Podiatrists must be
licensed, requiring 3 to 4 years of undergraduate education, the
completion of a 4-year podiatric college program, and passing scores on
national and State examinations.
Prerequisites for admission to a college of
podiatric medicine include the completion of at least 90 semester hours
of undergraduate study, an acceptable grade point average, and suitable
scores on the Medical College Admission Test. (Some colleges also may
accept the Dental Admission Test or the Graduate Record Exam.)
Admission to podiatric
colleges usually requires at least 8 semester hours each of biology,
inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics and at least 6 hours
of English. The science courses should be those designed for premedical
students. Extracurricular and community activities, personal interviews,
and letters of recommendation are also important. About 95 percent of
podiatric students have at least a bachelor's degree.
There are currently
eight colleges of podiatric medicine fully accredited by the Council on
Podiatric Medical Education. Colleges of podiatric medicine offer a
4-year program whose core curriculum is similar to that in other schools
of medicine. During the first 2 years, students receive classroom
instruction in basic sciences, including anatomy, chemistry, pathology,
and pharmacology. Third-year and fourth-year students have clinical
rotations in private practices, hospitals, and clinics. During these
rotations, they learn how to take general and podiatric histories,
perform routine physical examinations, interpret tests and findings,
make diagnoses, and perform therapeutic procedures. Graduates receive
the degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM).
complete a hospital-based residency program after receiving a DPM.
Residency programs last from 2 to 4 years. Residents receive advanced
training in podiatric medicine and surgery and serve clinical rotations
in anesthesiology, internal medicine, pathology, radiology, emergency
medicine, and orthopedic and general surgery. Residencies lasting more
than 1 year provide more extensive training in specialty areas.
States and the District of Columbia require a license for the practice
of podiatric medicine. Each State defines its own licensing
requirements, although many States grant reciprocity to podiatrists who
are licensed in another State. Applicants for licensure must be
graduates of an accredited college of podiatric medicine and must pass
written and oral examinations. Some states permit applicants to
substitute the examination of the National Board of Podiatric Medical
Examiners, given in the second and fourth years of podiatric medical
college, for part or all of the written State examination. In general,
States require a minimum of 2 years of postgraduate residency training
in an approved health care institution. For licensure renewal, most
States require continuing education.
People planning a
career in podiatry should have scientific aptitude, manual dexterity,
interpersonal skills, and a friendly bedside manner. In private
practice, podiatrists also should have good business sense.
There are a number of
certifying boards for the podiatric specialties of orthopedics, primary
medicine, and surgery. Certification has requirements beyond licensure.
Each board requires advanced training, the completion of written and
oral examinations, and experience as a practicing podiatrist. Most
managed-care organizations prefer board-certified podiatrists.
Podiatrists may advance to become professors at colleges of podiatric
medicine, department chiefs in hospitals, or general health
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.