Harkless Heads Up New Podiatry School

By Brian McCurdy, Senior Editor

The podiatry profession will welcome its ninth college under the leadership of a DPM with decades of experience in education. Western University of Health Sciences School of Podiatric Medicine will start classes in 2009 under the helm of Lawrence Harkless, DPM.    Dr. Harkless became the college’s first Dean on July 1 and has begun planning the school’s curriculum. He recently retired from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio after serving as a Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics and as the Louis T. Bogy Professor of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery.    Dr. Harkless says the new college, which will be located in Pomona, Calif., has slots for 50 students, who will matriculate in September 2009. The university’s Web site notes it will undergo the accreditation process through the Council on Podiatric Medical Education and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.    Western University was founded in 1977 and has about 1,500 students involved in various medical disciplines, according to the school’s Web site. In addition to the podiatry school, the university also plans to open dental and optometry schools. Dr. Harkless says the new podiatry school offers a “huge opportunity” for clinical training in three counties in the school area.

Emphasizing Active Recruitment And Education On The Role Of Podiatry

The potential applicant pool consists of about 800 students for the existing colleges of podiatric medicine, notes Dr. Harkless. He says California currently graduates about 20 to 30 DPMs a year. He intends to change the landscape of the applicant pool, saying he will actively recruit potential podiatry students by going to schools and educating potential applicants.    Beyond recruiting new students, Dr. Harkless wants to integrate podiatry further into the medical environment and stress the comprehensive nature of the profession. At Western University, he says DPMs will have a good opportunity to educate the students of other medical specialties about all that podiatry has to offer.    “That means 2,000 students will know about podiatric medicine from day one. That is huge,” notes Dr. Harkless of the school’s students of other medical disciplines. “(Podiatrists) treat the entire foot by any systems or means and I do not think other health disciplines know that.”    Dr. Harkless emphasizes teaching podiatry students that they can be anything they want to be in healthcare. In his new venture, he plans to be visible in motivating students. Even with an additional podiatric medical school, he feels there will be a “tremendous need” for podiatrists as the population ages.    “A good, comprehensive podiatrist will be worth his or her weight in gold,” says Dr. Harkless. “As the population grows, we need to take care of the comprehensive needs of the patient.”

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