certified foot and ankle specialist

Ft Lauderdale - 954-561-3338 | Coconut Creek - 954-979-0505 | Coral Springs - 954-753-3030
Boca Raton - 561-995-0229 | West Boynton Beach - 561-369-2199
West Palm Beach - 561-357-9330 | Palm City - 772-288-3338

The Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeon

The Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeon

Board Certified in Foot Surgery and Reconstructive Rearfoot and Ankle Surgery

The question is often raised: “Who is the most
appropriate specialist to promptly diagnose and treat patients with foot
and ankle injuries in a caring, cost effective and time sensitive
fashion?” Traditionally these injuries have been referred to
Orthopedists, but with the evolution of a new generation of highly
trained surgical Podiatrists, now a choice exists.

Education of the Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeon

After graduating from college, four years of
medical school are required by both the Podiatrist and the Orthopedist.
The Podiatrist graduates from Podiatric Medical School as a Doctor of
Podiatric Medicine (DPM) while the Orthopedist becomes either a Medical
Doctor (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). The curricula for
these programs are extremely similar with a few very important
differences. In fact, in many cases, allopathic, osteopathic and
podiatric medical students actually share the classroom for didactic
lectures and complete the same clinical rotations side by side.

The first two years in each of the above programs
consist of didactic classes and labs in the basic medical sciences
including subjects such as gross anatomy, biochemistry, physiology,
histology, pathology, pharmacology, microbiology, etc. The last two
years consist of lectures and rotations in the clinical sciences and
include the major medical specialties such as internal medicine,
emergency medicine, general surgery, anesthesia, radiology, etc.

However, differences in the curricula allow the
Podiatrist to begin to focus on their future area of expertise. During
the first two years of school, Podiatric medical students take two
courses in Lower Extremity Anatomy (in addition to gross anatomy) and
two in human functional biomechanics. This time is allowed in their
schedule by requiring the student to attend summer classes. The
Podiatric medical student also receives and is expected to keep current
with the major peer reviewed journals of the field including the Journal
of the American Podiatric Medical Association and the Journal of Foot
and Ankle Surgery. Even at this early stage of their career, these
students begin to develop a thirst for knowledge in the field of foot
and ankle surgery.

During the second two years, the curricula differ
in that the Podiatric student also completes classes, rotations and
“externships” in clinical Podiatric Medicine and Surgery in place of
less related specialties such as, OB/GYN, Psychiatry, etc. The
externships, which focus on specific areas of interest in Podiatric
Medicine and Surgery such as Sports Medicine, Trauma, Reconstructive
Surgery, Office Podiatry, etc. are selected by the student and located
around the country. It is during this time that the student chooses the
area of Podiatry in which he or she would like to focus. In the case of
the Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeon, by the completion of the fourth
year of school, the student is extremely familiar with foot and ankle
surgery, related diseases and conditions, as he or she has now,
externed, interviewed and been selected for a foot and ankle surgical
residency program.

The Orthopedic Surgeon completes four years of medical school with no initial focused lower extremity training. After graduation, he/she will enter into a five year general orthopedic residency. Current
orthopedic residency training guidelines are vague and do not require
specific experience or proficiency in foot and ankle surgery. A study in 2003 found that 35% of all orthopedic residencies had no dedicated foot and ankle training. Of
the rest that did, 40% had an average of 12 weeks of dedicated foot and
ankle training, 27% had less than 12 weeks, and 32% had 16 to 24 weeks
of training. Orthopedic surgeons wishing to specialize in foot and ankle surgery would then complete a one year fellowship.

The vast majority of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery residency programs are 3 years. The
resident is exposed to various aspects of hands on clinical and
hospital based training including an emphasis on foot and ankle surgery. The
resident will also have dedicated rotations with internal medicine,
infectious disease, orthopedics, emergency medicine, radiology,
pathology, anesthesiology, vascular surgery, general surgery. They are also able to have elective rotations that they so choose to gain additional training. During
this time, the resident will also take the Board Qualification exam for
Foot and Reconstructive Rearfoot and Ankle Surgery as offered by the
American Board of Podiatric Surgery (ABPS).

Once board qualified surgeons have successfully
passed the rigorous oral and written examinations, they will become
board certified. This process usually takes 3 to 5 years, but applicants have up to 7 years before board qualification status expires.

ABPS certification ensures that podiatric surgeons
have completed appropriate training, successfully performed a diverse
range of foot and ankle surgical procedures, and passed extensive
written and oral examinations. The importance of board qualification and
certification is reflected in trends by hospitals, surgery centers,
managed care organizations, and insurance carriers to require specialty
board certification.

 

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