A doctor of podiatric medicine degree is different from a typical medical degree. It is more specifically similar to a dentistry school or optometry degree. The educational criteria for a certified podiatrist follow the specifications of a pre-medical bachelor’s degree, followed by medical school, a certified license, residency program, fellowship, and mandatory board certification to be recognized as a qualified podiatrist.
To become a podiatrist physician, one needs to obtain a bachelor’s degree in science that includes courses in the subjects of chemistry, physics, and biology, which will make them eligible for enrolment for a podiatric degree.
The doctor of podiatric medicine program is a four-year course after which the person receives the doctor of podiatric medicine degree (DPM).
The first and the second year of the degree includes classroom work and practical assignments related to primary and medical sciences. The third and the final years focus on clinical working and patient care.
The podiatric medicine course includes specialized medicine, lower body anatomy, biomechanics, podiatric pathology, orthopedics, infections, sports medicine, and injuries. In addition, the students also study fundamental medical aspects like anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and microbiology.
After completing the podiatric school, the students move on to residency training to specialize in the field for three years. The students work as interns with doctors, pediatricians, anesthesiologists, and specialists in infectious diseases. After the residency period, the students are awarded a specialized qualification in foot or ankle surgery.
Students and practitioners of podiatric medicine work in various institutions like hospitals, clinics, schools, sports teams, and professional office settings.
Subspecialties of podiatrists
Doctor of podiatric medicine degree is an umbrella term for the various subspecialties and specificities listed under it. During the residency or training period, the podiatrists work in clinical settings and specialize in one or the other of the following fields:
Dermatological podiatry: It concerns skin afflictions of the foot.
Diagnostic podoradiology: It is a branch of radiology that involves foot and ankle radiology to diagnose fractures and osteoarthritis.
Forensic podiatry: Forensic podiatry involves studying the foot- and shoe prints for crime scene investigations and law.
Podiatric oncology: It concerns skin cancers of the foot, ankle, or lower leg.
Podiatric orthopedics: It involves footwear orthotics and prosthetics to treat foot abnormalities.
Podiatric rheumatology: It involves therapy of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases concerning the foot.
Gerontological podiatrist: It treats geriatric foot conditions.
Podopediatrics or pediatric podiatry: It treats foot conditions in children.
Reconstructive foot and ankle surgery: Reconstructive F and A surgery, also known as consultant podiatric surgery, involves reconstruction after a fatal injury.
Podiatric sports medicine: It consists in treating sports-related injuries.
Podiatric vascular specialist: It treats circulation disorders in the foot and ankle region.
Neuro podiatry: It treats nerve disorders in the foot.
Conditions treated by podiatrists
Podiatrists treat a wide range of foot conditions that can result from an underlying disease or injury. A podiatrist can diagnose all age-related disorders and provide treatment for the same.
Sports injuries: Here, podiatrists treat fractures, sprains, dislocated feet, contusions, and twisted ankles since these are common injuries, especially in athletes or sports players. Hence, podiatrists also work in sports settings and treat athletes’ foot problems while suggesting ways to treat them.
Skin and nail disorders: It is a painful condition in which the sides of the nails grow into the toe instead of growing outwards. This condition usually happens due to an ingrown nail or infection. “Athletes’ feet” is another condition treated by them.
Foot deformities: Deformities like flat feet, high arched feet, and hammertoes are treated by podiatrists.
Diabetes: Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body does not synthesize enough insulin to lower blood sugar levels. Diabetes can damage the nerves of the foot, causing swelling and intense pain. It may also reduce blood circulation in the foot region. A podiatrist can help prevent the condition; hence, people with diabetes should get their feet checked for any soreness or pain.
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