In the U.S. and Canada, podiatrists must earn a four-year Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree and complete medical and surgical residency. This also involves getting a three- or four-year bachelor's degree first, with courses in biology, chemistry, physics, english, and math.
An MCAT exam is required for admission to the DPM program. The first part of the DPM program 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.
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.
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Podiatrists are narrowly focused healthcare practitioners who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of the foot, ankle and their related tissues and structures. The feet are unusually complicated structures, containing approximately half of the body's bones and a large number of small muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels.
A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine is considered a medical doctor of the foot and ankle and receives an education very similar to that of a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.).