How to Become a Podiatrist
How to Become a Podiatrist
Every day millions of people spend a lot of time on their feet and many of them need specialized foot care. Podiatry is the branch of medicine that specializes in treating foot, ankle, and lower leg conditions and podiatrists are specially trained medical doctors that provide care to many different patients.
What does a podiatrist do?
Podiatrists (also known as Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPMs)) are medical professionals who diagnose and treat foot and lower leg injuries, disorders, and diseases. They treat conditions such as calluses, corns, heel spurs, bunions, ingrown toenails, and arch problems. They also treat injuries, infections, deformities, and foot complaints related to diabetes and other conditions. They diagnose conditions using x-rays and laboratory tests. They commonly prescribe medication and physical therapy and perform surgical procedures. Podiatrists also design plaster casts and strappings to treat deformities, fit corrective shoe inserts, and design custom-made shoes. Sometimes foot complaints are the first sign of more serious diseases such as heart disease and diabetes and podiatrists often refer patients with more serious conditions to other physicians.
What kind of training does a need?
Podiatrists must complete a bachelor degree and a 4 year podiatric college program resulting in the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree. Prospective podiatrists typically complete courses in biology, chemistry, anatomy, pathology, and physics. They also complete clinical rotations in hospitals, clinics, and private practices. After completion of their program, most podiatrists complete residency programs that last from 2 to 4 years and provide advancing training. All states require podiatrists to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but usually include graduating from an accredited podiatric medicine program and passing a series of examinations. Podiatrists must complete continuing education courses to renew their licenses. Many podiatrists gain board certification to remain competitive in the field.
What are the prospects for a career as a podiatrist?
Employment of podiatrists is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 9% from 2006 to 2016 (1). An aging population and the increased demand for podiatric medicine services will drive job growth.
Job prospects should be good especially for podiatrists that are board-certified. Some job openings will arise from the need to replace podiatrists that retire or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do podiatrists make?
As of November 2009, the middle 50% of podiatrists earn annual salaries between $120,529 and $216,483. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $271,077 (2).
A career as a podiatrist is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in podiatry and providing care to a variety of patients. Podiatrists must have scientific aptitude, manual dexterity, and good bedside manner. They must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills because they interact with a variety of patients and other professionals. Podiatrists must be able to work in stressful situations and make quick decisions during emergencies.