Occupation Profile for Podiatrists

Diagnose and treat diseases and deformities of the human foot.

 
 

Significant Points

  • Podiatrists must be licensed, requiring 3 to 4 years of undergraduate education, the completion of a 4-year podiatric college program, and passing scores on national and State examinations.
  • While the occupation is small, job opportunities should be good for entry-level graduates of accredited podiatric medicine programs.
  • Opportunities for newly trained podiatrists will be better in group medical practices, clinics, and health networks than in traditional, solo practices.
  • Podiatrists enjoy very high earnings.

 

 
 
Overview
$108,220.00 Median Annual Wage 1,000 Average Job Openings Per Year
0.3 Average Unemployment Percentage 0.0 Percentage That Completed High School
12,000 Employment Numbers in 2006 0.0 Percentage That Had Some College
13,000 Employment Numbers in 2016 (est.) 99.2 Percentage That Went Beyond College Degree

Sample Job Titles
Chiropodist
Doctor
Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM)
Doctor of Podiatry
Foot and Ankle Surgeon
Foot Doctor
Foot Orthopedist
Foot Roentgenologist
Foot Specialist
Orthopedic Podiatrist
Physician
Podiatric Medicine Doctor (DPM)
Podiatric Physician
Podiatric Surgeon
Podiatrist
Podiatry Doctor (DP)
Pododermatologist
Practitioner

Training
  • These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include librarians, lawyers, aerospace engineers, physicists, school psychologists, and surgeons.
  • A bachelor's degree is the minimum formal education required for these occupations. However, many also require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
  • Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.
  • Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Podiatrists must be licensed, requiring 3 to 4 years of undergraduate education, the completion of a 4-year podiatric college program, and passing scores on national and State examinations.

Education and training. Prerequisites for admission to a college of podiatric medicine include the completion of at least 90 semester hours of undergraduate study, an acceptable grade point average, and suitable scores on the Medical College Admission Test. (Some colleges also may accept the Dental Admission Test or the Graduate Record Exam.)

Admission to podiatric colleges usually requires at least 8 semester hours each of biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics and at least 6 hours of English. The science courses should be those designed for premedical students. Extracurricular and community activities, personal interviews, and letters of recommendation are also important. About 95 percent of podiatric students have at least a bachelor’s degree.

In 2007, there were seven colleges of podiatric medicine fully accredited by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education. Colleges of podiatric medicine offer a 4-year program whose core curriculum is similar to that in other schools of medicine. During the first 2 years, students receive classroom instruction in basic sciences, including anatomy, chemistry, pathology, and pharmacology. Third-year and fourth-year students have clinical rotations in private practices, hospitals, and clinics. During these rotations, they learn how to take general and podiatric histories, perform routine physical examinations, interpret tests and findings, make diagnoses, and perform therapeutic procedures. Graduates receive the degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM).

Most graduates complete a hospital-based residency program after receiving a DPM. Residency programs last from 2 to 4 years. Residents receive advanced training in podiatric medicine and surgery and serve clinical rotations in anesthesiology, internal medicine, pathology, radiology, emergency medicine, and orthopedic and general surgery. Residencies lasting more than 1 year provide more extensive training in specialty areas.

Licensure. All States and the District of Columbia require a license for the practice of podiatric medicine. Each State defines its own licensing requirements, although many States grant reciprocity to podiatrists who are licensed in another State. Applicants for licensure must be graduates of an accredited college of podiatric medicine and must pass written and oral examinations. Some States permit applicants to substitute the examination of the National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners, given in the second and fourth years of podiatric medical college, for part or all of the written State examination. In general, States require a minimum of 2 years of postgraduate residency training in an approved health care institution. For licensure renewal, most States require continuing education.

Other qualifications. People planning a career in podiatry should have scientific aptitude, manual dexterity, interpersonal skills, and a friendly bedside manner. In private practice, podiatrists also should have good business sense.

