As I was preparing for this week’s graduation ceremonies, I started to reflect on how far podiatric medical education has come.
In recent years, graduates of our podiatric residency program have been included with all of our health system’s residency graduates in a celebratory lavish graduation dinner/dance at a local cultural institution. It was barely a decade ago that the podiatric resident graduation was held separately without support from the hospital and the extent of the festivities was dependent upon the generosity of the podiatric attending physicians
While the flashy celebration is nice, it is an outward appearance of how the disparity and hospital attitudes between podiatric and medical graduate education are rapidly dissipating. Our podiatry residents are now fully incorporated into the health system's medical education department. They receive comparable pay, benefits and education allowances. A decade ago, the podiatric residents were making one quarter of the pay of their allopathic/osteopathic counterparts without the benefits and allowances.
Podiatric residents are now considered a viable part of the medical team with the same expectations and responsibilities as the medical residents while they are on rotations.
Administrative staff support now comes from the hospital’s medical education department as opposed to coming from my private office staff. Previously, residents have had to use typewriters from the medical records department after hours to type surgical logs. Now the residents complete their logs over the Internet on podiatric medical education program computers provided through capital support of the hospital.
While all of these changes are wonderful and have been hard-fought victories, the greatest improvement is the new structure of podiatric medical education itself. With all podiatric residency programs converting to a single podiatric/medical/surgical format, this “uniformity” has gone a long way toward decreasing the disparity between podiatric medical education both within the profession as well as between podiatric education and medical education.
Previously, there was a tremendous variation in the training programs for podiatry. It was difficult for credentials committees to understand how a podiatry resident from one hospital may have much better training than a resident from another hospital even though they both trained for the same length of time. The development of core curriculum competencies is effectively reducing the differences between podiatric residency programs. The result of this standardization is greater uniform consistency and allopathic recognition and acceptance. As a profession, we are clearly the leader in foot and ankle surgery, and are just now assuming our rightful place in the medical community.
Now that our profession has structural consistency in its graduate education, as well as increasing respect and equality within the overall health care medical education system, I am personally looking forward to the next decade of podiatric medical graduate education and the future of our profession.