Making Interprofessional Education A Priority To Improve Podiatric Parity

Kathleen Satterfield DPM FACFAOM

Much like John Lennon challenged, “Imagine all the people sharing all the world.” Can you imagine a medical educational system that encompasses MDs, DOs, RNs, PTs and all of the other healthcare providers, including DPMs? Imagine how productive it would be to teach other professions what a podiatrist is capable of doing with his or her education and three year training models, using real life cases to illustrate this model.

There would even be some cases in which the DPM took the leading role with MDs and DOs as the support team. This collaborative class work would be required by the accrediting bodies, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the Committee on College Accreditation (COCA) and Council on Podiatric Medical Education (CPME). Wow, now that is hard to imagine, isn’t it? Maybe not. This is already a requirement by the LCME and COCA.

Medical doctors and doctors of osteopathic medicine being required to take classes about what a podiatric physician and surgeon can do for their patients? Who would dare to dream that such a thing is possible? Well, I am a dreamer but this futuristic idea seems as farfetched as “Imagine there's no countries/It isn't hard to do.”

Believe it or not, through the efforts of educators outside of podiatric medicine, this style of education is going on right now. What? You haven’t heard of it? I am not surprised.

On our road to parity, we have made some incredible progress: the ability to prescribe Schedule II medications and the ability to practice in hospitals and do surgery in hospital operating rooms. However, we cannot ignore this new educational wave called Interprofessional Education (IPE).

I have just returned from an international conference (Collaborating Across Borders III) on this subject and it sold out in advance of the meeting. They had to stop taking registrations because they had filled three hotels to capacity with eager physicians and healthcare providers of all stripes who want to work together and for one reason: better outcomes for patients.

This is another “wow” moment for me. We have been invited to the planning not because podiatric medicine and surgery has reached a pinnacle of popularity but because all of the other healthcare providers want better outcomes for patients and welcome us there. Our patients’ needs have opened the door to parity for us.

As a profession, we have to step up now and give Interprofessional Education the same respect as the other professions do. Podiatry and the CPME need to establish IPE as a requirement for re-accreditation (or accreditation) of our colleges.

This is already in the accreditation requirements for allopathic, osteopathic, pharmacy, nursing and a host of other professions. We are the “odd man” out again but it is not too late to remedy this. The Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science has been doing this for at least several years and the Western University College of Podiatric Medicine has had this in place since it opened its doors. Now Des Moines University’s College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery has also joined the IPE ranks. There may be others who are doing this as well and I would like to hear about it.

I am fortunate to be on the forefront of this educational revolution as the Co-Director of Interprofessional Education at Western University. Hopefully, this will make a difference in future referral patterns, respect and collegiality.

We have been invited in to the discussion. Let’s not disrespect this invitation. Let’s make this a priority.


Can we complain about professional discrimination when our own boards divide the profession?
Why are some DPMs ineligible to apply to ACFAOM? Are our residencies so different?
Who benefits from this?

Our colleagues run the boards. The boards aren't dividing us. We are dividing us. This isn't a criticism whatsoever. It's the reality we are dealing with right now.

The bylaws of ACFAOM require ABPOPPM Qualification/Certification to apply for membership, much like the surgical counterpart with ACFAS requiring ABPS status. If you did not participate in a POR or PPMR residency, then you are not eligible to sit for the ABPOPPM board examination. Simple as that.

The real question is now that residencies are somewhat standard (all are 3 years), what will happen to all these different boards/colleges?

I think the point you bring up is valid but I think it shows just how great a need there is in the podiatric profession for unity in both the caliber of the education provided and in the expectations of DPM physicians.

This profession is relatively young and still in need of refinement. I think that the interdisciplinary approach to education is a good thing, and this as well as the changes being made to residency program requirements will only further the development of podiatric medicine. I think that these changes will provide a better outlook to the profession and will also lead to a better applicant pool for the podiatric schools. These are all different routes that aim towards professional parity, which ultimately leads to better patient care.

Why would ABPOPPM exclude any licensed podiatrist? Make the exam hard but do not make absurd rules. The states respect our education and experience more than our boards.
What happened to PPMR and POR? If they were so special, where can I find them now so that I can qualify for ABPOPPM?

Dr. Raducanu, thanks for your answer but it would be nice if ABPOPPM chose to represent all podiatrists.

Dr. Gertsik,

I think that you should look into why these boards/colleges were initiated and how the various residencies came about.

Every profession is in constant evolution. Things that were valid 20 years ago may not be so anymore for a variety of reasons.

We already have a body that represents all podiatrists (whether they are members or not), the APMA.

Why exactly should the ABPOPPM represent all podiatrists? Or the ABPS? The reason is for standardization. What is today's standard vs. what it was 20 years ago?

Why would a primary podiatric board not accept all podiatrists? What do they benefit from this?
I think if they are unfair to podiatrists, APMA and CPME should not endorse them.

Please tell me what part of non-surgical podiatric medicine I am not qualified to practice, based on ABPOPPM standards. Somebody has decided that my CPME-approved RPR was not as good as PPMR.

I can practice podiatric medicine in any state but cannot ever be board certified in it. Thanks a lot, ABPOPPM!

How about a little basic fairness to fellow podiatrists before dreaming about parity with MDs?

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