During the 2018 House of Delegates meeting in March, delegates approved Resolution 9-18 on Student Recruitment, which directed APMA to devote staff and budget to address student recruitment and support the creation of an adequate pool of qualified applicants.
Since that time, APMA has published a detailed strategic and tactical communications plan and is working to execute that plan in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders within the profession.
The first step was to conduct an exhaustive research study to understand audiences, opportunities, and challenges. APMA worked with Edge Research, a nationally known and respected research firm that has supported other health-care professions in student recruitment efforts. The study, completed in the fall of 2018, uncovered important information to guide the profession’s efforts in fostering increased and higher-quality applications.
The study showed the prospective students most likely to be interested in careers in podiatry were younger (high school-age students rather than undergraduates), outgoing, and open-minded. They demonstrated interest in work–life balance, as well as the variety that podiatry offers: the opportunity to work in different practice settings and subspecialties. Providing immediate relief for pain and discomfort and spending quality time with patients also ranked highly among prospects interested in podiatry.
Prospects had some significant gaps in understanding about podiatric medicine and surgery that offer important opportunities for education:
Unsurprisingly, most prospects reported they use digital resources to learn more about careers. Most start with popular search engines like Google, meaning that search engine optimization—the process of optimizing our online content so that it appears at or near the top of search results, whether through paid advertising or organic efforts—will play an important role in the success of any student recruitment effort.
While prospects also are heavy users of social media platforms, only 22 percent reported using it to research careers. Social media platforms, while important to our general educational efforts, likely will have to be used strategically to engage prospective students in other materials.
Word of mouth from teachers, family and friends, and counselors was also a key method of reaching prospects. Early exposure to podiatry through a personal medical experience, a family member’s medical experience, or a mentoring experience, was a critical factor in choices to pursue podiatry as a career, meaning engaging prospective students to interact with a mentor will be a top goal for recruitment efforts.
Per Resolution 9-18, APMA has sought additional funding from the profession for the proposed strategic recruitment campaign. So far, financial support remains nearly $200,000 short of the proposed budget. With the limited budget, APMA is pursuing key priorities from the plan:
Friday, July 12, at The National, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., prospective students from Salt Lake City and the surrounding area will be on hand for the second annual Step Into Podiatry event. During this event they'll have the opportunity to interact with current podiatric medical students, participate in a hands-on cadaveric suture workshop, tour the exhibit hall, and learn more about the profession.
We encourage every podiatrist to be a part of the recruitment effort. Visit a local career fair or your child’s school. Post information to your website and social media accounts about your exciting career. And sign up to become a mentor at www.dpmnetwork.org. Thank you for your support of the future of podiatric medicine and surgery!
Since the passage of Resolution 9-18, APMA has:
APMA has devoted significant staff and financial resources to this initiative, outstripping its 2018–19 budget and committing another $50,000 plus staff time in 2019–20. APMA has reached out to the other stakeholders identified in Resolution 9-18 to seek financial support for its efforts, including the development of recruitment materials, advertising, member toolkits, and more. APMA will continue to report to and engage members regularly as its efforts unfold.