President's Perspective February 2012
By Glenn M. Weinraub, DPM, FACFAS, President
Well, here it is, my last President’s Perspective. I suppose the traditional route would be to write about what a great year it has been and how much our College has accomplished in the last 12 months. And in fact, this was exactly the tact I had been planning on, until I picked up the biography of Steve Jobs. It was not only an excellent read; it also contained an important perspective regarding what is truly important during our lives and careers.
Think back to when you were a medical student, a resident, and now a practitioner. Think how your perspective during those three stations of life has allowed you to view seemingly static situations with different eyes and different expectations. Let’s take a moderate hallux valgus deformity as an example. How much different is your approach today compared to how it would have been when you were a student? Now apply this to the profession of foot and ankle surgery as a whole. Talk about perspective!
One of Steve Jobs’ life tenets is that "the best way to predict the future is to invent it." I can think of no better doctrine for this profession and for this College.
Clearly ACFAS is in excellent shape today. We have the best scientific conference in the world. We publish the most clinically relevant and the most-widely circulated scientific journal, the Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery. Our membership is at an all-time high and growing. We have a superb staff. And in my opinion, we have in our ranks the brightest thinkers and the most skilled foot and ankle surgeons, bar none. I'd say this is a pretty good start for inventing our future!
So where do we go now?
We must continue to evolve. My old perspective was that we should, in time, eliminate the DPM degree in favor of the MD degree, but my personal perspective has changed over the years. I now believe we should propel the DPM degree forward. The concept of being the same, yet also being different needs to take life within our degree. There is no reason why we, as DPMs, should not enjoy the same basic medical training as any other MD or DO and yet still possess a level of expertise regarding the foot and ankle that far exceeds our esteemed medical colleagues?
I see three tasks ahead of us:
1. Fellowships —This type of specialized training needs to grow in number and variety. This will be the tool by which individuals can professionally express their expertise and creativity.
2. The Schools —Some of our medical schools have already started to invent the future by collaborating or even merging with mainstream medical schools, but some have not - and to those I ask, why not? The modern podiatric surgeon functions in the allopathic world, so there is no excuse to train a student outside of that world. The natural progression of this key change is to start a domino effect which yields increased exposure to research, greater acceptance into academic health centers, publication of more Level 1 studies, and more dual degreed DPMs.
3. The Residencies —A standardized threeyear program was a great start, but it was only a start. The days of “stand alone” programs are over. Our training programs need to take place in numerous academic physical sites with a variety of attendees from all degree backgrounds. “Exposure” is the key to developing the best foot and ankle surgeons in the world.
Steve Jobs had a way to see the possible in the impossible though what his colleagues deemed the "reality distortion field." This is what formed the basis for the success of Apple, Inc. I am hopeful that there is a little bit of Steve Jobs in all of us.
Thank you for allowing me to serve the College and you as your president. It has been a wonderful experience to watch our profession invent its own future every day.
Questions for Dr. Weinraub? Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.