Becoming A Podiatrist

A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM), known also as a podiatric physician or surgeon, qualifed by their education and training to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg. When treating patients, this system is also known as the lower extremity. Podiatric physicians are uniquely qualified among medical professionals to treat the lower extremity based on their education, training and expertise. Podiatrists are defined as physicians by the federal government.

A DPM is a specialist in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of lower extremity disorders, diseases and injuries. A podiatric physician works independently, utilizes x-rays and laboratory tests for diagnostic purposes, prescribes medications, orders physical therapy, sets fractures, and performs surgery. As part of a healthcare team, the DPM works closely with other health professionals to treat and control disease.

A healthy lower extremity is essential to a patient’s overall well-being; it can also be a key indicator of serious health problems. Arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can be routinely detected in the lower extremity by a DPM. Recent studies have shown that, compared to other healthcare professionals, podiatric physicians are the most proficient at treating diabetic complications in the lower extremity, preventing amputations, reducing hospital stays, and decreasing the economic burden to our health-care delivery systems (Carls, et al., 2011).

Good candidates with which to discuss podiatry careers are students who have medical career interests in sports medicine, surgery, dermatology, pediatrics, radiology, and infectious diseases. They may also express a desire to work one-on-one with patients. Additionally, students with strong business, social, community service and leadership backgrounds will be able to complement these interests to a career in podiatric medicine. Students with strong research preparation are able to pursue physician-scientist options within podiatric medicine.

Courtesy of the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine 

"The American Podiatric Medical Students’ Association is the national, student-led organization that serves as the collective voice for all podiatric medical students. We are committed to the protection and advancement of student rights and interests by advocating in legislative and educational arenas. We provide resources to our members to assist them throughout their education as they transition into podiatric residents and physicians."