A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in feet. Podiatrists treat foot problems such as corns, bunions, heel spurs, problems with arches and other foot disorders. It takes a minimum of eight years just for the education requirements, such as a bachelor's degree and podiatric school, to become a podiatrist. It takes longer when you factor in the residency requirement. If someone wants to become certified, he can expect participate in more in-depth training and podiatry experience.
Not all schools of podiatry require a bachelor's degree to get in, but students are required to have at least 90 credit hours at the undergraduate level. Courses in biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physics and English are required. All science courses must be at the pre-medical level and must include a lab. All students must have at least eight credits of each science course at least six credits of English. Most students will already possess a bachelor's degree upon acceptance to a podiatric college.
In order to get into a podiatric college, students must submit application requirements to the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine. Scores from the MCAT, or Medical College Admissions Test, are usually required. Also required are letters of recommendation, transcripts and interviews. Some colleges also accept the GRE, Graduate Record Exam, or the DAT, Dental Admissions Test, in lieu of the MCAT.
Once accepted into a podiatric program, students must attend for four years. The first two years will consist of classroom-taught science courses. The last two years will consist of clinical rotations in anesthesiology, internal medicine, pathology, radiology, emergency medicine and orthopedic and general surgery. These rotations help students put together what they have learned and allows them to sharpen their skills as they learn to perform examinations, take patient histories, make diagnoses and more. Upon graduation students, are awarded the doctor of podiatric medicine, or DPM, degree.
Podiatrists must complete a residency after graduation. Most residencies are two years long. New residents can choose between a 24-month long residency in podiatric medicine and surgery residency or a 36-month long podiatric medicine and surgery residency. The 36-month residency includes training in rear foot and ankle surgery. Residencies allow podiatrists to deepen their knowledge of their field.
Licensure and Certification
All states require licensure to practice as a podiatrist; however, each state has different requirements. Students should check with their state to make sure they are on the right path to licensure. Podiatrists applying for licensure must be graduates of an accredited podiatric program and must have completed the required residency. A written and oral exam will be given. Continuing education is usually required to renew a license.
Podiatrists can also opt to become board certified. Board certification is available in orthopedics, primary medicine, and surgery. Requirements for board certification varies so it is important to check with the board before proceeding.
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