Certification and advancement. There are a number of certifying boards for the podiatric specialties of orthopedics, primary medicine, and surgery. Certification has requirements beyond licensure. Each board requires advanced training, the completion of written and oral examinations, and experience as a practicing podiatrist. Most managed-care organizations prefer board-certified podiatrists.

Podiatrists may advance to become professors at colleges of podiatric medicine, department chiefs in hospitals, or general health administrators.

Nature of Work

Americans spend a great deal of time on their feet. As the Nation becomes more active across all age groups, the need for foot care will become increasingly important.

The human foot is a complex structure. It contains 26 bones—plus muscles, nerves, ligaments, and blood vessels—and is designed for balance and mobility. The 52 bones in the feet make up about one-fourth of all the bones in the human body. Podiatrists, also known as doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs), diagnose and treat disorders, diseases, and injuries of the foot and lower leg.

Podiatrists treat corns, calluses, ingrown toenails, bunions, heel spurs, and arch problems; ankle and foot injuries, deformities, and infections; and foot complaints associated with diabetes and other diseases. To treat these problems, podiatrists prescribe drugs and physical therapy, set fractures, and perform surgery. They also fit corrective shoe inserts called orthotics, design plaster casts and strappings to correct deformities, and design custom-made shoes. Podiatrists may use a force plate or scanner to help design the orthotics: patients walk across a plate connected to a computer that reads their feet, picking up pressure points and weight distribution. From the computer readout, podiatrists order the correct design or recommend another kind of treatment.

To diagnose a foot problem, podiatrists also order x rays and laboratory tests. The foot may be the first area to show signs of serious conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. For example, patients with diabetes are prone to foot ulcers and infections because of poor circulation. Podiatrists consult with and refer patients to other health practitioners when they detect symptoms of these disorders.

Most podiatrists have a solo practice, although more are forming group practices with other podiatrists or health practitioners. Some specialize in surgery, orthopedics, primary care, or public health. Besides these board-certified specialties, podiatrists may practice other specialties, such as sports medicine, pediatrics, dermatology, radiology, geriatrics, or diabetic foot care.

Podiatrists who are in private practice are responsible for running a small business. They may hire employees, order supplies, and keep records, among other tasks. In addition, some educate the community on the benefits of foot care through speaking engagements and advertising.

Work environment. Podiatrists usually work in small private offices or clinics, sometimes supported by a small staff of assistants and other administrative personnel. They also may spend time visiting patients in nursing homes or performing surgery at hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers. Podiatrists with private practices set their own hours but may work evenings and weekends to accommodate their patients. Podiatrists usually treat fewer emergencies than other doctors.

Related Occupations

Sources: Career Guide to Industries (CGI), Occupational Information Network (O*Net), Occupation Outlook Handbook (OOH)
Earnings

Podiatrists enjoy very high earnings. Median annual earnings of salaried podiatrists were $108,220 in 2006. Additionally, a survey by Podiatry Management Magazine reported median net income of $114,000 in 2006. Podiatrists in partnerships tended to earn higher net incomes than those in solo practice. A salaried podiatrist typically receives heath insurance and retirement benefits from their employer, whereas self-employed chiropractors must provide for their own health insurance and retirement. Also, solo practitioners must absorb the costs of running their own offices.

For the latest wage information:

The above wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, unless otherwise noted. For the latest National, State, and local earnings data, visit the following pages:

  • Podiatrists
  • Job Outlook

    Employment is expected to increase about as fast as average because of increasing consumer demand for podiatric medicine services. Job prospects should be good.

    Employment change. Employment of podiatrists is expected to increase 9 percent from 2006 to 2016, about as fast as the average for all occupations. More people will turn to podiatrists for foot care because of the rising number of injuries sustained by a more active and increasingly older population.

    Medicare and most private health insurance programs cover acute medical and surgical foot services, as well as diagnostic x rays and leg braces. Details of such coverage vary among plans. However, routine foot care, including the removal of corns and calluses, is not usually covered unless the patient has a systemic condition that has resulted in severe circulatory problems or areas of desensitization in the legs or feet. Like dental services, podiatric care is often discretionary and, therefore, more dependent on disposable income than some other medical services.

