Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning. Sign Up

Opinion: Scope of practice for podiatrists needs updating

A message from the Alabama Podiatric Medical Association

In 1973, Paul “Bear” Bryant was in his 16th year as the head coach at Alabama. Ralph “Shug” Jordan was in his 23rd year at Auburn. And George Wallace was in his second term as Governor of Alabama.

Much has changed in Alabama over the last 49 years – in sports, politics, and also in medicine. One constant over that period, however, is opposition to efforts seeking to modernize certain scope of practice laws for healthcare professionals in the state.

Scope of practice laws dictate the procedures and processes that a healthcare professional may perform and ensure those are consistent with an individual’s education, training and experience. In this particular context, the year 1973 is important because that was the last time Alabama’s scope of practice law for podiatrists was updated.

While 47 states have modernized their scope of practice to allow qualified DPMs to at least treat patients’ ankles, Alabama remains one of only three states (with Mississippi and Massachusetts) that limits podiatry to the foot only. This outdated limitation prevents modern-day graduates of podiatric medical school from utilizing their training – 4 years of medical school plus 3 years of post-graduate residency.

As a result, it has become challenging to recruit DPMs to the state. Today’s graduating DPMs increasingly choose to bypass Alabama and practice in the 47 other states. These prospects all voice a common objection: they want to practice podiatry in states with modern scopes of practice where they can utilize their education and training.

Current legislation pending in the Alabama legislature would make reasonable changes to the state’s podiatric scope of practice. SB101 by Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison will modernize access to care for all Alabamians by allowing a modest update of podiatrists’ scope of practice to include the foot and ankle. SB101 focuses on the future of podiatry in Alabama by only allowing more recent and future graduates the same privileges DPMs have in 47 other states.

49 years is a long time to wait for change. SB101 will ensure that Alabama is competitive in recruiting DPMs, and it will allow Alabama podiatry patients a better opportunity to be served in their local community and in a setting of their choosing.

Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Web Development By Infomedia