Podiatrist (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) | explorehealthcareers.org (2024)

Average Salary$190,675

Years Higher Education11

Job OutlookExcellent

Podiatrist (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) | explorehealthcareers.org (1)

Podiatric medicine is a branch of the medical sciences devoted to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of foot disorders resulting from injury or disease. A doctor of podiatric medicine is to the foot what a dentist is to the mouth or an ophthalmologist to the eye—a specialist who has undergone lengthy, thorough study to become qualified to treat a specific part of the body.

A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.) makes independent judgments and performs or orders all necessary diagnostic tests. They perform surgery, administer medications and prescribe physical therapy regimens. Podiatric physicians are educated in state-of-the-art techniques involving surgery, orthopedics, dermatology, physical medicine and rehabilitation.

The human foot has a complex interrelation with the rest of the body, which means that it may be the first area to show signs of serious conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Podiatrists often detect serious health problems that may otherwise go unnoticed, because a number of diseases manifest first through symptoms of the lower extremities (i.e., diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, or kidney disease).

Working Conditions | Academic Requirements | Resources

Working Conditions

Podiatrists work in private or group practices. They may focus on a specialty such as pediatrics, geriatrics or sports medicine, for example. In addition to private practice, podiatrists may:

  • Work in hospitals (including in foot clinics associated with a hospital) and long-term care facilities
  • Teach in schools of medicine and nursing
  • Serve in the armed forces as commissioned officers
  • Serve in the U.S. Public Health Service
  • Work in municipal health departments

Because podiatrists in private practice set their own hours, it is a flexible career, making it a good fit for people who want or need a balanced lifestyle. Generally, podiatrists work between 30 and 60 hours a week.

Academic Requirements

If you wish to become a podiatrist, you must first get a bachelor’s degree and then apply to an accredited podiatric medical college. Your graduate school course of study will take four years, after which you will receive a degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.).

The first two years concentrate on classroom instruction and laboratory work in the basic medical sciences. The third and fourth years of study focus on the clinical sciences and patient care. As is the case for all physicians, the coursework includes anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, microbiology, pathology, immunology and other courses related to medicine.

In addition, podiatric medical students learn the fundamentals of specialized medicine, including biomechanics, lower extremity anatomy, podiatric pathology, infectious diseases, orthopedics and sports medicine.

Clinical exposures begin as early as the second year. Students of podiatric medicine gain practical experience by working in podiatric clinics in any of a variety of settings, including community clinics, hospitals, satellite clinics or professional office settings.

After completing podiatric medical school, you move on to residency training. A residency provides podiatrists with the chance to get specialized training through rotations such as anesthesiology, internal medicine, infectious disease, surgery, ER and pediatrics.

Podiatric medical graduates select a 36-month podiatric medicine and surgery residency that includes training in rear foot and ankle surgery.

Preparation Timeline

Our timeline is a helpful guideline as you prepare for entry to a school of podiatric medicine.

Freshman Year

    • Meet with a pre-health advisor to plan coursework and learn more about podiatric medicine.
    • Review information about podiatric medical colleges, including admissions criteria and minimum entrance requirements. While most schools require a minimum of one year of biology, general (inorganic) chemistry, organic chemistry, physics and English, specific requirements vary from school to school.
    • Complete required coursework.
    • Think about which major and/or minors you may wish to pursue.
    • Develop good study skills by forming study groups or attending study-skills programs.
    • Maintain a competitive GPA.
    • Identify extracurricular activities you enjoy or that provide you with an outlet to relieve stress.Make time to participate.
    • Apply to volunteer or work in a medical setting during breaks or summer months.
    • Read articles and research about podiatric medicine.
    • Talk to pre-podiatry students.
    • Get to know a podiatric physician. Inquire about shadowing opportunities during breaks or summer months.

