A Closer Look At The State Of Podiatric Residency Training

Author(s): 
Alan Catanzariti, DPM, FACFAS, and Robert Mendicino, DPM, FACFAS

   Residents enter their training programs with excitement and enthusiasm. All of them want to participate and contribute to the research process. However, they need direction and structure, which the program director and faculty should ultimately provide. Without direction, their enthusiasm will soon wane.

   We need to increase the number of formal DPM and PhD programs, such as the combined degree program at Rosalind Franklin University. These combined degree programs educate physician-scientists who will be able to conduct high-level research, apply for National Institutes of Health grants, etc. We have several PhDs who have later become DPMs and vice-versa.

   However, we need a program that students can enter and consider a career in research. We need to promote and encourage these types of programs, not to mention making them affordable. We also need to guarantee these graduates obtain residency positions that allow them an opportunity to conduct quality research.

Cultivating Leadership Skills

The future leaders of our profession will begin their leadership training during their residency. I am sure there are certain individuals who are “born to lead” and leadership qualities seem to develop naturally for them.

   However, there are very few people who fit this category. Although most residents have some baseline skills, some are naturally better at it than others. People can learn, develop and hone leadership skills. Unfortunately, our residents do not really have time to study leadership skills and it is difficult to find time to include leadership training in our curriculum. The traditional leadership mode (hierarchical, intimidating, etc.) is no longer considered a successful approach and is not tolerated in a clinical setting.

   Rather, our residents must understand the importance of leadership qualities such as fairness, consistency and predictability. They must learn how successful leaders seek input, spread authority, treat people with respect, do not dictate and challenge those around them. Our future American Podiatric Medical Association leaders and state association presidents will be trained through our residency programs. The future American Board of Podiatric Surgery, ACFAS, and American Board of Podiatric Orthopedics and Primary Podiatric Medicine leaders will also come through our training programs. We will also be training future program directors and hospital administrators, not to mention community leaders.

   Maybe we should consider formal leadership training in our residency programs. This could be something as simple as a lecture series or required reading. We certainly have the opportunity to serve as role models for our residents but is that enough? Maybe our residents need to understand that they are preparing for something more than just practice. They need to develop leadership skills that will serve them, their families, their communities and their professional development for the rest of their lives.

Helping Graduates Stay Out Of Debt And Make Better Financial Decisions

A major issue that will eventually affect the entire profession is our student indebtedness. Medical students are graduating with an average indebtedness of $180,000. This is before residency training and possible student loan forbearance.

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