By: Alexandra Arnold, MS-1
Alexandra Arnold is a first-year podiatric medical student at Des Moines University College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery. She is currently a chief editor for PrePodiatryClinic.
How would you go about improving access to healthcare in this country, especially to underserved communities?
Healthcare around this nation is a hot topic of discussion right now, especially with this year being an election year. I am from the heart of Appalachia; a small town in West Virginia, where healthcare is abysmal and the rates of obesity and diabetes are high. We have to travel long distances and take off of work just to see a healthcare provider. For some, they simply can’t afford this, resulting in their health being at greater risk.
One issue that we are currently dealing with is the lack of Podiatrists in the southern part of the state. Something I have recently seen utilized for things such as breast cancer, is mobile buses that travel across the state. This is something that we should consider for Podiatry services. We can provide basic nail clippings and lower extremity examinations for pathologies such as diabetic foot ulcers. If we can start with these basic podiatric needs, this may limit the need for something such as an amputation due to osteomyelitis down the road.
Something I have recently seen utilized for things such as breast cancer, is mobile buses that travel across the state. This is something that we should consider for Podiatry services.
However, this also means when people do seek care of Podiatrists, we are billing and coding appropriately for services. This isn’t meant to deter people to seek care but to make sure practices are receiving appropriate funding through Medicaid/Medicare.
Another issue that we are currently facing is the awareness that Podiatry is a specialty. Working in an Emergency Department in the past, I witnessed a great demand for orthopedic specialists which is typically difficult to get into. Bringing more awareness of Podiatry as a specialty in medicine, and exposing the community to our capabilities (within scope of practice of each state), would limit the amount of pressure on the Orthopedic specialties. This can be done through social media. Advertising on these platforms can give exposure to the community such as what Hallux Magazine does for prospective/incoming/current podiatric medical students.
Another issue that we are currently facing is the awareness that Podiatry is a specialty.
Finally, the importance of healthcare is universal; it’s not something we can sweep under the rug and hope it improves. This requires change from legislation and providers. Times are starting to change with legislation and providers becoming more exposed to patients. Now, we need to make sure there is equal access for all patients and that there isn’t a healthcare desert to those who truly need or want the help.
By Alexandra Arnold, MS-1
School: Des Moines University College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery
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