The average child often daydreams of someday succeeding in a handful of fascinating professionsnot least of which as a physician. Diagnosing and treating ailments of all varieties continues to be glorified and glamorized on television, in movies and in other media outlets. But a rapidly growing aging population, and increase in health epidemics such as diabetes and obesity, has made recruiting a new generation of physicians more critically important than ever before.
Many medical specialties, including the profession of podiatric medicine, are continuing to work feverishly to meet these demands. According to results from a recent podiatric workforce study, all eight of the podiatric medical schools in the U.S. must, in fact, triple the amount of their graduates by the year 2014 in order to meet the increasingly high demand for services of podiatric physicians. The leaders of my organization, the American Podiatric Medical Association, or APMA, have begun to positively address this situation with a number of recruitment tactics designed to create a renewed interest in podiatric medicine.
Creating a general awareness of any medical professions full scope of practice is essential for recruiting young people, who are interested in careers that both challenge and fulfill. For example, in podiatric medicine, one can choose to embark on a career path in podiatric sports medicine assisting high-profile athletes, pioneer groundbreaking surgical techniques as a podiatric surgeon or work alongside other vital medical specialties to conquer widespread health epidemics such as diabetes. While visiting colleges and universities across the country speaking about the wide scope that a career in podiatric medicine offers, many students show a keen interest. Usually, they inform me that they had no idea that a career as a podiatrist had so many exciting career options, and want to know even more about the limitless opportunities as a podiatric physician.
As the APMA has discovered, one of the most influential ways to generate new interest in medicine is to implement a dedicated mentor program to guide students. The APMAs Doctors of Podiatric Medicine Mentor Network pairs individual podiatrists with potential students who have expressed interest in podiatric medicine. My personal experience as a mentor and teacher has not only been one of great success in encouraging these students to attend podiatric medical school, but it has also helped create a new way of thinking about how I publicly present myself as a podiatrist.
Finally, getting invaluable insight straight from the students, by conducting a focus group, provides a conduit for gauging students current knowledge of medicine. This can help to reshape and focus the exact tactics being used to recruit students. Who has the most influence on each individuals career goals? Where does the typical student initially go for more information on a specific career? The answers to these important questions can be found in focus groups. With these important answers in hand, those in charge of a student recruitment initiative in any field can be readily prepared and craft a concisely targeted program needed to attain a new student base.
Giving the talented young minds of today an immersive and inspiring look at their career possibilities in medicine is imperative to returning medicines applicant pools to high levels once again. As our economy continues to waiver and its effect on the healthcare community is felt, a future generation of inspired, forthcoming physicians will play a larger role in maintaining our countrys quality of life than ever before. Make no mistake, our great profession depends upon recruiting young talent right now.
Ross Taubman, D.P.M.