Sophom*ore Year

  • Meet with a pre-health advisor to make sure you are on track.
  • Complete required coursework.
  • Select major and minor courses of study. Work out any schedule conflicts with graduation requirements and application requirements. Plan for summer school attendance if necessary.
  • Maintain competitive GPA.
  • Continue shadowing a variety of podiatric physicians.
  • Research podiatric medical school entrance requirements.
  • Look for and apply to participate in a research study which complements career objectives (with a faculty member or outside campus).
  • Join your school’s pre-podiatry society if one is available. If not, join your school’s pre-health society to learn more about careers in medicine.
  • Attend pre-health activities, service opportunities or meetings.
  • Explore non-health related community service opportunities through your school or other not-for-profit agency. If possible, continue a few select activities throughout your undergraduate career.
  • Look into paid or volunteer research opportunities during the summer months.
  • Begin MCAT preparation and determine a study schedule. Study groups often work well – inquire with the school’s pre-podiatry or pre-health clubs for others interested in studying material together.

Junior Year

  • Meet with a pre-health advisor to finalize a prerequisite course plan or other graduation requirements.
  • Sign up for committee process (committee letter of recommendation) or letter of recommendation service with advisor, faculty or career services at your school.
  • Maintain a competitive GPA.
  • Continue to work or volunteer in a medical setting. Obtain letters of recommendation to document the number of hours you have acquired.
  • Continue shadowinga podiatric physician on a regular basis. Ask for a letter of recommendation to be sent to the schools you have chosen to apply to in August.
  • Study and register for the MCAT.
  • Take the MCAT.
  • Visit colleges of podiatric medicine to which you are interested applying.
  • Attend open houses or other on-campus events. Most colleges of podiatric medicine offer one-on-one admissions counseling to help answer questions you might have about applying.
  • Look for leadership opportunities on campus and off.
  • Discuss podiatric medical schools with others: advisors, parents, upper-class students, current podiatry students and podiatric physicians.
  • Learn about the application process.
  • Research schools and review each school’s required documents early in the spring semester.
  • Identify professors and/or advisors to write letters of recommendation (if no committee evaluation is available); ask politely for letters of recommendation well in advance of the deadlines. It is often helpful to provide those writing your recommendations with instructions for submitting letters. Remember to thank them for their time.
  • Make a list of all podiatric medical schools to which you plan to apply.Remember to keep good records of communication with each school’s office of admission.
  • Schedule a volunteer or paid pre-podiatry activity for the summer.

Junior Year—Summer

  • Apply. Applications open the first Wednesday in August each year to new applicants.
  • Request official transcripts of all college work attempted.
  • Request letters of recommendation to be sent to the colleges you plan to apply to in August.
  • Take the MCAT, if you have not done so already.
  • Prepare for school interviews in the fall. Budget time and finances appropriately to attend interviews. Interviews are not an acceptable reason to miss lectures or labs. Plan accordingly.
  • Participate in a volunteer or paid research opportunity.

Senior Year

  • Take theMCAT, if you have not done so already.
  • Meet with a pre-health advisor to review completed coursework and prerequisites.
  • Attend interviews with schools.
  • Volunteer or work in a medical setting (i.e., clinic, ER, hospital).
  • Continue extracurricular activities and leadership roles on and off campus.
  • Accept an offer and notify other schools of your final decision in a timely manner.
  • Write thank-you notes to references and admission officers.
  • Thank your pre-med advisor for his or her assistance; apprise him or her of your final decision.
  • Apply for federal financial aid and scholarships for which you may be eligible.

Learn More About a Career as a Podiatrist


The American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine reviewed this profile.

Podiatrist (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) | explorehealthcareers.org (2024)


Is a DPM better than an MD? ›

Medical Doctors (MDs) Have a Broader, Less Focused Education

With over 26 bones, 33 joints (20 of which are actively articulated), and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the human foot alone, podiatrists have a much better idea of what might be wrong with their patients with foot and ankle problems.

Why don t podiatrists go to medical school? ›

Podiatrists are doctors, but they don't go to traditional medical school. They have their own schools and professional associations. They also have "DPM" (doctor of podiatric medicine) after their names instead of "MD" (medical doctor).

