Podiatric physicians (or podiatrists) prevent, diagnose, and treat foot and ankle disorders, diseases, and injuries. Podiatrists are often the first to diagnose a number of systemic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and are integral to the treatment of those diseases. Podiatrists use physical exams, x-rays, and laboratory tests to diagnose conditions; prescribe medications; order physical therapy; set fractures; and perform surgery. By helping patients with gait, balance and pain issues, DPMs are often able to make walking much more efficient and comfortable for their patients. Podiatric physicians work in many settings including private and group practices, hospitals, extended care facilities, public health, Veterans Affairs hospitals, and the U.S. Armed Forces. Although most practice general care, some podiatrists specialize in sports medicine, pediatrics, dermatology, radiology, geriatrics, surgery, and diabetic foot care.
Preparation and Applying
- Shadowing experience with podiatric physicians is strongly encouraged to ensure this is the right field for you and that you have an accurate understanding of the field.
- Podiatry schools are competitive largely because there are so few of them.
- Research experience is a plus.
- Leadership skills, extra-curricular and community activities, and demonstration of empathy are also needed.
- Prerequisite courses are fairly standard between programs.
- All required courses must have a minimum grade of C.
- Application is made through a centralized application service, the AACPMAS.
- Take an aptitude test. The MCAT is the most commonly required, but a few programs accept the GRE or the DAT
- Competitive applicants will have:
- Strong academic performance including a grade point average of about a 3.3
- Scores on the MCAT, GRE, or DAT that mirror national average or above
- Leadership, teamwork, and communication skills
- Undergraduate research experience
- Volunteer and shadowing/observation experiences
- Strong, positive letters of recommendation (mostly from science faculty and a podiatrist)
- Early application is recommended. The application opens at the end of July and application is ideal by early September of the senior year (assuming a 4 year graduation timeline).
Education and Licensure
- After completing the bachelor’s degree, students attend a podiatric medical program for 4 years followed by a comprehensive 3 year podiatric medicine and surgery residency.
- A board exam is required for licensure.