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.