• Podiatric Medicine

    Podiatric medicine, formerly called podiatry, is a branch of the medical sciences focusing on the study of human movement, with the medical care of the foot and ankle as its primary focus. A doctor of podiatric medicine is a professional who went through long and thorough study to become a unique specialist, well qualified to treat a specific part of the body. In a way, this profession is similar to a dentist or ophthalmologist. About 14, 000 podiatrists currently practice in the United States.

    Surgery, pediatrics, sports medicine, biomechanics, trauma, and various diseases and conditions: doctors of podiatric medicine (DPM), or podiatrists, do it all. A podiatrist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of foot disorders, diseases, and injuries. A DPM makes independent judgments, utilizes x-rays and laboratory tests for diagnostic purposes, prescribes medications, orders physical therapy, sets fractures, and performs surgery, when necessary. A DPM works closely with other health professionals to treat and control diseases and conditions.

    The human foot is a complex structure containing 26 bones and many muscles, nerves, ligaments, and blood vessels. It is uniquely designed for balance and support of the body. Interestingly, our feet are frequently the first area to show symptoms of serious diseases, for example, diabetes and heart disease. So a doctor of podiatric medicine, or a podiatric physician, is often the first to blow the whistle on these conditions and, thus, he or she becomes an important member of the health care team, frequently saving lives of his or her patients.

    Podiatrists may choose to lead a general practice in podiatric medicine or to specialize in one of the areas of interest. For example, a DPM may specialize in orthopedics / biomechanics and focus on prevention, diagnostics, and treatment of foot abnormalities through the use of prostheses, physical treatment, medication, exercises, or special footgear. He or she can choose to become a podiatric surgeon and perform surgeries, including plastic surgery, prosthetic joint implants, and other techniques. Other areas of specialization include working with children (podopediatrics), elderly (podogeriatrics), or athletes (podiatric sports medicine).

    Podiatrists spend most of their time in a private practice office, although they perform surgeries at a hospital and may visit patients at nursing homes. They frequently lead their own practice and need to develop business skills to be successful. Compared to other physicians, podiatrists more likely to set their own hours and have fewer after -hours emergencies or "on call" responsibilities.

    For more information on careers in podiatric medicine, contact the: American Podiatric Medical Association.

    Prerequisite Coursework

    Minimum course requirements for all of the schools and colleges of podiatric medicine include the following prerequisites (all science courses require a lab and should be designed for students majoring in Biology or other health-related fields):

    2 semesters of Biology
    2 semesters of General or Inorganic Chemistry
    2 semesters of Organic Chemistry
    2 semesters of Physics
    2 semesters of English.

    Experience has shown that the majority of successful candidates have had a curriculum that included the following courses:

    Cell Biology
    Anatomy and Physiology

    Relevant Tests

    All colleges require the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) that must be taken within 3 years prior to matriculation. Applicants are encouraged to take the MCAT in the summer or fall prior to the year of admission. March 1st of each year is the deadline for priority consideration for the upcoming Fall admission. The final application deadline date is June 30th of each year for Fall admission of the same year. Other admission requirements include letters of recommendation which are to be sent directly to the podiatric medical schools, as well as personal interviews.

    For the 2016 AACPMAS cycle, the fee for the initial application and first designated college is $180. Each additional designation at the time of submission costs additional $45. Additional designations after the initial submission of the application are $60 for each additional designation.

    Admission Requirements

    Candidates applying to Podiatric Medicine Programs should demonstrate evidence of preparation for a career in medicine, and specifically a career in podiatric medicine. 97% of all applicants have Bachelor’s Degrees. Candidates must first complete a minimum of three years or 90 semester hours of college credit at an accredited institution. Candidates with strong science preparation are preferred. Successful candidates should also have good time management, problem solving proficiency, and strong communication skills. Successful candidates should also be able to demonstrate record of community service or good works and a strong academic record in the sciences.

    Mentoring and shadowing for students interested in podiatric medicine

    Students planning to apply to professional programs in podiatric medicine are strongly encouraged to talk with a number of podiatrists about the profession. Mentoring and shadowing experiences in several practices are recommended for potential applicants. Generally, podiatrists are receptive to requests from students for interviews that can lead to mentoring and shadowing experiences.

    Who is Admitted to Podiatric Medicine Programs?

    Around 1,000 applicants apply to podiatric medical school each academic year and First year enrollment totals range from 500-600 per year. Women make up ~40% of the applicants and matriculating students.

    During the last five years, the average GPA of the students matriculated to Podiatric Medicine Programs remained stable at 3.3, with the Science GPA of around 3.2 and Non-Science GPA of 3.5. Average MCAT scores for admitted students were 7 for Verbal Reasoning and Physical Science sections and 7.4 for Biological Science section.

    Degree Programs and Colleges of Podiatric Medicine

    In the USA, there are nine accredited Podiatric Medicine Colleges. They are represented by the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM) that administers the centralized applications submitted for admission.

    The Podiatric Medicine Colleges are located in Miami Shores, FL, Oakland and Pomona, CA, Des Moines, IA, Independence, OH, Glendale, AZ, New York, NY, North Chicago, IL, and Philadelphia, PA. The list of all colleges with detailed information including the tuition costs and the breakdown of living expenses is available from the Council on Podiatric Medicine Education and individual websites of these colleges.

    The course of instruction leading to the DPM degree takes four years. The first two years are devoted to classroom instruction and laboratory work in the basic medical sciences, such as anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology, with some clinical exposure. During the third and fourth years, students concentrate on courses in the clinical sciences, gaining experience in the college and community clinics, and hospitals. Clinical courses include general diagnosis, therapeutics, anesthesia, and surgery. The tuition costs range between $30,000 and $ 40,000 a year.

    Potential applicants to these colleges should visit the AACPM website.

    Application Resources