Podiatrist Career Information
A podiatrist specializes in treating problems that affect the feet, such as arch problems, bunions, callouses, corns, heel spurs, and ingrown toenails.
The work of a podiatrist may also involve ordering laboratory tests and X-rays. They may use massage or physical therapy to treat some conditions. Podiatrists can prescribe medications or suggest that their patients exercise to help relieve symptoms of foot problems. Some foot problems may indicate more serious medical condition, such as heart trouble or diabetes, and in those cases, the podiatrist will refer the patient to a medical doctor for consultation. Most podiatrists work in private practice, but some of them find work in hospitals or medical clinics.
If you are interested in this type of health care job, you will need to have good communication skills as well as good manual dexterity. A usual work week will be about 40 hours, including some evening and weekend work to accommodate patients' schedules.
After completing a minimum of three years of undergraduate work, you would apply to podiatry school. The program lasts for four years, and graduates receive a doctor of podiatric medicine degree (DPM). The first two years of the course involve classroom learning, and the final two are spent in a clinical setting, such as a hospital. A residency of two-four years completes the educational process. Depending on the state where you intend to practice, you would either need to write state exams to be licensed or complete a one-year residency and then write the exams.
Podiatrist Salary Information
New podiatrists may set up their own practice on graduation or buy an existing one. Another option is to assist an established podiatrist with his or her practice to gain experience.
Employment Trends for Podiatrists
The employment prospects for podiatrists are good. As the population ages, there will be a growing demand for healthcare professionals to treat foot problems. Some podiatrists specialize in treating sports-related injuries, and this is also a growing area of specialization.