What is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a physician with a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree who diagnoses and treats disorders, diseases, and injuries of the foot and lower leg. Diagnostic techniques that podiatrists use include physical exams, x-rays, bone scans and laboratory tests. To treat feet and lower legs, podiatrists perform surgery, set fractures, prescribe drugs, order physical therapy, and design corrective inserts for shoes, or casts and strapping for feet. Podiatric examinations can be the first to detect diabetes, arthritis, and even heart disease.
What do Podiatrists do?
The majority of podiatrists work in private practices, many of which are group practices with other health professionals. Some specialize in surgery, orthopedics, primary care, or public health. Besides these board-certified specialties, podiatrists may practice other specialties, such as sports medicine, pediatrics, dermatology, radiology, geriatrics, or diabetic foot care. In addition to private practices, podiatrists are employed by hospitals, retirement centers, government agencies and sports teams.
What is the current job market?
There are about 12,200 podiatrists in the US. The number of jobs in podiatry is expected to grow slowly over time due to the aging of the population, and therefore the greater need for foot care. The 2009 average net income was $115,560.
There are nine colleges of podiatric medicine in the US. Podiatric programs take 4 years to complete and much of the training, especially in the first 2 years, is the same as that in other schools of medicine. During the first 2 years, students learn basic sciences including anatomy, biochemistry, nutrition, pathology, and pharmacology. Third- and fourth-year students have clinical rotations in private practices, hospitals, and clinics. Most new DPMs complete a hospital-based residency program lasting from 2 to 4 years. Residencies include advanced training in surgery, anesthesiology, internal medicine, pathology, radiology, and emergency medicine.
The podiatric medical school in Florida is at Barry University. Barry receives about 300 applications and matriculate about 50 students to their podiatric program each year. The mean GPA of students starting DPM programs each year is about 3.3. The mean MCAT score of these students is about 22.
The prerequisite courses for most DPM programs include a year of Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physics with labs. Barry also recommends biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, and anatomy and physiology.
There is an online application service (AACPMAS) that processes applications to podiatric schools.
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