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What is Podiatry?
Podiatry and Podiatric medicine is the discipline within the umbrella of medicine that focuses on the proper care and management of the lower extremities. Doctors utilize medical, physical, and surgical care to properly care for patient’s feet. Podiatric physicians are trained to utilize leading-edge medical techniques and technology to examine, diagnose, treat, and prevent foot disorders along with early detection measures. For example, a podiatrist will have the skills and know-how to detect systemic diseases such as circulatory disorders and diabetes that may present itself in a patient’s feet before signs elsewhere.
How to Become a Podiatric Doctor
The degree offered by accredited colleges and universities to podiatric students is a doctorate degree known as a DPM. A DPM degree stands for Doctor of Podiatric Medicine. Doctorate degrees such as a DPM or PhD are known as terminal degrees as there are no additional degrees beyond the doctoral degree in the field of study.
To begin matriculation at a college or university offering podiatric medicine, it is important to ascertain the school’s accreditation. Colleges accredited by The Council on Podiatric Medicine Education (CPME) is the professional accreditation body of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) recognized by both CHEA and the U.S. Department of Education. In addition to providing accreditation to colleges and universities, the CPME is responsible for the approval of fellowship programs, residency programs, continuing education programs, and specialty certifying boards.
Earning a DPM will take 4-6 years of full-time matriculation and longer for part-time students based on pace & course load. DPM programs will vary from school to school but will typically follow a similar format. The first phase of the program lays an essential scientific foundation laden with key principles of practice. Classes such as biology, chemistry, anatomy, dermal systems, physiology, endocrine systems, neuroscience, therapeutics, renal systems, pathology, and microbiology lay the framework for long-term success. These foundational classes help podiatric students understand x-rays, radiographs, charts, diagrams, microscopic elements, and various osseous tissue.
Phase two of the DPM program fuses basic sciences with clinical sciences to study the human organ system. The case studies and clinical trial examinations emphasizes the relevance of basic science in a clinical setting. The final phase of a podiatric program will entail extensive clinical rotations. The hands-on learning is essential to help formulate decision-making skills with medical knowledge and clinical skills.
Education Requirements from Graduate Schools
Podiatry is a graduate level education that confers onto the student a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree upon completion. Individuals should have a related undergraduate level degree and have performed well on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to be admitted into a program. Individuals will study a variety of topics in order to round out their education and prepare individuals with the knowledge necessary to diagnose and treat ailments.
A curriculum will include:
- Biomedical Science
Individuals will apply to medical schools that offer programs in podiatry. As such, individuals should make certain that the facilities and curriculum offered are current and relevant. Practical experience during education is invaluable, and schools with high ratings in this regard are more desirable. Additionally, schools that have large numbers of graduates defaulting on loans are also less desirable.
Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
Employment Opportunities for Podiatrists
The number of jobs for podiatrists is expected to increase over the next decade as more and more individuals gain access to healthcare, and the aging of the United States population results in pain and other ailments related to the foot and lower leg. Podiatrists are also seeing increased participation in group settings, and as such are becoming more common in the overall treatment and assessment of patient health.
The median annual salary for a podiatrist is $124,830 with the top 25% making $182,420 a year on average and the bottom twenty-five percent averaging $78,130 annually. Podiatry is estimated to grow at a 14% clip in the coming decade translating to an additional 3,300 jobs during this reporting period.
Common Foot Problems Diagnosed by a Podiatrist
Podiatric physicians are uniquely trained to diagnose an array of common foot and ankle pathologies. Through the use us x-ray technology, overt signs, associated symptoms, differential diagnosis, and lab tests a podiatrist can help detect, diagnose, and treat a variety of foot and ankle issues. A list of common foot problems diagnosed by a podiatric physician include the following:
- Bacterial infections
- Heel Spur syndrome
- Nail deformities (Onychomycosis)
- Stress fracture
- Hallux valgus
- Degenerative joint disease
- Gouty arthritis
- Hallux limits
- Plantar calluses
- Rigid flatfoot
- Contracted & deformed lesser digits
- Hyperpronation on hindfoot
- Hipersupination of hindfoot
- Morton's Neuroma
- Capsulities of forefoot
- Fungal infections
- Ankle sprains
Top Paying States for Podiatrists
- Hawaii $273,040
- Nebraska $228,050
- Wisconsin $213,600
- Minnesota $196,500
- Arkansas $190,710
The American Podiatric Medical Association is a professional organization the provides protection and advancement of podiatric interests, as well as maintaining resources that allow for updates and advancements in procedure and education for practicing podiatrists.