Proving the Power of Podiatry
By Rachel Albright, DPM, CPMA Board Member
As podiatrists, we understand the true value and power of our profession. For example, we don’t only treat diabetic foot ulcers after they occur. We can prevent them from ever happening in the first place, sparing folks from pain and even preserving their ability to live active, mobile lives.
The trouble is our peers in other areas of medicine aren’t always aware of the extent of our value. This, for me, is where research comes into play. After all, what’s more convincing than peer-reviewed and scientifically supported information proving that our profession is an irreplaceable member of any healthcare team?
Medical research is one of the greatest tools we have for solidifying our value in the medical community, and I am happy to share the results and progress of my own past and current research endeavors. My work looks at the actions the healthcare system can take to prevent complications from diabetes for all patients.
Initial Findings Through the APMA Fellowship Program
I began this current research when I was completing my fellowship at The Dartmouth Institute as part of the American Podiatric Medical Associations’ (APMA) fellowship program. APMA and CPMA are long-standing supporters of young physicians, and this fellowship program afforded me the skillset and resources I needed to produce high quality research for our profession. For one of my final projects, I used a national database survey representing non-hospitalized U.S. citizens. With thousands of observations, I was able to find that foot exams were one of the most important measures in preventing hospitalizations for diabetics – but also one of the least utilized services.
Proving That Foot Exams Can Prevent Diabetes Hospitalizations
After completing my fellowship and becoming more integrated into the podiatric community, I decided to further explore my research using a longitudinal population. Through the help of Stamford Health and their Department of Research, I am currently undertaking an IRB-approved study to explore multiple preventative measures commonly employed to curb diabetes complications as well as the relative impact on outcomes of each measure.
I hypothesize that I’ll find results similar to those I found on a national level: foot exams are essential in preventing complications, but they continue to be underutilized. I’m hoping to show that when a podiatrist is on the medical team for an adult with diabetes, regardless of the severity of their disease, their outcomes will be better. I want to do my part to ensure the next generation of podiatrists have a solid foundation of evidence to support what they currently do, and what they want to do in the future.
This current research at Stamford Health is still in the data collection phase, and I anticipate it will be at its completion in Fall 2021. However, the work I completed at Dartmouth using the national database has been submitted for publication and is under review. I anticipate this paper will be published in the Spring of 2021! For those looking for information on the national database study – it was presented at the 2020 APMA Online Summer CECH Series and won first place for best poster in the large cohort category.
Shared Resources for Podiatrists in Connecticut and Beyond
As crucial as continued research is for our field of medicine, not every podiatrist can devote their time and energies to it. They may have patients to tend to, practices to run, and personal lives to live. That’s where CPMA and other podiatric associations come into play.
Our community of podiatrists, medical assistants, and laypeople interested in footcare allows us to pool resources so everyone benefits. That means podiatrists, like myself, who can perform research can devote more time and resources to the task and then share their results with the community. I have received so much support through CPMA and APMA, and my research is a way of giving back to those who have helped me get where I am today. Together we can demonstrate our value and raise our profession.