitimize the displaced careers of the PMA and proudly position them alongside those of the medical and dental assistants. That leaves just one unanswered question: what are we waiting for?

Lynn Homisak, PRT, is a team partner and practice management consultant with SOS Healthcare Management Solutions, LLC (www.soshms.com). She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management (www.aappm.com). Homisak has lectured internationally to both doctors and assistants on staff management-related issues and has published numerous articles on associated topics.

For related articles, please visit the archives at www.podiatrytoday.com.

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