    Employment of podiatrists would grow even faster were it not for continued emphasis on controlling the costs of specialty health care. Insurers will balance the cost of sending patients to podiatrists against the cost and availability of substitute practitioners, such as physicians and physical therapists.

    Job prospects. Although the occupation is small and most podiatrists continue to practice until retirement, job opportunities should be good for entry-level graduates of accredited podiatric medicine programs. Job growth and replacement needs should create enough job openings for the supply of new podiatric medicine graduates. Opportunities will be better for board-certified podiatrists because many managed-care organizations require board certification. Newly trained podiatrists will find more opportunities in group medical practices, clinics, and health networks than in traditional solo practices. Establishing a practice will be most difficult in the areas surrounding colleges of podiatric medicine, where podiatrists concentrate.

    Employment

    Podiatrists held about 12,000 jobs in 2006. About 24 percent of podiatrists were self-employed. Most podiatrists were solo practitioners, although more are entering group practices with other podiatrists or other health practitioners. Solo practitioners primarily were unincorporated self-employed workers, although some also were incorporated wage and salary workers in offices of other health practitioners. Other podiatrists were employed by hospitals, long-term care facilities, the Federal Government, and municipal health departments.

    Knowledge
    • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
    • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
    • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
    • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
    • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
    Skills
    • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
    • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
    • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
    • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
    • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
    Abilities
    • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
    • Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
    • Explosive Strength — The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
    • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
    • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
    Tasks
    • Core — Correct deformities by means of plaster casts and strapping.
    • Core — Make and fit prosthetic appliances.
    • Core — Perform administrative duties such as hiring employees, ordering supplies, and keeping records.
    • Core — Educate the public about the benefits of foot care through techniques such as speaking engagements, advertising, and other forums.
    • Core — Treat deformities using mechanical methods, such as whirlpool or paraffin baths, and electrical methods, such as short wave and low voltage currents.
    Activities
    • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
    • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
    • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
    • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
    • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
    Related College Curriculum
     
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    41 Podiatrist Jobs Found


    Podiatrists for UHC provide podiatric health care topatients that includes preventative care and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Podiatrists...
    United Health Centers - CA - Parlier - posted 17 days ago
    The Medical Assistant works with a Podiatrist who provide services in the long-term care setting. This position requires extensive travel in, and a...
    Community Health Solutions of America, Inc - FL - Lakeland - posted 8 days ago
    WE ARE GROWING! The Medical Assistant works with a Podiatrist who provide services in the long-term care setting. This position requires extensive ...
    - FL - Saint Petersburg - posted 9 days ago
    WE ARE GROWING! The Medical Assistant works with a Podiatrist who provide services in the long-term care setting. This position requires extensive ...
    Community Health Solutions of America, Inc - FL - Clearwater - posted 21 days ago
    The Part Time Medical Assistant works with a Podiatrist who provide services in the long-term care setting. This position requires extensive travel...
    KG Health Partners, Inc. - FL - Vero Beach - posted 24 days ago
    The Part Time Medical Assistant works with a Podiatrist who provide services in the long-term care setting. This position requires extensive travel...
    KG Health Partners, Inc. - FL - Vero Beach - posted 24 days ago
    Overview: Covenant Care was founded in 1994 by healthcare industry professionals who wanted to create a company that would exceed customer expectat...
    Wagner Heights Nursing & Rehabilitation Center - CA - Stockton - posted 23 days ago
    DJO Global, Inc. is a leading global provider of high-quality, orthopedic devices, with a broad range of products used for rehabilitation, pain man...
    DJO Global - New Brighton - posted about 16 hours ago
    DJO Global is a leading global developer, manufacturer and distributor of high-quality medical devices and services that provide solutions for musc...
    DJO Global - Birmingham - posted 4 days ago
    DJO Global, Inc. is a leading global provider of high-quality, orthopedic devices, with a broad range of products used for rehabilitation, pain man...
    DJO Global - Vista - posted 5 days ago

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