The field of podiatry is still relatively small, but the demand for podiatrists is constantly growing. These doctors can be found in specialty fields, such as sports or pediatrics. Accredited doctoral programs are still hard to find, with only nine schools offering programs.
Doctors of podiatry, also known as podiatrists, diagnose and treat conditions related to the foot, ankle and lower leg. Podiatrists focus on all types of injuries and complaints, ranging from ingrown toenails, corns and calluses to fallen arches, infections and diabetes-induced foot conditions. A podiatrist is a specialized doctor who must earn a podiatric medicine doctoral degree, complete a residency and earn licensure. Licensure is achieved by passing the American Podiatric Medical Licensing Exam and/or a state-administered test. Board certification is voluntary but is often preferred by patients.
|Required Education||Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree; completion of a podiatric medical residency|
|Other Requirements||State licensing is required|
|Certification||Board certification offered by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and the American Board of Podiatric Medicine|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||14% for podiatrists|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$119,340 for podiatrists|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Information for Doctors of Podiatry
Podiatry is a small profession, with an estimated 9,600 employed podiatrists in the United States in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Because the field is sometimes treated as specialty healthcare by insurance companies, doctors of podiatry rely more on out-of-pocket payments than do other physicians, which may contribute to making this focus less popular among practitioners. However, a 2007 University at Albany Center for Health Workforce Studies report found that the nation's small number of podiatry colleges will need to triple their number of graduates in the next 30 years in order to keep up with the nation's need for podiatry care (www.chws.albany.edu).
As of 2014, nine accredited colleges in the U.S. with programs leading to the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM). Admission requirements include completing either the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The first two years of the 4-year program focus on didactic coursework in the biological sciences, with the second two years providing practical experience through clinical rotations. After completing the program, doctors begin their postdoctoral residencies.
After completing their degrees, many podiatrists join group practices or immediately begin working on their own. Some treat the gamut of foot conditions while others specialize in sports medicine, geriatrics, pediatrics or a host of other areas. Podiatrists may also take jobs as hospital department chiefs, health administrators or university professors.
Doctor of Podiatry Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, job opportunities in the field of podiatry are expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations from 2014-2024. As an increasing number of Americans have problems with their feet and mobility, there will be demand in the field. The BLS also expects demand due to the need of outpatient surgery, which podiatrists can perform. And as lifespans extend, more senior citizens will visit podiatrists. The BLS reported that the median salary for podiatrists was $119,340 in May 2015 (www.bls.com).
Podiatrists work on identifying and treating problems with the lower leg, ankle and foot areas. To practice as a podiatrist, a podiatric doctoral degree program followed by a residency program must be completed before attaining licensure. Podiatrists may work in hospital, clinics, or private practices, and can move into administrative or academic positions.