The scope of podiatric practice has changed significantly in the past couple of decades. Despite the increased quality of training, many people outside of podiatry may not realize what our scope of practice entails.
We conducted a survey consisting of 10 items and asked internal medicine residents at Rush University Medical Center and patients whether they would feel comfortable consulting podiatrists, or being treated for each issue.
The results for residents are as follows: 1) toenail fungus, 35% yes and 65% no; 2) diabetic wound care, 87.5% yes and 12.5% no; 3) bunion surgery, 90% yes and 10% no; 4) ankle fracture surgery, 25% yes and 75% no; 5) calcaneal fracture surgery, 50% yes and 50% no; 6) tarsal tunnel nerve surgery, 62.5% yes and 37.5% no; 7) lower extremity arterial bypass, 5% yes and 95% no; 8) below-knee amputation, 5% yes and 95% no; 9) transmetatarsal amputation, 67.5% yes and 32.5% no; and 10) venous stasis wound care, 65% yes and 35% no. The results for patients are as follows: 1) toenail fungus, 72.5% yes and 27.5% no; 2) diabetic wound care, 70% yes and 30% no; 3) bunion surgery, 62.5% yes and 37.5% no; 4) ankle fracture surgery, 57.5% yes and 42.5% no; 5) calcaneal fracture surgery, 55% yes and 45% no; 6) tarsal tunnel nerve surgery, 50% yes and 50% no; 7) lower extremity arterial bypass, 32.5% yes and 67.5% no; 8) below-knee amputation, 27.5% yes and 72.5% no; 9) transmetatarsal amputation, 52.5% yes and 47.5% no; and 10) venous stasis wound care, 32.5% yes and 67.5% no.
Internal medicine residents and patients do not have an accurate perception of the scope of podiatric medicine. This proves that, as a profession, we need to raise awareness about what the podiatric scope of medicine actually entails.
Medical students (MSs) in allopathic and osteopathic medical programs may not be adequately exposed to the role of podiatric physicians and surgeons in health care. We explored perceptions of the specialty field of podiatric medicine from the perspective of MSs in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area.
In this cross-sectional survey study, responses regarding podiatric education and scope of practice were collected via a 16-question, self-reported, anonymous online survey distributed to MSs at one osteopathic and three allopathic medical schools in the Philadelphia area. Inferences and conclusions were drawn from the percentages of respondents. Statistical analyses for school of attendance, year of study, and physician relative subgroups were performed.
The 129 survey responses obtained revealed misunderstandings regarding podiatric education and training. Only 45.7% correctly answered that podiatric medical students do not take the United States Medical Licensing Examination. The results also showed the perception of podiatry in a positive light, with approximately 80% of respondents agreeing that the term doctor is applicable when referring to a podiatrist. Respondents with a physician relative were more likely to rate podiatry's role in health care higher on a scale from 0 (inessential) to 5 (equivalent to MDs/DOs) than those without a physician relative.
The results of this preliminary survey were generally positive and optimistic while also identifying some misconceptions regarding MS perceptions of podiatric medical training and scope of practice. Further studies are needed to evaluate perceptions of podiatry from the perspective of other members of the health-care team to improve interprofessional relations and understanding.