Podiatric Medicine as a Career
Students interested in podiatric medicine should consider a number of factors. First and foremost, the lifestyle offered by a career in podiatric medicine fits the goals of many young people today. While podiatrist work hard, they also have the time to pursue their own individual interests.
There are seven colleges of podiatric medicine in the United States. They all receive accreditation from the Council on Podiatric Medical Education, which is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. All of the colleges grant the degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM). Students who are interested in attending a college of podiatric medicine can contact any of the colleges directly for more information.
Approximately 95% of all first-year students entering the colleges of podiatric medicine possess baccalaureate degrees and about 10% have advanced degrees. As with institutions granting MD and DO degrees, the colleges may consider candidates who show unusual promise and have completed a minimum of 90 semester hours at accredited undergraduate colleges or universities. Applicants for admissions are also required to complete the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) as a prerequisite although some of the colleges accept the Graduate Record Examination (GRD) as well.
Candidates for podiatric medical schools can apply online by contacting the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine at www.aacpm.org. In addition, the AACPM has a mentor network that matches students interested in podiatric medicine to podiatrist in their area.
The course of instruction leading to the DPM degree is four years in length. The first two years are devoted largely to classroom instruction and laboratory work in the basic medical sciences, such as anatomy, physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, and pathology. During the third and fourth years, students concentrate on courses in clinical sciences, gaining experience in the college clinics, community clinics, and accredited hospitals. Clinical courses include but are not limited to general diagnosis, dermatology, general medicine, podiatric surgery, trauma, and biomechanics.
After completing the four-year course of study in podiatric medicine and receiving the DPM degree, the doctor then normally begins a postdoctoral residency program. These programs are designed to strengthen and refine the practitionerâ€™s podiatric medical primary care, orthopedic, and/or surgical skills. Residency programs are based in accredited hospitals and normally last one to three years. Podiatric residents often rotate through private offices as well, in order to learn important business and interpersonal skills.
In addition to private offices and HMOs, podiatric physicians serve on the staffs of hospitals and long-term care facilities, and on the faculties of schools of medicine and nursing. They can also be commissioned officers in the Armed Forces and U.S. Public Health Service, work in the Department of Veterans Affairs, and in municipal health departments. Many podiatrists today are also members of group medical practices. They are active in their communities as well.
While podiatric medicine is already a medical specialty, many practitioners can focus on a particular area of podiatric medicine. These options can include surgery, sports medicine, biomechanics, geriatrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, and primary care.
Podiatric physicians are licensed in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to treat the foot and its related or governing structures by medical, surgical, or other means. The vast majority of states also include ankle care as part of the podiatric physicianâ€™s scope of practice. Nearly all private and public health insurance plans provide coverage for the services of doctors of podiatric medicine.
For further information on podiatric medicine as a career as well as salary information, please visit the U.S. Department of Labor