The direct ancestor of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), the National Association of Chiropodists (NAC), was established in 1912 with 225 chiropodist members. Prior to 1912, professional organizations of chiropodists existed in five states, beginning with the world's first organization of chiropodists in 1895, the Pedic Society of New York.
The earliest years of the NAC were focused on education. Between 1912 and 1916, seven schools were founded, and the Council on Education (predecessor of the Council on Podiatric Medical Education) was established in 1918.
In 1920, the NAC reorganized its annual meeting as a national convention of state delegates, based upon dues-paying members in the state societies. Following World War II, the NAC focused on profession-wide concerns. Efforts were made to standardize degrees, titles, terminology, educational curricula, and state practice acts; intensify and expand public relations and recruitment; create and maintain a scientific research program for the profession; ensure that organizational and financial resources existed to achieve NAC goals; provide facilities and resources for NAC staff to function effectively; and educate practitioners in techniques of practice-building and office management.
The NAC experienced growing pains in the 1950s, caused in part by inadequate staffing and a drop in college enrollments once returning veterans graduated. The NAC undertook a significant reorganization in 1956 with a new constitution, bylaws, and governance structure. In 1957, the NAC was renamed the American Podiatry Association (APA). The public was often confused by the term "chiropody," and the Greek roots of "podiatry" mean "foot doctor," which was viewed to be a better professional rubric.
In the early 1960s, education again dominated APA concerns. APA called for review and reform of the schools' educational processes. APA also identified needs for definition of the profession, interprofessional cooperation, and enhanced public relations. These efforts placed the profession in a stronger position by the late 1960s. In 1969, the APA staff of 15 moved to a new headquarters building on Chevy Chase Circle in Washington, DC.
In 1984, APA was renamed the American Podiatric Medical Association to emphasize the profession as part of mainstream medical practice. In 1987, APMA moved to its current headquarters building in Bethesda, MD.
The history of APMA has been one of steady, determined growth marked by the recognition that the integrity of the educational process and the contributions of individual practitioners are paramount to the strength and success of the profession.