Having practiced for 35 years, I have seen quite an evolution of the profession of podiatry. There have always seemed to be many "crises" on the horizon. Despite this, our profession has moved on and survived.
Today, practicing as a podiatrist, you see many problems, not all of which require surgical intervention. Also with the decrease in reimbursements and the rising cost of malpractice insurance, one must consider how much surgery you choose to perform. It may be interesting to listen to presentations of some "exotic procedures" at a seminar but in reality, not many podiatrists see them in the average practice.
Requiring a three-year residency may seem to elevate our profession but if there are "78 more applications for residencies than there are slots available," what are those 78 graduates to do? If they have been able to do well enough to obtain a DPM, is it fair to not allow them to practice because there are not enough residencies available? Who would want to enter a profession where you could achieve four years of education, a degree and amass a considerable debt, but not be able to practice your profession? This doesn't sound like a good gamble to me.
Not all podiatrists can be great surgeons but you can obtain great satisfaction from helping people to feel and function better. Over 35 years, I have treated many patients - the frightened child, the weekend warrior, the everyday worker, the nursing home resident and enjoyed all of it. Having someone leave the office after a "minor procedure" and say "Doc, that feels much better" is satisfaction that you receive everyday. You can't say that about every job.
I only hope that those graduating today and in the future (whether or not there is a 3-year residency requirement) can enjoy their years of practice as much as I have and continue to do everyday.
As a 29-year practicing podiatrist on the north shore of Chicago who was 'overlooked' for residency training and opted for a 2-year preceptorship (anyone remember that term?), I find it fascinating that the podiatry community is STILL having this in-house confrontation.
I have been wildly successful with the admiration of ALL medical disciplines and my thousands of grateful patients of ALL ethnicities. If you are a young person with personality disorders that drive you to self-loathing, podiatry does NOT need you. Get out now!
Margaret Buckner-Lawson, DPM
A three-year residency is a must for anyone who ever hopes to compete against the foot orthopedists. However, not all podiatrists aspire to be the "go to" foot surgeon in their area. Couple this with the facts that most podiatrists make the majority of their living in the office (not the hospital) and that there are not enough three-year residencies to go around.
Why not make two-year year residency training mandatory and then just add surgical fellowships for those who apply and are accepted?
I graduated a 3-year surgical residency program and have been in private practice since 2006. I am currently board qualified and have met enough cases to sit for both the foot and rearfoot boards next year. With my training, I feel comfortable in tackling any foot or ankle pathology that enters through my office doors.
This is what podiatry should be in the 21st century! We should be trained to the fullest extent possible. We are podiatrists and as such, we should be able to treat any pathology of the foot and ankle from bare onychomycosis and routine foot care to flatfoot reconstruction (it is the foot isn't it?)and more.
A 3-year residency should be the standard. Anyone who does not want to become a surgeon should not become a podiatrist. They should look for another profession.
Things have changed. Welcome to the 21st century! By the way, I have no problem doing routine foot care at all. I am a podiatrist.
I am very happy with my career choice. I am able to enjoy a comfortable living and am paying my student loans easily. I have admitting privileges at my local hospital and am well respected in the local medical community.
I do not believe every podiatrist needs to be a surgeon. I don't think that every podiatrist wants to be a surgeon. Not every dentist is forced to be an oral surgeon. There is a great need for non-surgical podiatry! A busy surgical podiatrist hasn't the time for all the routine foot care. There can be a great referral pattern between the two.
I truly believe that gaining knowledge is to anyone's benefit. I have been in practice many years too, have become the Chief of Staff at my hospital and I will be proud to have well trained podiatrists, who, besides doing surgery, care for their patients. We all stand proud for the colleagues that brought us here and for the new breed that will take us far.
I am currently an undergraduate student who would like to pursue a career in podiatry. After reading all these comments, I must admit that I am second guessing my choice to go into podiatry. I love everything that podiatry has to offer - being your own boss, doing some surgery, specializing right away, but the bureaucracy of our/your profession is appalling!
How can you expect to attract young bright people to your profession if you have so many negative opinions? I truly believe podiatry can be a rewarding career and is for many of you. That being said, you need to get your act together before people like me will be one hundred percent confident on joining your profession. You owe it to yourselves and to young people like me who are genuinely interested in curing ailments of the lower extremity.
If the shortage of PM&S-36 residency slots can be solved, I think it is a great idea to move to all PM&S-36 programs. I recently graduated from a PM&S-36 residency program in 2009. I really enjoyed my well rounded training in both medicine and surgery. Now in private practice, I find myself reflecting back on the knowledge I learned from my infectious disease rotation, internal medicine rotation, vascular sx, etc. I really do feel confident discussing issues related to diabetes, CHF, PVD etc. with the patient's PCP.
During my training I was exposed to a lot of different types of forefoot and rearfoot surgery. Although I logged many cases, I enjoy treating patients more conservatively and I am okay with referring PTTD with PT tendon tears, etc., to other podiatrists who have developed a passion for a more surgically based practice.
By completing a 3-year program, I gained an appreciation for what goes into the various surgeries to correct foot and ankle conditions, but this doesn't mean I have to do every surgery I learned. I learned what surgeries I feel comfortable doing and which ones I know I want to refer to my colleagues who enjoy doing them.
This is a fantastic profession and I am so happy I have chosen it. There are so many wonderful relationships you build with your patients and you can be treated like a hero by them for doing simple procedures such as taking out an infected ingrown toenail or treating a foot ulcer. If any potential student would like to shadow me or if you have any questions, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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