President's Perspective October 2011
Wear & Tear
By Glenn M. Weinraub, DPM, FACFAS, President
Fall in San Francisco is perhaps the best climate in the country. This is when our days are warm and our fog looks so surreal it’s like Dali painted the sky. This is the time of year I especially enjoy running from my home and along the Embarcadero. I usually make it to AT&T Park where the Giants play and then I head back; the round trip is about 3.5 miles. Today I did one of those runs just after work. At about mile 2, I felt a searing pain in my left gastrocnemius muscle. I stopped immediately and so I think, as I write this, that I prevented a much more serious injury. I ended up performing the “walk of shame” home with a very slight limp.
Once home I gathered up my dog, Decker, for his routine pre-dinner walk. Decker is a handsome 12-year-old Golden Retriever. In human terms he is almost 80 years old. He still looks and acts like a puppy; he can still stop and command a belly rub from the most stoic-walking commuter. But sadly, like many 80-year-olds, Decker has a bum right shoulder and some dysplasia in his elbows; as such, he walks with a pronounced limp. As the two of us shuffled up Mission Street we looked at each other and I am certain we were both thinking the same thing, “What happened?”
This point was really driven home by the recent tenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. Most of us remember where we were on that horrible day as the events unfolded on live television. For myself I remember being in the middle of a run with Decker at my side. Decker has not been able to run with me for at least 2 years now.
All of this personal wear and tear over the last 10 years got me thinking about our collective journey as a profession. Intra- and inter-organizational politics aside, I had to ask myself, are we a better profession today as compared to yesterday? Are we more effective practitioners? Are we more entrenched in mainstream medicine?
Does the general public think of podiatric surgery and podiatric surgeons first and foremost when they are suffering? Has our literature and research clearly defined better diagnostic tools, better procedures, better techniques and better outcomes?
The fact is, while Decker and I suffer from the rules of biology and shortening telomeres, the profession has no such excuse. We all have an obligation to ensure that the profession of podiatric foot and ankle surgery continues to progress to the benefit of our future colleagues and the public we serve.
Recently I was fortunate to be present at a meeting that I believe will plant significant seeds of change. In short, a collaborative effort by the California Podiatric Medical Association (CPMA), the California Medical Association and the California Orthopaedic Association will work to elucidate the comparative strength of podiatric and allopathic medical educations. The probable outcome will form the basis for granting “Physician & Surgeon” status to DPM graduates in California.
But more importantly, this will herald a paradigm shift in the halls of medicine, whereby it is acknowledged that “equal” does not equate to “same.” That in fact four years of podiatric medical school followed by three years of residency will produce a doctor who is truly a “Physician & Surgeon” just like any other medical doctor or doctor of osteopathic medicine.
In general, seeds do not plant themselves, and in this case the seeds of change are being spread by Stephen C. Wan, DPM; Jon A. Hultman, DPM; Lawrence B. Harkless, DPM, and Michael J. Cornelison, DPM, of the CPMA and ACFAS.
With a positive outcome, the ramifications for the other 49 states would be substantial. On the one hand, this would provide a roadmap to true professional parity and on the other hand, it could provide the tipping point for real and meaningful action on a national scope of practice act.
As Decker and I finish our walk, I think we can both agree, the wear and tear has been worth it.
Questions for Dr. Weinraub? Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.