Following successful completion of a four-year undergraduate education focused on the premedical sciences, students in one of the eight podiatric medical schools devote the first two years to classroom instruction in basic sciences, including anatomy, chemistry, pathology, and pharmacology followed by two years of clinical education based in accredited hospitals, clinics, and private practice settings. During these third- and fourth-year rotations, students learn how to take general and podiatric examinations, interpret tests and findings, make diagnoses, and perform therapeutic procedures.
The significant difference between the educational training models of medical doctors and podiatrists is that podiatric medical education begins to focus on the specialty area much earlier. During the podiatric medical education process the curriculum integrates basic science education with clinical education specific to the lower extremity anatomy. Specialized training for medical doctors does not occur in any significant way until one begins residency training. With an earlier commitment to the specialty, graduates of podiatric medicine are well-prepared for the even more intensely focused clinical training provided in the podiatric medicine and surgical residency program that follows.
For detailed information about the curriculum, you are invited to visit the Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science at www.rosalindfranklin.edu
Subsequent to graduating from one of the eight, four-year, accredited podiatric medical schools, podiatric medical doctors enroll in one of 211 health care institutions that are approved sponsors of podiatric medical residency programs. The residency program provides training resources that facilitate the resident’s sequential and progressive achievement of demonstrated competency in medical and surgical management.
During two- or three-year residency programs, podiatrists receive advanced training in podiatric medicine and surgery and serve clinical rotations in anesthesiology, internal medicine, pathology, radiology, emergency medicine, and orthopedic and general surgery with a major emphasis placed on patient diagnosis and management in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
Unlike other orthopedic residency training that does not universally require a commitment to foot and ankle medical and surgical management, podiatric residency programs approved by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education - the accrediting body for podiatric medical education as recognized by the U.S. Department of Education -- and the Joint Residency Review Committee must meet the minimum requirement for training that includes hundreds of patient diagnoses, podiatric procedures, and disease management. However, the average resident completing three years of training has a substantial involvement (more than observation) in more than 1000 lower extremity surgical procedures performed on more than 600 patients.
A state board examination is taken to attain a license to practice podiatry. All boards necessitate advanced training, both a written and oral exam and experience. In order for a podiatrist to renew his/her license, it is required that they continue their education by attending education programs and seminars. Many managed care organizations require board certification. There are also two specialty boards, the American Board of Podiatric Orthopedics and Primary Podiatric Medicine, in Chicago and the American Board of Podiatric Surgery, in San Francisco, that certify podiatrists in these areas:
- Podiatric Orthopedics
- Podiatric Surgery
- Primary Podiatric Medicine.
The Work of Doctors of Podiatric Medicine
With the requisite education and training, like other physicians, podiatrists can:
- Perform complete medical history and physical examinations
- Prescribe drugs
- Perform surgery
- Set fractures and treat sports-related injuries
- Prescribe and fit orthotics, insoles, and custom-made shoes
- Order and perform physical therapy
- Take and interpret X-rays and other imaging studies.