President's Perspective November 2017
"I wish I had an answer to that because I am tired of answering that question."
Laurence G. Rubin, DPM, FACFAS
There seems to be some confusion about the terms podiatrist versus foot and ankle surgeon and what exactly the difference is.
I was in a hospital meeting where we discussed changing our department
name to one that better defines what we do in the hospital—the
department of Foot and Ankle Surgery. One of my colleagues in another
specialty stated that I was not a foot and ankle surgeon—I was a
podiatrist. “That is why you went to podiatry school.” I found this
irritating because others were defining my profession.
of all, I did not attend “podiatry school.” There is no such thing!
There are colleges of podiatric medicine. Attending a college of
podiatric medicine made me a podiatric physician and surgeon. Similarly,
doctors who graduate from a college of medicine are allopathic
physicians, while doctors who graduate from a college of osteopathic
medicine are osteopathic physicians. Being a podiatric physician does
not define our profession, it defines our medical degree. Our profession
or trade is defined by what we do after our medical education, much the
same as our allopathic and osteopathic colleagues. Allopathic and
osteopathic physicians do not define themselves by their education. They
do not state “I am an allopathic orthopaedic surgeon,” or “I am an
osteopathic vascular surgeon.” They simply state their profession: “I am
an orthopaedic surgeon.” Why would we be any different?
by education we are podiatric physicians. Some of us go on to be
podiatrists. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a
podiatrist. These doctors perform a much needed service that no other
profession provides. Others, including all ACFAS members, go on to train
to become foot and ankle surgeons. We do our residencies in foot and
ankle surgery, not in podiatry.
training, virtually all medical specialties demonstrate competence in
their field by becoming board certified. We become board certified in
foot surgery and rearfoot and ankle surgery, not in podiatry. No other specialty has a board certification for foot and ankle surgery. The entity that certifies us is the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, and a few years ago, they went through a crucial name change to more accurately define what we do.
after becoming board certified in their field of expertise, doctors join
one or more professional societies that provide lifelong education and
services and help to advance patient care. We have joined the American
College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Seventy-five years ago, our founders
could have chosen a dozen different names, but they wisely chose the
American College of Foot Surgeons. And, we defined our profession even
further in 1991 when we became the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
do our residencies in foot and ankle surgery, become board certified by
the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery in foot surgery and
rearfoot surgery and become members of the American College of Foot and
Ankle Surgeons. If that doesn’t make you a foot and ankle Surgeon, then