Are You a Podiatrist or Chiropodist?
It was the first full conference of this type brought to the Federation. As presenters, we get energized with the excitement when attendees hear our material for the first time. In fact, sitting in on many of the talks given by my colleagues, I always pick up new ideas even though I have heard this material many times. We all look forward to returning next year.
The most striking thing I learned over the course of the weekend was that I was speaking to a room full of highly educated foot specialists. Of course I was...I'm a podiatrist myself! But these foot specialists are not considered to be podiatrists in the province of Ontario. They are chiropodists.
In the United States, chiropody was the precursor to podiatry with the designation having changed in the late 60's. Chiropody is also the term used by the British, but the scope there is now similar to what a podiatrist does in the US. Of course in the US, podiatrists manage all ailments of the foot and ankle. We manage and care for our patients' conditions with both conservative therapy, such as custom orthotics and bracing, and also surgical means.
In Canada, podiatry does exist in all provinces. In Ontario, however, podiatrists are restricted from performing bone surgery. The other strange thing is that no new podiatrists could be licensed to practice in Ontario since 1991. Even a podiatrist trained in the states are now licensed as a chiropodist. This group is now being discriminated against by the podiatrists who remain, numbering less than fifty. Sound ridiculous? It is!
The potential for podiatry and chiropody to unite and become more integrated in the health fabric of the area is great. It is the short-sighted outlook of these podiatrists who can't see that as their numbers decrease, so will their relevance. When they retire, their practices will have no value. No child can go to school and take over the family business.
Why can't chiropody and podiatry work together? Both professions can coexist as podiatry. The two, non-surgical and surgical can complement one another in a powerful way, just as ophthalmology and optometry do in the states. The infighting and underhanded methods being used by the podiatrists in Canada are ultimately going to hurt the profession across the country.
I support chiropody and it is time to change their designation to podiatrist. It's time to stop confusing the public and start working together to strengthen a united profession.