Podiatrist Job Profile

If you are interested in a medical career specializing in treating feet, check out the following job profile for a podiatrist.

Overview

Some of the ailments podiatrists treat include foot deformities, skin diseases, tumors, ulcers and fractures. They also treat conditions like ingrown toenails, bunions, corns, cysts and calluses. Podiatrists can prescribe medicine, order X-rays, administer local anesthetics, recommend prostheses or corrective footwear and perform certain types of surgery (not including amputations).

Education

Podiatrists need to graduate from one of the eight podiatry colleges accredited by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education. In general, podiatry programs take four years to complete, and successful students who pass their state board examinations will earn their DPM (doctor of podiatric medicine) degree. To be admitted to a podiatry school, you will need a minimum of three years of college and preferably a bachelor's degree. You'll have to take premed courses in biology, chemistry and physics. You'll also need to pass the Medical College Admissions Test.

Since each state has its own licensing requirements for podiatrists, you should check with the state where you want to work to see how much education and residency training you will need. You should also consider becoming certified, a process that will require experience as a podiatrist, advanced training and the ability to pass both written and oral examinations.

Getting Started

Once you have your DPM, you will want to consider completing a two- to four-year residency program in a hospital before branching out on your own. Most podiatrists have private practices. To start out, you can either set one up or buy an established one. You might also choose to work in a hospital, private clinic, university or government agency. To gain experience, you can work as an associate in an already established practice or take a salaried position. If you are interested in exploring what job options are available at hospitals throughout the country, visit www.hospitaljobsonline.com for job leads and other helpful information.

Salary/Job Outlook

The median salary for podiatrists in 2010 is right around $95,000 a year. When you are just starting out, you will probably make a little less, but as you gain experience, you can expect to make a six-figure income. You can also earn more if you specialize in a field like pediatrics, geriatrics, orthopedics, dermatology or sports medicine.

Since many Americans spend a lot of time standing on their feet and as people are encourage to become more active, they will need to take care of their feet. Also, as individuals get older and experience health issues like diabetes, they will need the help of podiatrists, so the job outlook for this particular profession is very good, especially for podiatrists who are board-certified. Employment for podiatrists is projected to increase nine percent over the next ten years.

Hours/Work Schedule

Podiatrists with their own practices can set their own hours, but in general, you can expect to work between 30 and 50 hours a week. To accommodate their clients, many podiatrists will work in the evenings and on Saturdays. If you are self-employed, you will be responsible for your own insurance and other benefits. You will also have to hire employees, authorize purchases and oversee patient medical records and bookkeeping.

Duties/Typical Day

On any given day, a podiatrist will have to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases, conditions like heel spurs, foot or lower leg injuries and infections. You might also have to perform surgery, design plaster casts to set fractures or appliances to correct deformities, and recommend physical therapy programs to help patients recover from injuries. Some days, you will be fitting individuals with orthotics (custom-made shoes). You will also be using a computer to analyze people's feet so you can recommend the appropriate treatment. Other days, you will be ordering blood work so that you can determine conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Often, you will be helping diabetic patients with foot problems like ulcers that occur because of their poor circulation. Sometimes, you will have to refer your patients to other physicians who can help them with health issues that are beyond your area of specialization.