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How to Become a Podiatrist

First professional degree

Podiatrists address patients' concerns regarding their ankles, feet and lower legs. In order to be certified, they must earn and DPM or Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree and finish a 3 year residency. Licensure is required.

Education & Training

Having a DPM degree is necessary from an accredited college of podiatric medicine. These degrees take approximately 4 years to finish.

Admission to Podiatric medicine programs needs a minimum of 3 years of undergraduate education including classes in the following: physics, chemistry, biology, laboratory sciences and general English classes. Almost all podiatrists earn a bachelor's degree prior to entering a college of podiatry. Many DPM programs require that students successfully complete the MCAT or Medical College Admission Test prior to admission.

Individuals seeking a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree take many classes required for other medical degrees. Courses include: pathology, pharmacology, physiology and anatomy. Podiatric medical students complete a variety of clinical rotations to gain supervised experience.

Podiatrists must apply to and finish a PMSR or podiatric medical and surgical residency program once they earn their DPM. This residency is 3 years long and may take place in hospitals or residency programs. They provide students the chance to gain surgical and medical experience. Specific fellowship areas may provide additional training.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Podiatrists require licensure. They must pass the APMLE or American Podiatric Medical Licensing Exam and pay a fee. Certain locations require local examinations to be completed. Continuing education classes in a variety of medical topics are required and licenses must be periodically renewed.

Numerous podiatrists decide to obtain board certification. The certifying agency in podiatric surgery is the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. Individuals providing primary care podiatry and those specializing in orthopedics obtain certification through the American Board of Podiatric Medicine. Work experience along with passing exams is required for certification.

Skills and Qualities that will Help

Compassion: Commonly, podiatrists are treating individuals who are in pain. They must be empathetic towards their patients.

Critical-thinking skills: Podiatrists need to use their analytical skills in order to diagnose patients correctly and figure out the best way to proceed with treatment.

Detail oriented: In order to provide effective, safe healthcare options, a podiatrist must be detail oriented. They must take the patient's medical history into account along with current conditions when deciding on an appropriate course of treatment after diagnosis.

Interpersonal skills: Since podiatrists spend a large amount of their day interacting with patients, effective communication is essential. They should be able to tell a patient who is undergoing surgery what to expect in order to avoid fearful reactions.