Why ACFAS Members Should Stay In The APMA

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By John H. McCord, DPM

I have been a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) for 33 years. I joined the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) 14 years ago. I plan to continue my membership in both organizations. I voted against the proposed bylaw amendment for ACFAS to allow renewal of membership without membership in the APMA.
The ACFAS has done much to advance the scope and quality of podiatric foot and ankle surgery. However, I disagree with the college’s single pathway to fellowship. Diplomate status in the American Board of Podiatric Surgery is the only way to become a fellow in ACFAS. I believe there should be alternate pathways to fellowship. Perhaps the name should be changed to the American College of Foot and Ankle Science but that is a whole other editorial.
Were it not for the APMA, the fellows of the ACFAS would still be doing their surgical work in their offices.The APMA has fought the battles that have brought podiatric medicine and surgery from the status of fringe allied medical vendors to the status of physicians in the medical community. For that, I will never drop my membership in the APMA. I value both organizations for what they have achieved for our profession.
Having said all of that, I would remind the leadership of the APMA and the ACFAS that the ideal parasite is one that does not kill the host. Despite what the politicians are telling us, our economy is in recession.
Some of us are not feeling the recession as much as others. My home and cars are paid for. I mostly fly coach these days and when I cruise, I book less expensive state rooms rather than suites. That is as rough as the recession is on me in my old age. The young DPMs,who are just out of residency training, have huge student loan payments, sinking reimbursement for medical services and diminished volumes of insured patients.They are experiencing the recession trifecta.
The APMA and the ACFAS need to realize that many members and potential members need to prioritize their expenses. One has to pay the rent as well as license fees, malpractice insurance, staff payroll and medical supply bills. If any of these expenses is not paid, the doctor is out of business. A DPM can continue to practice without membership in the APMA or ACFAS.The reality is that most patients will not care. The leadership of our professional organizations needs to strive to hold down the cost of operation so dues can be reasonable.
When a doctor must choose between closing a practice and maintaining a membership certificate, the wall will have a few bare spots.
Travel is an area where professional organizations must control costs. If a meeting can be conducted with a conference call, there is no need to fly board members from all over the country and put them up in a Marriott for the weekend.
I served on an APMA committee a few years ago that met once yearly in Bethesda, Md. Ten committee members flew from all over the country and stayed in a Marriott hotel for the weekend.The annual meeting lasted from 60 to 90 minutes. Generally, we accomplished nothing.We approved the consent agenda and maintained the status quo, and then flew home. I attended about three of these meetings and then quit. I realized how much members’ money I was wasting on these junkets.
The APMA and ACFAS need to realize that membership dues are placed in their trust. Every penny that is spent should be justified. Members need to question expenses that seem unreasonable. Do we really need several hundred podiatrists traveling to the annual house of delegates meeting? Couldn’t most of the business be conducted in a linked teleconference?
Members of the ACFAS should remain in the APMA.There is a beneficial synergy created for us when the two organizations work together.The ACFAS is a smaller organization and will do just fine until a real crisis comes.The real crisis will be when that other non-podiatric foot and ankle club decides to encourage states to limit our scope of practice. When they see our house divided, they will see their opportunity.
Fellows of the ACFAS, get out your checkbooks and pay your APMA dues unless you look forward to trimming fungal nails all day.
 

Dr. McCord is a Diplomate with the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. He practices at the Centralia Medical Center in Centralia,Wash

 

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