Alumni Profile- Dr. Joe Agostinelli

Colonel Joe Agostinelli, DPM '81


Dr. Agostinelli’s Story 

Dr. Joseph Agostinelli, TUSPM ’81, originally from Scranton, PA, first learned about podiatry at a lecture. Dr. Guido LaPorta, ’71, was giving a Podiatric surgical lecture to the biology club at the University of Scranton. Dr. Agostinelli loved the presentation and he fell in love with podiatry during Dr. LaPorta’s lecture. A month later, in February 1977, Dr. Agostinelli took an entrance exam at Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine (PCPM) and learned about his acceptance to podiatry school in May. Dr. Agostinelli started at PCPM in August of 1977 and graduated in May 1981. In 1981, there were not residencies for all students. During a clinical rotation at the Veteran’s Administration, Dr. Agostinelli realized that he had a calling in life and wanted to serve his country; Dr. Agostinelli joined the United States Air Force in July 1981. The first assignment was to be the podiatrist for all of the cadets at the United States Air Force Medical Center, in San Antonio, Texas, at the Basic Training Center for enlisted cadets at Lackland Air Force Base. Since Dr. Agostinelli did not have a residency lined up after graduation from PCPM, but wanted to learn more about his field, he completed a 3-year program in the Air Force doing military work, and rotations and lectures with the Orthopedic Residents for a basic Orthopedic Residency. After these three years, the Air Force sent Dr. Agostinelli to Philadelphia for a one-year surgical residency in podiatric surgery and medicine at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, from 1984 to 1985. Dr. Agostinelli was the Chief Resident and was paid by the United States Air Force as a Captain. At the end of the residency, Dr. Agostinelli became Board Certified with the American Board of Podiatric Orthopedics (1986) and the American Board of Podiatric Surgery (1987). Dr. Agostinelli remembers his time in the military fondly and recalls on his unique experiences in the podiatry field. Dr. Agostinelli was promoted to Commander for the Orthopedic Department in the US Air Force, and eventually to Colonel, and he was the first Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) to ever achieve these positions in the military. Air Force promotes through the ranks for leadership responsibilities, and Dr. Agostinelli was able to become the first DPM with these positions due to his experience in podiatry and his residencies with the Orthopedic programs. After a 20-year career with the Air Force, Dr. Agostinelli completed his final assignment in Florida in 2004, retired from the Air Force as a Colonel, and joined a large orthopedic surgery group as the sole DPM, where he worked as a foot and ankle surgeon until he retired completely in 2017.


Meaningful Memories

Dr. Agostinelli enjoyed his time at podiatry school in Philadelphia and credits his 36-year career to two rotations: a sports medicine rotation at University of Pennsylvania with Dr. Gary Gordon, and his rotation at the VA with Dr. Tisa. These two rotations sparked Dr. Agostinelli’s interest in sports medicine and led him to starting his career in orthopedics and podiatry with the United States Air Force.


Dr. Agostinelli attributes his successes to his work in the military and the leadership positions that he held. In the 1990s, Dr. Agostinelli was elected on the Board of Directors and as President of the American Board of Podiatric Orthopedics/Primary Podiatric Medicine for eight years, and then elected on the Board of Directors for the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons for three years.  Dr. Agostinelli was recently elected as President of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. With his new role, Dr. Agostinelli plans to help DPMs function as “team consultants” for every aspect of podiatry, and for all ages.  

A DPM Degree

Dr. Agostinelli finds it important to emphasize that career paths do not have to be linear, and that new graduates of podiatry do not have to go directly into private practice; there are so many career choices possible with a DPM. In podiatry today, there is not a large push for joining the military, working with veterans at the VA, or joining an orthopedic office as a DPM. Dr. Agostinelli emphasizes that treating cases in the military or at the VA will give a DPM 100% of the cases necessary for training to complete the Boards, and that there is a strong possibility of also sitting for the Orthopedic Boards and Surgical Boards. There are also benefits to becoming Board Certified early in the profession, such as insurance reimbursements and opportunities to take other Board examinations. Dr. Agostinelli recommends that young graduates of podiatry research opportunities with the DPM degree and reminds these young professionals to seek their own path for their careers.


Dr. Agostinelli is now retired from practicing medicine and is spending his time volunteering and giving back to the field. He hopes that podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons will not see each other as competition or enemies, but as colleagues with an innate ability to grow the field of lower extremity medicine. Dr. Agostinelli loved his career working in the military and in private practice, and has had an excellent quality of life as a result of his career choices.