What it takes to become a podiatrist
A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) diagnoses and treats conditions of the feet, ankles and lower leg. They also perform surgery and can specialize in many fields, including sports medicine, wound care, pediatrics and diabetic care.
DPMs work in private practice or in clinic settings, whether specific to podiatric medicine or part of a group practice with other specialist and health care providers. They might work in hospitals or outpatient care centers.
Podiatrists must have a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from an accredited college of podiatric medicine.
Admission to podiatric medicine programs requires at least three years of undergraduate education, including specific courses in laboratory sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics, as well as general coursework in subjects such as English. In practice, nearly all prospective podiatrists earn a bachelor’s degree before attending a college of podiatric medicine. Admission to DPM programs usually requires taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
Understanding and knowledge of the field is imperative. Just like any medical profession, exposure to the field and a clear understanding of why podiatry, as opposed to other types of medicine, is right for you, needs to be clearly articulated.
Podiatrists must have a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from an accredited college of podiatric medicine. A DPM degree program takes 4 years to complete. In 2017, there were 9 colleges of podiatric medicine accredited by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education. Courses for a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree are similar to those for other medical degrees. They include anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and pathology, among other subjects. During their last two years, podiatric medical students gain supervised experience by completing clinical rotations.
After earning a DPM, podiatrists must apply to and complete a 3-year podiatric medicine and surgery residency (PMSR) program. Residency programs take place in hospitals and provide both medical and surgical experience.
Podiatrists may complete additional training in specific fellowship areas, such as podiatric wound care or diabetic foot care, among others.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for podiatrists was $126,240 in May 2019.
Employment of podiatrists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
As the U.S. population ages, the number of people expected to have mobility and foot-related problems will rise, and podiatrists will be needed to treat these conditions. For example, older patients who remain active may incur injuries through exercise, and require foot and ankle care from podiatrists.
Growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, also may limit mobility of those with these conditions, and lead to problems such as foot ulcers and poor circulation in the feet and lower extremities. More podiatrists will be needed to provide care for these patients.