How to Become a Podiatrist
1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)
It is wise to pick a pre-med program for your undergrad so you get the necessary pre-requisites for podiatrist school. You could also pick a major heavily focused in science.
It's important you get a strong background in chemistry, biology, physics, and anatomy, as you are studying to become a Doctor and need a solid foundation in these courses.
You can expect coursework similar to the following:
|Grade Level||Example Courses|
2. Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills.
The MCAT is divided into four sections:
|Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems||
|Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems||
|Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior||
|Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills||
You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the MCAT website. If you are unsatisfied with your score on any of the aforementioned exams, you are free to retake them. Depending on the school, some will average your scores and others will simply take your most recent.
3. Earn a Podiatric Medicine Degree (4 Years)
You must attend a 4-year podiatric medical school after your bachelor's degree. After your four years of study at an accredited podiatric medical college or university, a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.) degree can be awarded.
The curriculum leading to the D.P.M. degree is very similar at all institutions, regardless of size and location. Classroom instruction and laboratory work in the basic medical sciences is the focus during the first two years.
Clinical sciences and patient care are the main focus of study in the third and fourth years. Coursework for all physicians, including podiatrists, generally includes the following subject areas:
- Anatomy and Physiology
To specialize in podiatry, medical students learn the fundamentals unique to this specialized area of medicine.
These studies can include:
- Infectious diseases
- Anatomy of the lower extremities
- Podiatric Pathology
- Sports Medicine
Clinical experiences can begin as early as the second year of study. Podiatric medical students are given practical working experience in podiatry clinics across a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, satellite clinics, community clinics and professional office settings.
4. Complete a Residency Program (2 - 3 Years)
Once the required four years of Podiatrist Medical Training is completed, graduates must select a podiatric medicine and surgical residency program that will last 24 to 36 months. Podiatrists are required to complete a minimum of one year of post graduate residency training in most states.
This must be done in an approved health care institution. If board certification is desired, two years of residency training is required.A 36-month residency incorporates robust training in rear foot and ankle surgery.
A residency in podiatry provides the physician with an interdisciplinary experience with rotations through the following disciplines:
- Infectious disease
- Internal medicine
- Emergency medicine
An online application service, known as CASPR, is available through the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM) to help you find residency programs. All entry-level residency programs participate in this application service.
5. Earn the Required License
You must get your License from your state before you can practice legally. Once you get your DPM Degree, you can take the oral and written exam necessary for your license.
Passing the National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners (NBPME) exam can qualify you for licensing in some states.
6. Maintain Certification Through Continuing Education
You must continue your education because technology is ever advancing and procedures and practices change with it.
Most states will require you to complete a certain number of continuing education hours to maintain certification. There are on-site or online courses that cover a variety of topics. It's best to learn what your State requires.