ACFAS Changes Dual APMA Membership Policy

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By Brian McCurdy, Senior Editor

In a change to a longstanding policy, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) recently lifted a requirement that renewing college members must maintain a membership in the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). The policy change only affects renewing members as new ACFAS members still must belong to APMA when they join the college. In a letter sent to the college membership, ACFAS President Daniel Hatch, DPM, noted that the college has been contacted by those who cite a financial hardship of having to belong to two groups, or have professional differences with various podiatric associations. Dr. Hatch says he has received “mixed” feedback from the membership following the decision. “The college maintains the policy promotes fairness by giving individuals the right to select options for themselves,” says Dr. Hatch. “We fully support the APMA and encourage members to join and maintain their membership. It is the college’s sincere belief that the policy change should not affect our working relationship with the APMA.” To that end, the ACFAS has adopted a policy that encourages its members to maintain APMA membership during their careers. Dr. Hatch’s letter notes that the college plans to continue working with the APMA on issues like professional parity, reimbursement, policy statements and other mutual concerns. How Will The Decision Affect The Groups’ Memberships? APMA President Christian Robertozzi, DPM, declined to comment on the issue. However, APMA Past President Lloyd Smith, DPM, believes the ACFAS decision “will harm both organizations” and urges the college’s membership to reverse the decision. He thinks the college and the association will each lose members, revenue and credibility. “The success of our profession has been, to some extent, based on our organizational unity. The ACFAS approach will end that unity and, ultimately, confound the opinions being offered by the podiatric profession on many critical issues,” opines Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith notes the issue has come up before as he recalls an ACFAS survey eight or nine years ago. He says the survey predicted the ACFAS would lose members if it discontinued the APMA membership requirement. Dr. Smith notes that the ACFAS, at that time, decided to maintain its affiliation with the APMA. During his tenure as APMA president, Dr. Smith urged the ACFAS “to be an integral part of the APMA process and contribute and be part of any relevant APMA activity.” He notes that he met with college leadership twice to that end. Lowell Scott Weil Sr., DPM, a Past President of ACFAS, supports the ACFAS decision. For 15 years, Dr. Weil says the ACFAS has struggled with the issue of “either offending APMA or being inclusive of board certified podiatric surgeons who would like to be members of ACFAS but who refuse to join their state society and, in turn, the APMA.” Dr. Weil says the APMA bylaws are “flawed” by mandating that its members belong to state podiatry associations. “I have heard from many who have ‘no use’ for their state society and believe that the dues are a waste,” says Dr. Weil. “Much of this came about when the guild was forced upon us at the state level and has been nothing more than a black hole for funds while APMA provided all of the leadership needed.” As Dr. Weil explains, in Illinois, one must join the guild to maintain membership in the Illinois Podiatric Medical Society and state society membership is a prerequesite for joining the APMA. Dr. Weil plans on continuing his 42-year membership in the APMA. He feels “(the APMA) plays an important role and has an infrastructure available to deal with the national issues of medicine and third party reimbursement.” Initially, Dr. Weil predicts that 5 to 10 percent of ACFAS members will leave the APMA due to discontent with state societies. However, he notes this will be offset by a surge of new members joining APMA from the list of board qualified and certified surgeons who wish to become members of the ACFAS and must join the APMA for at least one year. Dr. Weil also speculates that 1 to 2 percent of ACFAS members will feel ACFAS has made a mistake and resign membership. Yet on the other hand, Dr. Weil feels new membership in ACFAS by the previous “non-members” could reach 500 in the coming year. Other Suggestions And Perspectives Dr.

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