Podiatry Training Programs and Requirements

A podiatrist provides medical care for feet and ankles, including the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of foot and ankle conditions. They may treat a range of problems, such as arthritis, deformities, bunions, arch problems and heel spurs. In addition to earning bachelor's degrees, podiatrists are required to attend 4-year, podiatry schools followed by residency programs.

Essential Information

Those interested in pursuing careers as podiatrists must first complete bachelor's degree programs. This is followed by application to an accredited college of podiatric medicine. Students may choose to further specialize and must be licensed in order to legally practice. Most podiatrists begin their educations by earning bachelor's degrees. While many students choose to major in science-related fields, it is generally not required. Students who hold unrelated bachelor's degrees may be asked to complete certain science courses before applying to podiatry school. A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree must be earned in order to practice as a podiatrist.

  • Program Levels in Podiatry: Doctoral programs
  • Program Length: 4 years for doctoral programs
  • Prerequisites: Have a bachelor's degree before entering a doctoral program

Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine

The Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) is a 4-year, specialized medical degree program. Although the first two years of study are similar to those of Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree programs, students in their third and fourth years take podiatry-specific courses, including lower-extremity biomechanics, lower-limb anatomy and podiatric trauma. Clinical rotations are also required in areas like radiology and podiatric surgery. Some common course topics in these programs might include:

  • Clinical anatomy
  • Neuroscience
  • Biomechanics
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, podiatrist make a mean annual wage of $137,480 as of May 2014. The job outlook for this career is expected to grow 23% from 2012-2022, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations.

Continuing Education

All podiatrists must be state licensed before they can legally practice. This involves holding a DPM degree from an accredited institution and passing an officially administered oral and written exam. Additional requirements may vary from state to state. A passing score on the National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners (NBPME) exam may qualify podiatrists for licensing in some states. The NBPME exam consists of three sections that are generally taken in sequence.

Podiatry workshops are widely available and often address new technological advances. Sports medicine organizations and local universities may offer seminars on a variety subjects, including foot and ankle rehabilitation, neurological assessment in podiatry and radiology of the foot. Some workshops may address cost control techniques in podiatric care. Most states require podiatrists to complete a certain number of continuing education hours in order to maintain certification. Colleges of podiatric medicine may offer on-site or online courses on a variety of topics, including podopediatrics, functional orthopedics and dermatology. Podiatrists may also obtain specialty certifications that require advanced podiatry training, practical podiatry experience and additional competency testing.

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