Podiatrists are doctors who specialize in treating feet, including injuries and diseases relating to the foot and foot health, disorders of the foot, and performing surgeries. Education to become a podiatrist begins with an undergraduate degree, then medical school, followed by residency, or podiatry college. They can opt to specialize in sports medicine.
Those looking to become podiatrists are trained to diagnose and heal foot injuries. All podiatrists must earn a doctorate in their field and become licensed in their state. Some common foot problems these professionals treat include cysts, shortened tendons and joint disorders. Podiatrists can attain administration roles and also open up their own practices. Students must take admission tests like the MCAT and DAT to be considered for medical school. Courses offered in podiatry include foot radiology, pathology and lower limb anatomy. Those looking to specialize in sports medicine should consider a residency program in that area after graduation.
|Education Requirements||Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM)|
|Other Requirements||Licensure required; A three-year residency is required of all podiatrists after graduation|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||14%|
|Mean Salary (2015)*||$136,180|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Podiatrist Education Requirements
Podiatrists diagnose and treat disorders of the foot, such as tumors, ingrown nails, cysts, bunions, joint disorders and shortened tendons. They may also be called on to perform surgeries, analyze patient medical histories, conduct x-rays, develop and fit prostheses and prescribe medications.
Some podiatrists, especially those in private practice, may even need to perform administrative duties, such as hiring personnel and updating financial records. Training for this career generally begins with undergraduate study and culminates with a residency or fellowship program.
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According to the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM), most college of podiatric medicine applicants have a bachelor's degree; however, only three years of education or 90 credit hours at an accredited institution are required for admission. Students must complete a certain number of semester hours in biology, chemistry, physics and other science courses.
Upon completion of the bachelor's degree, students will need to take an admissions test, such as the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or Dental Admission Test (DAT), submit several letters of recommendation and interview at the podiatric school they've chosen to attend, among other requirements.
Students in podiatry school are required to take courses in a variety of subjects, such as lower limb anatomy, foot radiology, orthopedics and pathology. After classroom and lab instruction, students go on to complete a medical clerkship or externship in real-life clinical settings. Graduates of podiatric programs are generally awarded the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine.
Podiatrists who plan on specializing are required to seek certification through a specialty certifying board, such as the American Board of Multiple Specialties in Podiatry or American Board of Podiatric Surgery. Candidates for certification complete a residency program and pass a written or oral examination, as well as provide documentation of work experience in the field. Residency and fellowship programs are available in sports medicine.
Although not required to specialize in sports medicine, podiatrists can also pursue the sports medicine fellow designation offered by the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine . This honorary designation may require additional education and professional experience in the field.
Employment Outlook and Earnings
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 14% job growth for podiatrists during the 2014-2024 decade. This faster-than-average growth is thanks in large part to a growing population and an increasing number of individuals with health problems affecting their mobility. Podiatrists earned a mean annual salary of $136,180 as of May 2015.
Podiatrists treat disorders, diseases or injuries of the feet. Podiatrists must complete an undergraduate and doctoral degree, usually followed by residency. They can choose to specialize in sports medicine.