What Are the Requirements to Become a Podiatrist?

A podiatrist also called a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) assesses and treats any diseases, injuries and problems with the lower leg, ankle and foot. Additionally, a podiatrist prescribes medication to patients, refers them for physiotherapy and performs surgery. Becoming a podiatrist requires education, skills, and an understanding of the podiatry field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a podiatrist in 2008 was £73,814 a year.

Knowing the Job Requirements

A podiatrist generally treats patients with foot problems such as bunions, calluses and infections. Treating foot problems consists of using X-rays and lab tests. This job also involves working with patients who have heart disease, arthritis and diabetes, and may also have complications with their feet because of these diseases. The podiatrist treats foot problems like genetic deformities by fitting patients with corrective shoe inserts and shoes. To do this, the podiatrist uses a scanner. According to BLS, patients walk across the scanner, which reads the weight distribution and pressure points in their feet. A podiatrist may also set fractures in the ankle, foot, or lower leg.

A podiatrist working in a solo practice supervises support staff and administrative personnel. According to BLS, podiatrists also may visit patients in nursing homes and perform surgery in surgical centres.

Obtaining Education and Licensure in Podiatry

Becoming a podiatrist requires an advanced education. Although podiatry schools allow undergraduate students with at least 90 credit hours to attend, 95 per cent of individuals entering the school have a bachelor's degree, according to My Pursuit. A person wanting to enter the field must graduate from a podiatry program accredited by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education. Completing the degree typically takes four years and includes a combination of courses and clinical rotations. The latter allows a person to learn how to make diagnoses, perform examinations and work with patients. After receiving the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree, an individual continues with a hospital residency. This program takes two to four years to complete, according to BLS. The residency gives students advanced training in surgery, podiatry and working in different areas of medicine.

Practicing podiatry requires a state license. Obtaining a license includes passing a written and oral state examination. Before applying to take an examination, an individual must have a minimum of two years of training after graduation, according to BLS.

Becoming Qualified

A person interested in becoming a podiatrist needs great communication skills, the ability to understand scientific theories and a desire to help people. Anyone interested in pursuing private practice needs additional skills in business, marketing, and management.

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