Career Profile: Podiatrist

May 18, 2016


There are a lot of different careers in the medical field. The best way to figure out which is best for you is to learn as much as possible about your options. One career that you may not be too familiar with is podiatry.


Podiatrists diagnose and treat people with different types of foot and ankle conditions. For example, they may work with people with injuries to their feet, deformities and common conditions such as arch problems, bone spurs, and bunions. They also treat people who have wounds on the feet or ankles due to conditions such as diabetes.

The responsibilities of a podiatrist include gathering information to make a diagnosis. Information may include obtaining the patient’s medical history, performing an exam and ordering and reviewing diagnostic tests, such as x-rays. After making a diagnosis, podiatrists develop a treatment plan. Treatment may include prescribing shoe inserts, medication, braces, physical therapy and performing surgery.

How to become a podiatrist

Although they do not go to medical school, a podiatrist must attend a podiatry program accredited by the Council on Podiatric Medicine. After completing the program and becoming licensed, students are awarded a doctor of podiatric medicine degree.

Most podiatry schools require students to have completed at least three years of undergraduate studies. There are also specific science classes that are usually required for admission to a podiatry program. Since students are so close to earning a four-year degree, most applicants complete their bachelor’s degree before going to podiatry school. Most schools also require applicants to take the MCAT before admission.

Podiatry programs are four years long. Similar to medical school, most programs involve two years of didactics and two years or clinical rotations. Curriculums may vary, but most programs include classes in anatomy, pathology, pharmacology and physiology.

Clinical rotations are not the same as in med school. For example, students may spend a few months in a general medicine rotation, but a lot of their clinical time is spent completing rotations involving podiatry. For example, students may rotate through various settings and work with different patient populations. Typical rotations may include radiology, surgery, trauma, and pediatrics all related to podiatry. Students may attend rotations in hospitals, sport medicine centers and foot and wound clinics.

After graduating from a podiatry program, podiatrists must take a licensing exam. All fifty states in the U.S. require podiatrist to be licensed. A large percentage of graduating podiatrists choose to complete a three-year surgical residency.

Opportunities & salary

Podiatrists work in hospitals and clinics, and many also work in a group or private practice. Some podiatrists have a general practice and treat all types of patients while other specialize in an area, such as sports medicine, pediatrics or wound care.

The salaries for podiatrists vary by location, experience and the size of their practice. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for podiatrists in 2012 was just over $116,000 a year.

One positive aspect of the profession is it is expected to grow faster than other occupations in the next ten years. The aging population, along with an increase in conditions, such as diabetes, has created a demand for podiatrists.

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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists and physician assistants – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.