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Saturday, December 17, 2005

What defines podiatry as a profession 

In this discussion on Who Treats Feet?, I posted this message:

That is an issue - what defines "podiatry" as "podiatry" so that it is different from other professions --- in the USA, podiatry is clearly part of the medical model - in the rest of the world it is not, where it is a discipline similar to physiotherapy etc (that is despite limited numbers with surgical qualifications in places like the UK and Australia).

While it is one thing to aspire to the medical model, but is that feasible outside the USA where historical development and educational models are different? One train of thought I have been considering for a while, is just what is it that underpins the 'podiatric model'?

Take nursing as an eg....they used to be the doctors 'hand maidens' - the textbooks of >20 or so years ago reflected that. BUT, now there is no doubt about the very high levels of independence, professionalism and status of nurses as not being the doctors 'hand maidens'. What changed? What gave them this independence as a profession ..... take a look at the current and recent nursing (up to 10 or so years ago) textbooks - the change is obvious....its the concept of a 'nursing diagnosis' that has got nursing to where it is.

For example - the medical diagnosis might be 'chronic obstructive pulmonary disease'. The nursing diagnosis "is a clinical judgment about an individual, family or community response to actual and potential health problems/life processes" - is it will focus on restrictions in ADL's and how they can be facilitated etc. Look at attempts in the physiotherapy literature to define and develop a theoretical model/framework to define the "physiotherapy model'. Look at the plethora of recent textbooks from occupational therapy defining the occupational therpy model with models and frameworks --- they are very well developed and rapidly catching up to nursing in their ability to define their profession in such a way (no wonder they are no longer perceived as basket makers ).

Maybe its time we need to consider the concept of a 'podiatric diagnosis' that needs to be addressed in each patient to better define podiatry as a profession. Those who want to pursue the medical model will disagree with me here...For eg that corn on the fifth toe has a medical diagnosis of hyperkeratosis due to an adductovarus deformity of the fifth digit.... a podiatric diagnosis could be pain due to a pyschosocial problem that prevents them wearing appropriate footwear .... for which problem did the patient really come to us for? Which definition of this problem should we be directing our treatment at? The concept of a nursing diagnosis has defined 'nursing' and directs nursing interventions --- Do we need something similar?

What say you? Comments

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