What is Podiatry?

Podiatry Overview

Podiatrists specialize in medical and surgical care of the foot, ankle and lower leg. They obtain a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.) degree from an accredited college of podiatric medicine. Podiatrists are sometimes referred to as foot doctors, foot and ankle surgeons, or podiatric surgeons. They must pass written and oral board examinations and must obtain a state license in order to practice podiatric medicine.

Podiatrists work in private practices, hospitals, and clinics, and may become professors at colleges of podiatric medicine, department chiefs, and hospital administrators.

Podiatry Education

Admission to a college of podiatric medicine requires completion of at least 90 semester hours of undergraduate study, an acceptable grade point average, and acceptable scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Required courses include biology, chemistry (inorganic and organic), and physics. Prospective students are also evaluated on the basis of letters of recommendation, interviews, and extracurricular activities.

Colleges of podiatric medicine offer 4-year programs similar to other medical schools. During the first 2 years, students take courses in anatomy, pathology, biochemistry, neurology and pharmacology. Third- and fourth-year students perform clinical rotations in private practices, hospitals, clinics in both the areas of podiatry and other specialties. During clinical rotations students take patient histories, perform physical examinations, interpret diagnostic tests, make diagnoses, and provide treatment. Graduates receive a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.) degree.

Each state has its own licensing requirements, and many grant reciprocity to podiatrists licensed in other states. In most cases, an applicant must be a graduate of an accredited college of podiatric medicine and must pass written and oral examinations.

Most states require completion of a 1- to 3-year postdoctoral residency program and continuing medical education (CME) for license renewal. Residents receive advanced training in podiatric medicine and surgery and perform clinical rotations in the following: Anesthesiology, Emergency medicine, Internal medicine, Orthopedic and general surgery, Infectious Disease, Radiology, and Vascular Surgery.

Podiatrist Certification Requirements

Certification in Podiatry requires graduation from podiatric medical school; completion of an approved podiatric surgical residency; practice experience, including surgical case submissions; and written and oral examinations.