Podiatrist

Overview

Podiatrists provide medical and surgical care for people with foot, ankle, and lower leg problems. They diagnose illnesses, treat injuries, and perform surgery involving the lower extremities.

Duties

Podiatrists typically do the following:

  • Assess the condition of a patient’s feet, ankles, or lower legs by reviewing his or her medical history, listening to the patient’s concerns, and performing a physical examination
  • Diagnose foot, ankle, and lower-leg problems through physical exams, x rays, medical laboratory tests, and other methods
  • Provide treatment for foot, ankle, and lower leg ailments, such as prescribing special shoe inserts (orthotics) to improve a patient’s mobility
  • Perform foot and ankle surgeries, such as removing bone spurs and correcting foot and ankle deformities
  • Give advice and instruction on foot and ankle care and on general wellness techniques
  • Prescribe medications
  • Refer patients to other physicians or specialists if they detect larger health problems, such as diabetes
  • Read journals and attend conferences to keep up with advances in podiatric medicine

Podiatrists treat a variety of foot and ankle ailments, including calluses, ingrown toenails, heel spurs, and arch problems. They also treat foot and leg problems associated with diabetes and other diseases. Some podiatrists spend most of their time performing advanced surgeries, such as foot and ankle reconstruction. Others may choose a specialty such as sports medicine or pediatrics.

Podiatrists who own their practice may spend time on business-related activities, such as hiring employees and managing inventory.

Details

Potential Employers

  • Offices of Podiatry, either on their own or with other podiatrists
  • Physicians’ Offices
  • Specialists’ Offices
  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient Care Centers

Work Environment

Most podiatrists work full time. Podiatrists’ offices may be open in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate patients. In hospitals, podiatrists may have to work occasional nights or weekends, or may be on call. They have regular contact with patients and deal with all ages from children and sports injuries to the elderly and issues such as diabetes.

Job Outlook

Employment of podiatrists is projected to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 2,400 new jobs over the 10-year period.

As the U.S. population both ages and increases, the number of people expected to have mobility and foot-related problems will rise. 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 poor circulation in the feet and lower extremities. More podiatrists will be needed to provide care for these patients.

In addition, podiatrists are increasingly working in group practices along with other healthcare professionals. Continued growth in the use of outpatient surgery also will create new opportunities for podiatrists.

Job prospects for trained podiatrists should be good given that there are a limited number of colleges of podiatry. In addition, the retirement of currently practicing podiatrists in the coming yeas is expected to increase the number of openings for podiatrists.

Aptitudes

  • Compassion
  • Critical-Thinking Skills
  • Detail Oriented
  • Interpersonal Skills

Education

Requirements

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. There are currently only 9 colleges of podiatric medicine accredited by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education.

Admission to podiatric medicine programs requires at least 3 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).

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 2 years, podiatric medical students gain supervised experience by completing clinical rotations.

After earning a DPM, podiatrists must apply to and complete a podiatric medical and surgical residency (PMSR) program, which lasts 3 years. Residency programs take place in hospitals and provide both medical and surgical experience. They may do additional training in specific fellowship areas.

Programs in Nebraska

Currently no programs exist in Nebraska for Podiatry.

Related / Links

For more information about podiatrists, visit

American Podiatric Medical Association

For information on colleges of podiatric medicine and their entrance requirements, curricula, and student financial aid, visit

American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine

For a list of accredited podiatric programs and residency programs, visit

Council on Podiatric Medical Education

For more information about the podiatric licensing exam, visit

The National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners

For more information about board certification, visit

American Board of Podiatric Surgery

American Board of Podiatric Medicine