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Here, Lagana discusses the past and future of PFA and why pedorthists are needed now more than ever.
FN: What is PFA’s primary mission?
BL: PFA’s main reason for being is education — whether pre-certification or continuing education. We’ve always been an educator. Now, in addition to providing continuing education for the practitioner, we’re becoming more involved in educating the public about pedorthics. For individuals who might want to become a pedorthist, we took the lead in putting together a marketing strategy for getting people interested in the field.
FN: Who are PFA’s members?
BL: Individual practioners are the heart of our membership. Branching out from there, we have a base that’s composed of other health care practitioners, such as an MD or a DPM [doctor of podiatric medicine] or a DO [doctor of osteopathy], who are probably not cross-credentialed as a pedorthist, but are interested in keeping in touch with the profession because they work with pedorthists. In our membership [we also have footwear vendors] such as Aetrex, P.W. Minor and Pedors. In addition, we have a student population of members — people who are working toward their pedorthic credentials.
FN: What do you anticipate will most impact pedorthics over the next decade?
BL: We’re definitely noticing a contraction in the practitioner base. There are fewer and fewer people going into pedorthics, but the need for their services is projected to grow tremendously over the next 20 to 30 years. So we’re actively addressing this trend by trying to entice and encourage more people to get into the profession.
FN: How does one become a pedorthist?
BL: There are a handful of schools in the U.S. that offer the pedorthic pre-certification program. Depending on the school, it’s about a two- to three-week program. You [must then pass] the tests required for competency to sit for either the ABC or BOC exams [to earn your pedorthic certification or pedorthist certification]. ABC is the American Board for Certification in orthotics, prosthetics and pedorthics. BOC is the Board of Certification/Accreditation, International.
FN: What role does PFA take in government affairs?
BL: One of PFA’s major roles is to maintain and build awareness between the decision makers in Washington and at the state level. Obviously, our biggest issue at the federal level has always been and remains Medicare’s therapeutic shoes for diabetics benefit. At the state level, we’re very actively engaged in advocating pedorthic licensing legislation to ensure quality practitioners for patients across the board.
FN: Can you tell us a little about your organization’s lobbying arm in Washington?
BL: For the past 10 years, we’ve had a Washington-based lobbyist, Bill Applegate. Internally, I handle the government affairs program for PFA. So PFA has always had a very strong presence [on Capitol Hill]. We also have a very strong volunteer base that supplements our government affairs and advocacy program. It’s led by our government affairs committee chair, Randy Stevens, who is a pedorthist as well as a certified fitter of orthotics.