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.
Education and training. 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.
In 2008, there were 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).
Most graduates 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, infectious disease, pediatrics, emergency
medicine, and orthopedic and general surgery. Residencies lasting more than 1
year provide more extensive training in specialty areas.
Licensure. All 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 healthcare institution. For
licensure renewal, most States require continuing education.
Other qualifications. 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.
Certification and advancement. 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 administrators.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
Find related resources below:
Podiatrist Job Outlook