Podiatrist Vs. MD

Podiatrists and MDs work in related fields and perform some similar tasks but they concentrate on different types of medical issues. This article compares podiatrists and MDs in greater detail.

Comparing Podiatrists to MDs

Podiatrists and medical doctors (MDs) are medical professionals with doctoral degrees and medical licenses. While medical doctors may treat a wide range of illnesses and injuries affecting all parts of a person's body, podiatrists specifically focus on medical issues related to a person's feet; they also provide medical care for people's lower legs and ankles.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Podiatrists Medical degree $124,830 10%
Medical Doctors Medical degree $190,490 (family and general practitioners) 16% (family and general practitioners)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Podiatrists vs. MDs

On a superficial level the work that podiatrists and MDs do is very similar; they see patients, assess their health, provide a diagnosis for medical conditions they identify and then provide or order treatment for their patients. One of the differences between them is that podiatrists specifically focus on medical issues that affect a patient's lower legs or their feet or ankles. Although they concentrate on a small part of a person's body they can perform a very wide range of tasks and are qualified to perform surgery on these parts of the body. Medical doctors may treat patients who have been hurt or become ill. They can provide general care for a wide range of medical problems affecting people but must refer patients with more serious issues to surgeons or specialists.


In order to become a podiatrist it is necessary to complete a doctoral degree in podiatric medicine. Podiatrists must also be licensed and complete a residency in their field. They are specifically trained to treat patients who have issues related to their feet. This can also include diagnosing and treating issues with a person's ankle or the lower part of their leg. They diagnose the patient's condition and prescribe or perform treatment for their condition. Most podiatrists work in medical offices and can work day, evening and weekend hours. Those that work in hospitals may work at any time of the day or night.

Job responsibilities of a podiatrist include:

  • Talking to patients about their medical concerns
  • Examining patients feet, ankles or the lower part of their legs
  • Ordering tests
  • Teaching patients how to care for specific medical issues
  • Arranging for patients to see specialists or other medical experts when necessary
  • Operating on patients


MDs are medical doctors. They are required to have a medical degree and a license and they must also complete a residency in their field. They may work in hospitals, medical clinics, or a doctor's office and it's common for them to work evenings and weekends; those who work in hospitals may work overnight shifts as well. Medical doctors are responsible for providing medical care to their patients by identifying the cause of their medical issues and determining the right way to treat their condition. They may be involved with treating illnesses or providing care for people who have been injured.

Job responsibilities of an MD include:

  • Assessing the patient's condition
  • Ordering medical tests
  • Reviewing test results
  • Prescribing medications
  • Referring patients to specialists
  • Updating patient records

Related Careers

Since the work that podiatrists and MDs do is so similar, those interested in these professions may also want to consider being a physical therapist or a health nurse practitioner. These medical professionals are also capable of diagnosing and treating health issues and are explored further in the information linked to here:

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