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How do I Become a Podiatrist?

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  • Written By: Ron Marr
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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Most people don’t give much thought to the foot until they suffer a foot injury. They don’t realize it contains one-fourth of all the bones in the human body and 33 different joints. It’s an extremely complicated apparatus, and only a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) is fully qualified to facilitate repairs. The podiatrist is a well-respected member of the medical community, and obtaining a DPM degree is a lengthy process.

The usual route to becoming a podiatrist begins with obtaining an undergraduate degree and maintaining a high grade point average. A student must have at least 90 semester hours of college credit. The minimum standards require at least eight hours of class and lab work in the separate courses of biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physics, and English

After that, one will take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and apply for admission with the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine Application Service (AACPMAS). The AACPMAS handles admissions for the eight colleges of podiatric medicine located in the United States, and serves as a liaison with 200 teaching hospitals. The prospective podiatrist will receive individual applications from each college, and begin the process of submitting transcripts, undergoing personal interviews and reviews, seeking financial aid if needed, and touring the various campuses and facilities.

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If accepted to one of these colleges, one will spend at least four years in a podiatric medical school, taking basic courses in such areas as anatomy, pathology, and pharmacology. As the student’s schooling progresses, they will attend classes in surgery, sports medicine, orthopedics, biomechanics, radiography, and many other related fields. Numerous labs, seminars, and practical rotations are also required. These can include such areas and specialties as general health, geriatrics, and diabetes care.

Upon graduating from podiatric school, one will have earned the degree of DPM. However, the training and testing is only partially completed. At this point, the DPM will be required to pass national and state examinations, and spend several years of post-graduate residency at an approved hospital or university-affiliated health institution. Generally speaking, one will spend a minimum of ten years in the pursuit of their DPM, culminating with certification by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery.

Finally, the long years of training will begin to pay off, and the podiatrist will be allowed to hang out his shingle. Many podiatrists go into private practice, or join a multi-physician practice. However, there are numerous options, as a board certified podiatrist is often in high demand by hospitals, health management organizations (HMOs) and other managed care facilities.

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