What is the highest degree required for podiatrist? ›

Podiatrists must have a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from an accredited college of podiatric medicine. A DPM degree program takes 4 years to complete. Colleges of podiatric medicine are accredited by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education, which provides a list online of accredited programs.

What is the most common problem treated by a podiatrist? ›

What Is The Most Common Foot Problem That A Podiatrist Treats? The most common foot problem that a podiatrist treats is heel pain.

Is podiatry school easier than medical school? ›

Below is a list of the average MCAT and GPA for institutions listed above that also have a medical school. As you can see from the table above, the average academic scores for admitted medical students is higher than admitted podiatry students. This is the case for both MD and DO schools.

Is a podiatrist a PhD? ›

After obtaining an undergraduate degree, the podiatric doctor spends four years in a college of podiatric medicine to obtain a doctorate degree. Many podiatrists further their education by participating in a post-graduate residency program at an approved hospital or university.

Why choose podiatry over MD? ›

While still receiving the same common courses as MD/DO students, podiatric medical students receive highly-specialized education and training from day one of podiatric medical school. Podiatry features less "life and death" situations, which alleviates the stress of making a life-or-death mistake.

DO podiatrists have to take the MCAT? ›

Most Podiatric medical schools require the MCAT (Medical Colleges Admission Test). The MCAT is offered from January and March through September. Register for the MCAT. The recommended amount of studying to prepare for the test is 300-350 hours over the course of several months.

What is the lowest GPA for podiatry school? ›

Although it varies depending on the school, a minimum GPA of 2.50-2.75 is typically required to be considered for admission into podiatry school. A separate science GPA is calculated based on Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math (BCPM).

Where do podiatrists get paid the most? ›

Best-Paying Cities for Podiatrists

The metropolitan areas that pay the highest salary in the podiatrist profession are San Diego, Dallas, Portland, Sacramento, and Houston.

What state do podiatrists make the most money? ›

In three states, podiatrists earn on average more than $200,000 a year: Rhode Island, Nebraska and Wisconsin. The top-10 states for podiatrist salaries are geographically quite diverse, featuring states in the Northeast, Midwest and South.

What is the difference between podiatry and podiatrist? ›

Podiatry is the focused branch of medicine that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of foot problems and conditions related to the lower legs. Podiatrists treat everything from bunions to infected toenails, and patients are guaranteed to receive the best answer for their foot problems from a podiatrist.

Do podiatrists give medication? ›

For a valid medical purpose and within the limits of podiatry scope of practice, Podiatrists can write prescriptions to treat any disease, disorder, physical injury, deformity or ailment of the human foot.

Can a podiatrist treat nerve damage? ›

To treat neuropathy in the foot, podiatrists will first diagnose the cause of the neuropathy. Figuring out the underlying cause of the neuropathy will allow the podiatrist to prescribe the best treatment, whether it be caused by diabetes, toxic substance exposure, infection, etc.

What is the highest degree than MD? ›

An M.D. and a Ph. D. are both doctorate degrees that individuals who complete the highest level of graduate school can receive. However, people who have an M.D. have different careers than those with a Ph.

Is MD more prestigious than DO? ›

Reputation. In the United States, an MD degree is typically more well-respected than a DO. That does not mean a physician with either degree is actually better or worse than the other. There are more MDs than DOs, and because of this standardized acceptance of MDs, they often are considered slightly more reputable.

Is there a higher degree than MD? ›

The PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy, is the highest graduate degree awarded by our universities. Health professionals receive undergraduate degrees in medicine. These are professional degrees, and not really doctorates. The MD degree is not a part of graduate faculties at North American universities.

What is the highest degree an MD has? ›

MD, or Doctor of Medicine, is the highest academic degree for surgeons and physicians. It can be a professional doctorate, as in the case of USA and Canada, or a research degree, as in countries following the UK tradition.

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