ABFAS Sits Down With Dr. Michelle Butterworth, Newly Elected to the Board of Directors

“I think I can be helpful with my experience and it's kind of a labor of love. It's a passion, you just want to help, you want to pay it forward with your profession.”-Dr. Butterworth

Michelle Butterworth DPM, was just elected into a new role on ABFAS’ Board of Directors.  While Dr. Butterworth’s term starts on September 1, 2019, she is very familiar with ABFAS, having served for years on numerous committees. These committees include the Communications Committee, Online Study Guide Task Force, and Bylaws Task Force. She is currently a member of the Cognitive Examinations Committee and servers as a Case Reviewer. 

ABFAS sat down with Dr. Butterworth to discuss her career, her new role, and her service to ABFAS.

Dr. Butterworth, how did you start your board certification process?

“After getting your training in residency you start focusing on the future. And then you start thinking about board certification and your long-term career. So, fortunately, I had great instructors and residency directors who were very familiar with ABFAS. From the very beginning, in my residency, it was always just a given that your goal was to become ABFAS board certified. Yes, you're a skilled surgeon. We're going to teach you all the techniques, but you need to become board certified. That's going to be sort of your ultimate achievement and your success as a surgeon.”

What does ABFAS board certification mean to your patients?

“I think it's exactly like the tagline says. It's a credential you can trust. ABFAS is the board for podiatric foot and ankle surgery and patients look for a board certified surgeon in any type of surgery. My certificates hang on the wall, and patients comment about it. It gives them more trust in you as a surgeon, that they know that you've gone through this rigorous process and ultimately become board certified and you've got the skills and the training.”

What would your advice be to residents thinking about their own career path?

“One of the things I see with residents or those that are just out in the practice, they are focused on trying to get their numbers. They worry about the number of procedures. My advice is to just treat your patients, regardless of whether you're trying to achieve board certification. It’s a natural process. Treat your patients as you would regardless of whether you're trying to accumulate cases or trying to go through the credentialing process.”

Dr. Butterworth, you practice in South Carolina, a state that just changed the ankle law. What was your involvement in the process to get this law changed?  

“I was very active in fighting the scope of practice change. There were obviously several of us in our state, but I was one of the forefront leaders on this. I worked on it for 19 years, trying to get this law changed. DPMs have to be ABFAS RRA board qualified or certified to do ankle surgery in South Carolina. And that just goes to show you that the orthopedists, the politicians, the legislatures, they are very aware of the ABFAS board certification process. They are very aware of the differences between foot certification and RRA certification. And we couldn't even get our bills sponsored without putting ABFAS board certification in there, as well as the need for a 3-year residency.”

What are you most excited about in your new role?

"Continuing to work on a more intimate level on the board.  I know a lot about the hard work that the committees do, the work they put in, and the composition of the committees.  Now I will be thinking more from a board level - looking at the organization as a whole.  I really think the strategic planning part of it is something I enjoy, it's something I learned while serving on the ACFAS board of directors.  We have done a lot of strategic planning and I've gained a lot of experience in that.  And just from the recent actions with ABFAS, with the name change, I know the board is definitely thinking strategically." 

What is your advice to young professionals wanting to get involved at ABFAS?

"I think it helps to have a mentor or someone involved in the ABFAS organization that can answer questions and give guidance.  I first became involved volunteering. I started on the Bylaws Committee and doing case review.  I think getting involved on different subcommittees, and task forces, and getting familiar with the organization is important. You have to make yourself available and you have to make it known that you want to volunteer. You have got to do your work on time and do what is asked of you.  If you're enjoying what you do and the board is benefiting, then naturally, it's going to be a great fit." 

ABFAS looks forward to Dr. Butterworth's future service to ABFAS.