Alumni Spotlight: David Freedman, DPM
By: Peyton Pflug, KLN '19
Alumnus Dr. David Freedman grew up in Williamsville, New York. When he was in high school, his parents recommended he see a podiatrist who was a family friend. This is where he started to become familiar with work in podiatric medicine. Dr. Freedman began his college career at Syracuse University in the pre-med track. When he reached his junior year, he decided to shadow a local podiatrist. “This made me realize I wanted to become a doctor who could provide both medical care and surgical services, which is unique to podiatry...I knew I wanted to go to the best school, so I applied to PCPM and was admitted. I think my favorite part of school was the friends I made. I still keep in touch with them to this day and they have become lifelong friends.” After completing his training in Philadelphia, he did his residency in South Jersey at Kessler Memorial Hospital under the Directorship of Dr. Angelo Luzzi. Dr. Freedman related being the first resident, he helped start this residency program in 1986. He then moved to the D.C. area (Maryland) so he and his wife could be closer to family where he worked at a practice for a year. “I decided I wanted to be my own boss, so in 1988, I started my own practice.” His practice developed over the next few years, growing from part time office-based practice, working with a great mentor - Dr. Richard Cohen, going to assisted living homes and nursing homes into a full-time practice. He continued growing his office based practice hiring associates along the way to better build the practice. Then in 2010, he changed course and with meetings of 5 other practices, he decided it was time to form a large podiatry group. By the next year, Dr. Freedman merged his practice with 8 other practices and started a group practice known as Foot and Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic (FASMA) that grew even more quickly than his first business. Today, the practice has grown from 9 partner doctors to over 60 practicing podiatrists and growing. Today’s business is called US Foot and Ankle Specialists since partnering with NMS Capital.
“When starting a practice, you first want to pick a location that has a need for your medical care. I also think it’s important to pay attention to demographics and become familiar with your potential patient population. You want to find a place with dense population but few podiatrists, which is how I found a location where I could fit well into the community by providing my services.”
Dr. Freedman’s involvement in the podiatry community stretches much farther than his practice. He has also been involved in education, teaching, consulting as an auditor and speaking all around the country. He was appointed twice by two different Maryland Governors to be on the Maryland Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners for 8 years serving the public. This March he will also begin serving as Chairman of the Coding Committee for APMA. He also reviews malpractice claims for the Podiatry Insurance Company of America (PICA). He enjoys being involved in national policy for podiatry and has been for two decades.
Of his many accomplishments, Dr. Freedman considers the group practice, the Foot and Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic, one of his proudest. “It took a lot of hard work and effort, and to me it is a major accomplishment that my partners and I were able to start this group with such an emphasis on compliance, doing the right thing, and practicing the standard care of podiatric medicine and surgery.” Aside from podiatry, Dr. Freedman is a very proud father of 3 great children Molly, Dani, Bonnie and son in law Mark and grandfather of two wonderful grandchildren Sophie and Madden.
While his career in podiatric medicine has resulted in many successes, Dr. Freedman talks about some of the challenges that come with being a podiatrist as well. “When I first started, I thought I could fix everyone’s problems. I learned very quickly you can’t make everyone completely perfect. I think part of the reality of being a doctor is realizing we’re here to help people to the best of our abilities. Sometimes we can’t heal every one of our patients 100% of the time, but the majority of our patients now have a better quality of life because we were able to help them. While this is challenging to learn, to me it is also the greatest satisfaction of being in this field.
I asked Dr. Freedman for his advice to prospective podiatry students. “When choosing your path in medical school, keep in mind most specialties only involve either medical or surgical specialties. If you are interested in a combination of both medical and surgical experience, podiatry gives you the best of both worlds.”
If Dr. Freedman were to go back in time and give advice to his younger self, he would emphasize the value of the business skills he would eventually develop and use. “One thing I learned from experience over the years is how to manage the business side of medical care. You don’t necessarily learn this in school - they are critical things you learn on the job. It’s extremely important to know how to run a business, especially if you are interested in starting your own practice. My advice is to pay attention to this and even take the initiative to go out and learn it on your own, because it will be very useful in the future.”
As for advice for students new to working with patients, Dr. Freedman says, “Listen to your patients! You can likely figure out most of the problems a patient has presented with by simply hearing what they have to say. Being a good listener is the key, and many people don’t take enough time to do this.”
Finally, Dr. Freedman looks forward to what the future brings him. “One of my future goals is to continue to grow our thriving multi state group practice as we have now partnered with the company-NMS to form US Foot and Ankle Specialists. We are a very unique group and I look forward to expanding our footprint and reaching surrounding areas to continue our quest to be known as the premier podiatry group in the country.”