Also known as Doctors of Podiatry, Podiatrists treat injuries and problems related to the ankles, feet and lower legs. They perform surgical procedures, prescribe medicines and offer physical therapy support for people dealing with foot injuries.
As of 2020, there were approximately 12,100 podiatrists operating in America. This is according to the latest records of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you have any plans of joining this field in the near future, then read this piece. It outlines the complete process of becoming a podiatrist.
Should I Become a Podiatrist?
|Education||Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM)|
|Area of Study/Major Requirement||
|Management and Administration, Communication Skills, Active Listening, Problem Sensitivity, Patience, Physical Stamina|
|Annual Mean Salary – US (2020)||$151,110|
|Job Outlook (2020-2030)||2%|
Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net Online
As a podiatrist, you will have to deal with somewhat fewer emergency situations compared to other types of medical practitioners. However, you have to be on-call during a shift. Day-to-day responsibilities include setting fractures, taking and examining X-rays, helping with physical therapy, etc.
From 2020 to 2030, employment opportunities for podiatrists in the country are predicted to increase by 2%. This is as fast as the average growth expected in most other sectors. The growing population means more people will be moving around. As a result, there will be more chances of individuals sustaining foot-related injuries.
Steps t o Become a Podiatrist
To become a podiatrist in the US, you should follow the process outlined below.
- Bachelor’s Degree
Start off by pursuing a Bachelor’s degree. At this stage, there is no compulsion of choosing a specific major. However, you should ideally take courses that are listed as prerequisites by most medical schools having podiatry programs accredited by the American Association of Podiatric Medical Colleges. These include oral and written communication, physics, chemistry and biology among others.
Since medical school admissions tend to be ultra-competitive, it might do you some good to start preparing for it during your undergraduate studies. Other than starting early on MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) preparation, you should try joining a pre-medical organization, shadowing a licensed podiatrist and doing community service, etc.
- Pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
When you have obtained your Bachelor’s degree, it is time to take the MCAT. Try to do really well on it since your admission to medical school will be largely dependent on the MCAT score.
- Head to Medical School
In medical school, you will study for 4 years to acquire a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree. The first two years will be similar to an MD (Doctor of Medicine) program. The third and fourth years will include courses specific to podiatry specialization. These include podiatric trauma, lower-limb anatomy, lower-extremity biomechanics and podiatric surgery, etc.
After getting your DPM degree, you must enroll in a residency program at a reputed health facility. This is where you will hone your craft by learning from licensed podiatrists and treating patients under their supervision. The normal duration of a residency is 2 to 4 years.
- Get Your License
When you are done with the residency, it is time to apply for your state license. Requirements tend to vary from one place to another. There is usually a compulsory exam among other things. Moreover, continuing education is a requirement for license renewal in the future.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Podiatrist?
To become a Podiatrist, you will need 4 years to obtain an undergraduate degree. After that, there will be 4 years of medical school. Once the education is completed, a residency program will take up 2 to 4 years. All this adds up to a timeframe of 10 to 12 years.
What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Podiatrist in the US?
The following requirements have to be fulfilled to become a podiatrist in America.
- Completion of Bachelor’s education.
- Attainment of a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree.
- Completion of residency training.
- Earning the state license.
How Much Can I Make After Becoming a Podiatrist?
As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, podiatrists had an annual mean wage of $151,110 in 2020.