In this day of the internet, the credentials of any doctor are usually readily available. This is the first step in finding a competent/well trained Podiatrist. If this information isn’t available on the web, phone contact with the office is recommended. Many Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) have other accomplishments/degrees listed after their name. These may include PhD, DO etc. This type designation indicates that the DPM has gone back to school and obtained additional training in another specialty. Board certification is one important credential that must be verified. Podiatric Surgery Board Certification is regulated by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. To become certified by this board, one must complete a certified residency program for one to three years, document a specified number of surgical cases, and pass the written and oral examinations. Once board certified status has been achieved, a DPM may list the designation diplomat of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery after his name.
Fellowships in other related organizations may be obtained by meeting specified requirements which include oral or written examinations.
Calculating the number of years which the DPM has been practice will help determine the “seasoning trait”. Every physician is very book smart by the time he/she graduates medical school.
If a residency program is attended, then a physician is well versed in the residency training which he or she has received. Unfortunately, even a great residency program includes long term follow up care and evaluation of patients. It’s this long term follow up and evaluation that helps establish treatment guidelines and preferences in each physician. The resident is guided down this path by the attending surgeon in the residency program, but there is no substitute for first hand experience. Since this experience is obtained over time, a well seasoned DPM should have been in practice for at least ten years.
Recommendation is the next important factor in selecting a DPM. Of course your primary physician’s choice would be most valuable in this process; however additional research is always very helpful. Ask the advice of your friends and relatives when selecting a new Podiatrist.
Beware of random choices based on nationality association, free exam advertisements or identifying a certain problem with an advertisement. In an ideal world, a physician shouldn’t have to advertise—his reputation should be on the street and readily available following the appropriate query.
In conclusion, the first encounter is a very important one. If you don’t feel that you have been properly treated and satisfied with the one on one time spent by your physician, this is the time to search out a new one. We must have confidence in our physicians as this will help guide us through our treatment programs; without this confidence, any treatment is doomed to failure.