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Podiatry Career

Career Description

A Podiatrist diagnoses and treats diseases and deformities of the human foot.

Common Work Tasks

  • 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
  • Prescribe drugs and physical therapy, set fractures, and perform surgery
  • Fit corrective shoe inserts called orthotics,  design plaster casts and strappings to correct deformities, and design custom-made shoes
  • Use a force plate or scanner to help design the orthotics
  • Order the correct design or recommend another kind of treatment
  • Order x rays and laboratory tests
  • Refer patients to physicians when symptoms indicative of systemic disorders, such as arthritis or diabetes, are observed in feet and legs
  • Hire employees, order supplies, and keep records, among other tasks
  • Educate the community on the benefits of foot care through speaking engagements and advertising
  • Treat deformities using mechanical methods, such as whirlpool or paraffin baths, and electrical methods, such as short wave and low voltage currents

Other Job Titles

Podiatrists are also known by other titles, including:

  • Doctors of Podiatric Medicine
  • DPMs
  • Dermatologists
  • Orthotists

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
 
Podiatrist must complete a 4-year podiatric college program. 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.

Certification and 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.

Experience
  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.

Salary

The median annual salary for a Podiatrist is $78,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $106,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $47,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of podiatrists are:

  • Offices of Physicians - $77,620
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals- $79,850
  • Outpatient Care Centers - $81,300
  • Federal Executive Branch - $75,650
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools - $66,230

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  9%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 1,100
  • Employment 2006 : 12,000
  • Employment 2016:  13,000
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