Freedom Of Choice: Another Perspective On The APMA/ACFAS Debate
- Gary Jolly DPM FACFAS
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Living in America, we are blessed with freedom, which allows us to choose the college or university we would like our children to attend. We have the right of choice when it comes to purchasing cars, houses or any other entity that has value to us. We also have the right and obligation to choose our legislators, and we can belong to any political party we choose.
However, prior to 2007, members of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) who were also Fellows of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) were denied this freedom of choice. The APMA requires podiatrists to be members of the APMA before we can join any professional association.
I do not know about the rest of you but I resent being told that in order to belong to the ACFAS, I must be a member of the APMA. I belong to the APMA because my state association is very effective and I feel my membership is worth the fees. However, in order to belong to my state association, I must first be an APMA member.
We are the only medical profession that has a parent organization with such a policy. Why? Is it because the leadership of the APMA believes our intellect is somehow inadequate? It seems that the leadership of the APMA feels that its members are not competent to choose which organization they should belong to.
I think the APMA leadership has underestimated the importance of the ACFAS and have overestimated their own worth. The change in policy by the ACFAS has clearly not hurt the ACFAS. In fact, our membership has increased over the last year. What about the APMA? Is the APMA really suffering? I think not. In order to retain members in any organization, the organization should provide services to its membership so individuals should want to join on their own.
I am a foot and ankle surgeon. I do not perform routine podiatry care in my practice. Accordingly, the ACFAS and the activities of the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) provide me with the best information available. If truth be told, I have more in common with the members of the AOFAS than I do with the APMA.
What is the message that needs to be sent to the APMA? Grow up. I am proud to be a Fellow of the ACFAS. I cannot imagine why the APMA wants to start a second-rate surgical organization. Who would want to belong to an ersatz organization when a mature and strong surgical organization is available? I extend my condolences to the leadership of the APMA. If they wanted to irritate foot and ankle surgeons, they have succeeded admirably.