Podiatrists are independent healthcare providers, focusing on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions of the lower extremity, primarily the foot and ankle. Podiatrists are licensed to perform a complete array of medical and surgical services: perform lower extremity surgery, prescribe drugs, treat fractures, prescribe and fit orthotics and special shoes, order and perform physical therapy, and order and interpret imaging studies (x-ray, CT scan, MRI, etc) and laboratory tests. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, 75% of all Americans experience foot or ankle problems, from birth through old age. In addition, many systemic diseases such as hypertension, heart problems and diabetes often involve the lower extremities in the early stages; podiatrists can detect these changes and refer the patient for further medical evaluation.
Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) are licensed in all 50 states. A career in podiatry typically offers regular working hours, minimal emergency duty, and geographic mobility. There is a growing demand for DPMs, due in part to the aging of the U.S. population and increasingly active lifestyles.
Most DPMs are in primary care practice, but there are opportunities to specialize in sports medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, surgery, wound care, orthopedics, and biomechanics. It is also possible to pursue board-certification in podiatric surgery or primary podiatric medicine and orthopedics.
Most podiatry schools require at least 3 years of college work (90 semester hours) to be eligible to apply to the DPM program. However, the large majority (95%) of entering students have completed a bachelor’s degree. Following the undergraduate years, accepted students must complete 4 years of study at an accredited college of podiatry. After the 4-year DPM program, a 2 or 3-year residency program is required before a license to practice can be obtained.
There are 9 accredited schools of podiatry in the U.S. There are no schools of podiatry in North Carolina. For a complete list of U.S. podiatry schools, links, and other related information go to AACPM.
- Arizona School of Podiatric Medicine at Midwestern University (Arizona)
- Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine (Florida)
- California School of Podiatric Medicine at Samuel Merritt University (California)
- College of Podiatric Medicine & Surgery at Des Moines University (Iowa)
- New York College of Podiatric Medicine (New York)
- Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine (Ohio)
- William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University (Illinois)
- Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine (Pennsylvania)
- Western University of Health Sciences, College of Podiatric Medicine (California)