Podiatrists treat diseases of the foot. They treat foot disorders such as infections. They also treat problems associated with diabetes such as foot ulcers, corns, and arches. They prescribe physical therapy, surgery, drugs, and shoes to correct long-term foot problems that also include deformities. They order laboratory tests and make long-term foot care referrals. Most podiatrists have a general practice. They may also work for a firm or the federal government. They may specialize in other forms of medicine such as public health, geriatrics, sports medicine, or rehabilitative and therapeutic health. Podiatrists are in great demand today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to increase to nine percent by 2018.
Podiatrists Job Responsibilities
Podiatrists may work as low as thirty hours per week, with their time exceeding fifty hours in the same week. Depending on the type of patient, they may work as along as sixty hours per week to include nights and weekends. They manage their own hours in private practice. They visit nursing home patients. They perform surgery at clinics, within their private offices, and in ambulatory centers. They don’t handle as many emergencies as typical medical doctors. They may work for the federal government or in a hospital facility. Long-term career development opportunities include working as professors, chiefs of departments, and hospital administrators.
They also work with sufferers of diabetes and manage foot problems of overweight patients. They diagnose circulatory problems and apply leg braces.
Podiatrists Training and Education Requirements
Podiatrists typically have a bachelor’s degree in an undergraduate degree such as biology or chemistry. Students must first complete four years of undergraduate study. They enroll in courses such as biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, and other introductory sciences; and they take some hours in English.
The specialty also requires students to complete an additional four years of pre-medical and podiatric coursework. Before they can enter a podiatry program, students must take a national exam, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Some college programs may substitute the MCAT for the Dental Admission Test or for the Graduate Record Examination.
During the first two years of post-graduate study, students must take courses in general sciences and pre-medical studies. They take courses in anatomy, pathology, and other general sciences.
After these two years, students serve in clinics through rotations and practicum. During their one-year residency program, students perform physical examinations and specialty procedures under program supervision. They rotate in many departments such as internal medicine, emergency, pediatrics, orthopedic surgery, and geriatrics. They diagnose foot problems. They evaluate X-ray tests. They interpret findings. Graduates of the program receive a degree in in podiatry medicine, the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM).
Podiatrists are licensed professionals. To receive a license, they must pass an oral and written state examination given by the National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners and enroll in continuing education coursework.
Podiatrists must have great interpersonal skills and a business management aptitude.
Podiatrists Salary and Wages
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for May 2008 was $113,560. Podiatrists with their own practices made significantly less than those working for a large firm. Podiatrists who work for large firms do not have the added costs associated with providing employee health insurance and retirement benefits and managing additional overhead costs such as employee salaries.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Podiatrists must be certified in a specialty of podiatric medicine in addition to licensing requirements and they must be board-certified by The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). The APMA reviews institutional applications for specialty board recognition. They review the institution’s mission to ensure health and general public safety.
Podiatrists may be certified in three recognized areas of podiatry: primary medicine, surgery, or orthopedics. To be certified, podiatrists must undergo specific training to include clinical coursework and practicum and sit for an examination to test their knowledge, skill, and aptitude for the field.
Podiatrists Professional Associations
Podiatrists may join The Council on Podiatric Medical Education (CPME). The CPME sets education requirements for specialties of the field of podiatry. It was created in 1918 to evaluate accreditation procedures. It is recognized by the National Commission on Accrediting, the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation, and by The American Podiatric Medical Association. The CPME approves continuing education programs that incorporate the study of podiatry.
The CPME is authorized by The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) to recognize specialty boards. To carry out this task, the Council created the Joint Committee on the Recognition of Specialty Boards (JCRSB) to ensure that practitioners have completed certification requirements. The JCRSB recognizes specialty boards. It is comprised of practitioners of the field and other specialty boards. It provides information to the general public about the operations and certification process. It ensures that the certification process is fair and that institutions for specialty board recognition support the mission of the JCSRB, which is to recognize those institutions that desire to serve by providing a service to the general public based upon a legitimate need and a long-term benefit. The JCRSB has authorized the following boards for two areas of specialty:
- American Board of Podiatric Orthopedics and Primary Podiatric Medicine (podiatric medicine)
- American Board of Podiatric Surgery (podiatric surgery)