Study Shows Demand for Doctors of Podiatric Medicine to Surge Over Next Six Years
For young Americans looking for job security in a lagging economy, entering the field of podiatric medicine which currently boasts 15,000 doctors nationwide – may be a step in the right direction. A recent workforce study indicates that the nation’s eight colleges of podiatric medicine would have to triple their graduates between now and 2014 in order to meet growing population demands.
The study, conducted by the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the School of Public Health, University at Albany, attributes an increase in foot problems as a result of growing obesity, diabetes and aging rates to have a direct impact on the profession. In 2002, podiatrists provided close to 40 percent of all foot care services in the United States, compared to 13 percent for orthopedic physicians and 37 percent for all other physicians, including primary care doctors. Podiatrists are medically and surgically trained to diagnose and treat disorders, diseases, and injuries of the foot, ankle and lower extremity. Podiatrists are typically older on average than the overall U.S. labor force. In fact, the professions’ median age of 45 will certainly contribute to future occupational demands in the next 10 to 15 years.
"The field of podiatry is really one of the most specialized in all of medicine. And anyone who has become a podiatrist knows that the payoffs associated with becoming a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) are priceless," said Dr. Christian Robertozzi, APMA president. "But when it all boils down to it, most medical students are concerned about what their salaries will be once they enter the workforce. Because the supply is less than the demand for podiatrists at the moment, the median income for our profession is at an all-time high."
Adding to the profession’s attractiveness, podiatric medicine touts desirable salaries and a flexible lifestyle. The study’s 2001 data revealed the median income of a DPM to be nearly $134,000, comparable to other medical professions’ salaries such as dentistry, pediatrics and surgery. The most recent podiatric practice survey in 2006 revealed a median salary of $150,000 and in 2007, podiatric medicine placed 15th on Forbes survey of "America’s 25 Best Paying Jobs." In addition, podiatry’s working conditions in comparison to other medical specialties offer more options in practice structure. This gives both those seeking an engaging, always-on-call atmosphere in a hospital emergency room and those looking for a more laid-back, family-friendly schedule the opportunity to each thrive in their respective workplaces.
The Podiatry Workforce Study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (JAPMA). To review a summary of the study, visit the surveys page at www.apma.org.
Copyright 2008, American Podiatric Medical Association, Inc.