Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Podiatric Medicine’s (CPM) Lester J. Jones, DPM, MS, has received the 2011 American Podiatric Medical Association’s (APMA) Award of Excellence for members.

The award recognizes those who have demonstrated outstanding national accomplishments in scientific, professional or civic endeavors over a lifetime.

Jones, Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Podiatric Medicine, Surgery & Biomechanics, will receive the award during the APMA House of Delegates, which is March 20-21, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

"It’s a humbling experience," Jones said. "You work an entire career trying to achieve excellence, and I don’t really think you grasp the achievements that are occurring right before your eyes. What you see you are doing is your job. I don’t get with the adage of getting something in return for it. It’s the joy of doing a job well done and seeing others advance in scope."

CPM Founding Dean Lawrence B. Harkless, DPM, made the nomination to APMA, supported by several colleagues and approved by the APMA’s Award and Recognition Committee and its Board of Trustees. Harkless garnered 12 letters of recommendation from many prominent physicians in addition to several executive directors, all of whom have known and worked closely with Dr. Jones throughout his 33-year career.

"This demonstrates high commitment to excellence in education, leadership and service during an outstanding career," Harkless said. "He’s one of the hardest-working individuals I know, serving with compassion, humility, integrity and credibility."

Jones’ experience is vast. He graduated from the California College of Podiatric Medicine (CCPM) in 1975, and was a classmate of Harkless’; in fact, Harkless was the very first classmate Jones met as a student at CCPM.

Upon completion of his four-year medical education at CCPM and an affiliated campus of the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine from 1971-75, he completed a two-year residency at Pacific Coast Hospital, CCPM and UCSF affiliated campuses. He also became the second candidate at CCPM to be selected for a fellowship.

Jones received a postdoctoral Master of Science degree in Biomechanics and Medical Education. Following his postgraduate educational program, he was recruited by CCPM as an Assistant Professor and Assistant Director for the Department of Podiatric Biomechanics. Within his first three years as a full-time faculty member at CCPM, he was promoted to associate professor, and was granted tenure in 1980.

Jones was recruited to the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine and was Dean of Clinical Affairs and Associate Professor of Biomechanics/Orthopaedics from 1987-1989. He was the first African-American podiatric physician to hold the position of dean at a college of podiatric medicine in the United States.

He returned to CCPM in late 1989 to resume teaching and to work in a part-time private practice in San Francisco, where he grew up.

In September 1997, Dr. Jones was appointed Department Chair for Podiatric Medicine and Surgery at the VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System, one of the largest and most sophisticated academic health science centers in the United States. This major facility is a key component in the Veterans Integrated Service Network, and is a major teaching affiliate of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. As part of the recruitment effort, Jones became the first podiatric physician and surgeon to be credentialed as a faculty member in the Department of Surgery/Division of General Surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

While at VA Greater Los Angeles, he held two positions: Associate Chief of Staff for Quality Assurance, and Department Chair/Chief of Podiatric Surgery. He developed the first comprehensive limb preservation clinics in the VA system and effected change in the quality of care provided to veterans.

"I made it a point to transcend the traditional roles usually assumed by the majority of my colleagues and crossed over into the realm of management, roles that are traditionally reserved for physicians (MDs and DOs) within academic health science centers," Jones said.

The position afforded him the opportunity to establish a program of full disclosure of medical errors that helped improve VA-Los Angeles’ performance in the management of tort claims and other medical-legal issues. With the establishment of the Patient Safety Assessment Team, Jones was able to set the stage for development of best practices for management of medical incidents and performance improvement within the VA system.

Jones became Chief of Podiatric Surgery at Olive View Medical Center in Sylmar, and continues to hold that position. Dr. Aksone Nouvong, CPM’s Assistant Dean of Clinical Affairs and Assistant Professor of Podiatric Medicine, Surgery & Biomechanics, was the first resident Dr. Jones brought on staff at Olive View, in 1997.

One of Jones’ most significant contributions has been his leadership in developing the VA Greater Los Angeles-Olive View/UCLA Medical Center integrated podiatric medical and surgical residency training program, which is one of the premier programs in the nation. Jones continues to oversee the program from his position as the Division Chief of Podiatric Surgery at Olive View/UCLA Medical Center.

In 2006, he began consulting with Harkless to develop a new College of Podiatric Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences.

"We (Harkless and I) had spoken on numerous occasions about an opportunity to develop a new college of podiatric medicine that focused on a comprehensive medical education infused with the principles and practice of modern podiatric medicine. As the years passed by, this opportunity seemed to wither away, until I received a telephone call from Dr. Harkless that the dream of a college of podiatric medicine was within our grasp," Jones said. "Within a few short months, we had formed a consultative team and assumed the task of developing the first new college of podiatric medicine in the state of California for the 21st century."

In July 2007, Jones accepted a position as Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at WesternU’s College of Podiatric Medicine. His broad exposure in clinical facilities helps him focus on students, especially CPM’s inaugural class in 2009.

He also brought a great deal of experience to the University with regard to accreditation, serving as chair of the Council on Podiatric Medical Education accreditation team. Jones looks back at his body of work and experience in the academic environment and says he can’t believe a generation has passed, and that it seems like he’s just getting started.

He has trained literally thousand of students, residents and fellows, most of whom are well-respected private practitioners throughout the nation, others of whom are members of college and residency training programs, faculty members, directors or administrators. Jones has certainly achieved his status as one of the profession’s leading educators.

"I look forward to the graduation of the (CPM) inaugural class of 2013, which will signify the successful conclusion of a truly gratifying opportunity to give back to the profession of podiatric medicine and society," he concluded.