In the U.S. and Canada podiatrists must earn the four-year Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree and complete medical and surgical residency. This involves pre-professional college or a three- or four-year bachelor degree, with courses in biology, chemistry, physics, English, and math. An MCAT exam is usually required for admission to the DPM program. The first part of the DPM degree includes instruction and laboratory work in the sciences: anatomy, pathology, microbiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, and physiology. The second part is primarily clinical practice and practical experience, including surgery. In total the educational component takes anywhere from eight to eleven years to complete. There are nine colleges in the U.S. and one in Canada offering the DPM.
State licensing is also required, and in many parts of Canada the profession is governed by legislation. Licenses must be renewed periodically and continuing education is a requirement.
Some important characteristics needed to be a foot doctor:
interest in working with people and good interpersonal skills
aptitude for science
critical thinking skills
academic ability and ambition
comfort with instruments and precision equipment
Podiatrists are expected to stay current with advances in podiatric medicine, reading medical journals and attending conferences. Some podiatrists earn a specialty designation and may become recognized experts in a particular area of foot treatments or ailments.