Dr. Andrew Schneider
This is a question I was asked recently by a new patient in my podiatry practice. She came in with a particular foot issue that she sought my advice and assistance on, but asked for a referral to an orthopedic surgeon for a chronic problem with her navicular, the same bone that Yao Ming and Tom Brady have injured. She felt that the orthopedist would be better qualified to address this issue.
I responded to her request with the name of an orthopedic surgeon who I think highly of. I also gave her the name of a colleague of mine, another Podiatrist in Houston, TX, who I feel is best qualified to do the surgery she is asking about. While I do surgery myself, I do not typically operate on these injuries caused by trauma. She was hesitant to accept the suggestion of the podiatrist, however, until I told her that if I or a family member needed this type of surgery, I would not want anyone else operating but him.
The training of a podiatrist is extensive. After four years of college, a podiatrist continues on for four years of podiatric medical school. Most schools are affiliated with major universities and medical centers, such as Temple University where I attended. After graduation, the podiatrist continues to a hospital-based residency program which is now a minimum of 3 years of training in surgery and medicine. The podiatrist then has to meet additional qualifications to become board certified.
While it's true that some podiatrist choose to limit their practices, all are qualified to treat all disorders of the foot and ankle. I choose to limit my surgery to more elective forefoot procedures, such as correction of bunions, hammertoes, and neuromas, because of the type of practice I choose to have. I do feel, however, that podiatrists are the best trained in matters of the foot and ankle and would have one of my fellow podiatrists operate on me over an orthopedic surgeon any day.
I gave my patient the choice between two excellent surgeons. The choice is hers...the best I can do is offer my opinion as to what the best choice would be. If you're faced with a similar choice, be sure not to limit your options.
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