PODIATRIC PUBLIC HEALTH – A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
JOHN R. CARSON, BA, MA, LL.D (Hon) – ARTHUR E. HELFAND, DPM
PUBLIC HEALTH AND PODIATRIC MEDICINE
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE
ARTHUR E. HELFAND, DPM EDITOR
AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION
WASHINGTON, DC 2006
Podiatric Public Health has been defined as that specialty and special area of podiatric practice that is concerned with the science and art of preventing, treating and managing pedal and related disorders, diseases, conditions, and malfunctions; and promoting foot health through organized community efforts. It is that form of podiatric medical practice, which serves the community as the patient rather than the individual. It is concerned with podiatric health education of the public, with applied podiatric research, as well as the prevention and control of podiatric disorders and diseases on a community basis. It provides a focus on the health of individuals and defined populations in order to protect, promote, and maintain health and well-being and to prevent disease and disability, which can cause premature death.
Implicit in this definition is the requirement that the specialists have broad knowledge and skills in public health administration; research methodology; biostatistics; epidemiology; health services administration; environmental and occupational influences on health; social and behavioral influences on health; measures to prevent the occurrence, progression and disabling effects of disease and injury; cross cultural concerns of the delivery of health services; the financing and delivery of podiatric medical care and services; and the identification and development of resources to accomplish health goals. It includes considerations dealing with health policy and public health law and provides a focus on aging as a major health issue for the future.
Podiatric Medicine has experienced significant progress in public health program involvement since the inception by the profession of the need to become involved in the field. There has been an impressive growth over the past fifty years to promote a preventive strategy and to expand public health education and service. It is the purpose of this chapter to trace the development of Podiatric public health and to recognize the important role that the American Public Health Association has played in this cooperative effort to improve the foot health of the Nation.
In 1953, and Editorial by Abe Rubin, DPM in the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Journal, addressed the professions preventive role. Although there was great emphasis on treatment, it was clear that methods to prevent foot problems were important to maintain foot health. It was clear that there was a need for an organized public health role for the profession.
During the decade of the 1950’s primary efforts included third party reimbursement and scope of practice. It was during this period that the first direct commissioning of podiatrists began in the United States Army, Medical Service Corps. With this major advancement, there were visionaries who continued to stress the needs for prevention and public health. Marvin W. Shapiro, DPM was the primary visionary and too many, is though of as the Father of Podiatric Public Health. As President of the American Podiatric Medical Association (1959-1960), he became actively involved in the President’s Youth and Fitness Program and exhibited at the American Medical Association’s Annual Meeting. He also helped to develop a podiatric and foot health educational section at the National Audiovisual Center, National Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
The evolution and development of the Podiatric Health Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA) began in the 1959, when two members of the profession, the late Abe Rubin, DPM and the late Marvin W. Shapiro joined the American Public Health Association. Dr. Shapiro was President of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) and Dr. Rubin served as the Association’s Executive Director and Editor of the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. Dr. Shapiro believed that podiatric medicine’s greatest contribution could come in the field of public health, and he recognized the potential for that by urging the integration of the profession within APHA. He initiated his plan by exhibiting at the 1961 APHA annual meeting, a practice that continues today. He sought to demonstrate the wide range of foot problems by demonstrating one thousand (1,000) clinical conditions and the services offered by podiatric physicians to not only treat these problems, but also to prevent many of the complications associated with them. Dr. Shapiro’s perseverance resulted in his being awarded Fellowship status in 1961 in the APHA, the first podiatric physician to be so recognized and honored. Arthur E. Helfand, DPM was the second member of the profession elected to APHA Fellowship.
Continuing with Dr. Shapiro’s projected goal, American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) established a series of committees in 1959 that had public health issues as their focus. Some of those committees included Aging, Children and Youth Fitness, Farm Foot Health, Occupational Foot Health and an Advisory Committee on Civil and Defense Emergency Medical Care.