Early advocate for CPMS, his profession

As a student in the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery (CPMS) in the mid-1980s, Phillip Ward made the commitment to being a leader in his medical school and in his profession. Given the state of each at the time, that revealed Ward’s vision for and faith in the future.

Phillip Ward, D.P.M.’88

During his first year in the college, the American Podiatry Association had just renamed itself the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) to emphasize the profession as part of mainstream medical practice. And while Ward doesn’t dwell on the negative details, he and fellow members of the CPMS Class of 1988 – just the college’s third set of graduates – didn’t feel valued by the University.

That’s all changed and largely for the better, he says. He credits past DMU president and now Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and current DMU President Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., with establishing a different campus-wide culture.

“Branstad was very pro-change. He was adamant that we are a university, not just an osteopathic school,” Ward says. “President Franklin has reinforced that.”

Ward himself has played roles in raising the profiles of his profession and medical alma mater. He joined an APMA public affairs committee in 1988 as a student, and he’s been involved in the nonprofit organization ever since. The APMA represents most of the nation’s 15,000 podiatrists, works to promote foot and ankle health and professional excellence, and advocates for policies and legislation pertaining to podiatric medicine.

Most recently APMA vice president, in March he began a one-year term as APMA president-elect. He’ll then take over as president in March 2015.

“I’d like to tell CPMS alumni of my era to take a look at what’s changed at DMU,” he says. “This University has changed in its philosophy, academically and facilities-wise. We have outstanding students, too.”

“My father was a military and civil servant. He instilled in me to give back to my profession,” says Ward, who practices in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. “That ethic stuck with me.”

It did so regarding CPMS, too. He served on the college’s alumni board until 2011, when it was restructured with the alumni boards of DMU’s other two colleges into a single University-wide organization. He is DMU’s liaison on the APMA Board of Trustees, which he was elected to in 2004; he’s given a campus lecture on the organization each of the past 11 years.

“I’d like to tell CPMS alumni of my era to take a look at what’s changed at DMU,” he says. “This University has changed in its philosophy, academically and facilities-wise. We have outstanding students, too.”

Ward might be biased on that point, rightfully so: His daughter Meredith will graduate from CPMS in May, making the Wards one of DMU’s first – if not the first – parent-child pair to be alumni of the college. He will get to hood her at DMU’s Commencement in May; next year, she’ll get to help induct him as APMA president.

“The only problem with her inducting me is that after she does so, I’ll have to give a speech, and I’m a pretty emotional guy,” he jokes.

Ward is proud of his profession, too. He chose it after working in a hospital laboratory as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina. “I had the midnight shift, and I never saw a podiatrist, a pathologist or a dermatologist at three o’clock in the morning,” he says. “I started looking at podiatric medicine because it offered the lifestyle I wanted.”

That doesn’t mean Ward was looking for an easy ride. Certified by the American Academy of Professional Coders in foot and ankle coding, he is the podiatric adviser to the American Medical Association (AMA) Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Panel. He is the first podiatrist ever to be elected to the AMA CPT Assistant Editorial Board. Past president of the North Carolina Foot and Ankle Society and a former city councilman, he has lectured on coding-related topics in 38 states.

Ward also is certified by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and the American Board of Podiatric Medicine. He is a fellow of the American Society of Podiatric Surgeons, the American College of Foot and Ankle Orthopedics and Medicine, the American Society of Podiatric Dermatology, the American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and the Society for Vascular Surgery.

“I’ve been able to experience a variety of practice arrangements. I have practiced in a small podiatry group, in a medium-sized multispecialty group and in a large corporate hospital,” he says. “The thing I enjoy the most, and very few specialty physicians can say this, is that most of my patients feel better when they leave my office. That makes me feel good.”

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