Turf Battle: The Podiatrist Vs. The Medical Resident

Podiatrist: We are professionals too
Podiatrist: We are professionals too

On the one hand, some MD's said that their extensive training set them apart from other, so-called "paraprofessionals," and to give these lesser-degreed providers greater scope in their practices could put patients at risk. Alternatively, non MDs said their expertise should not be trivialized, and doctors are simply trying to hold back competitors and thereby protect their cushy incomes.

Here, Dr. Alec Hochstein, a New York podiatrist, notes that the team approach-- including the ability to interact and consult with peers who have different but complementary areas of expertise — is what truly benefits patients:

I do not want to get into a debate over who knows more or who is better qualified to treat what condition. I am quite comfortable in my area of expertise, which encompasses specialties in multiple systems. I do not care what letters you have after your name, I only care about how you approach a patient, and their conditions, whether it be cardiac, renal, vascular, podiatric, infectious, this is what matters. I have been fortunate to practice in multiple large hospital facilities and level one trauma centers and to be perfectly honest, I have never felt discriminated against for my degree which by the way is D.P.M. Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, I am a board certified foot surgeon, and have saved hundreds of limbs and lives, and not one of those people or their families care where I went to school, I am the expert, end of story, thats what they want to know.

For my young students, now is a time to be learning and growing, do not start your career believing in a statement that just has no foundation in medicine, you will lose what is so great about practicing medicine the interaction that you have with your peers, the ability to consult and learn from one another and bring that to your practice and your patients. No one can do it alone, we are a team, and you can never win without all the players.

Mark congratulations on your accomplishments I wish you good health, and a prosperous career, but you have much to learn, it is apparent from your post that you simply haven't a clue, which is why it carries no weight, I would love the opportunity educate you. I can only assume you have had some poor influences that have unfortunately put you at a disadvantage... And by the way it is highly offensive to call Nurses, Optometrists, Dentists or Podiatrists, Para-professionals, we are Professionals, and highly skilled ones at that.

Mark, a fourth year medical student about to begin a seven-year residency, had written earlier:

I can say without compunction that the education of doctors far exceeds that of the various paraprofessionals. There is no doubt that increasing the power of such providers to act and prescribe independently of actual physicians in our medical system will decrease the quality of care. Ordering the wrong tests, or a few unnecessary tests, or missing a diagnosis can be of major detriment to a patient.

But not all budding MD's are on the same page. James, for instance, also a medical student offers a this perspective:

I think this is a contentious and complicated debate, and the snippet above hardly gives us enough information to have an educated discourse about it. I don't necessarily disagree with your conclusion, though I think it's far more complicated that the simple statement that "increasing the power of such providers... will decrease the quality of care."

That said, please do not assert yourself as a "fourth year medical student about to begin a seven year residency" as if that gives you some credibility to speak on the issue. As a fourth year medical student, you know a lot of anatomy and physiology, a little bit of medicine, and virtually nothing about training of "paraprofessionals", health policy, healthcare administration, outpatient medicine, insurance, licensure, or the multitude of other areas into which this debate extends.

This program aired on April 15, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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