Podiatrists have long been known to be the people to see for ingrown nails, hammertoes, and heel pain. But today’s podiatrist does much more than that. Let’s first talk about their education, and then what that allows them to do.
To become a podiatrist, after high school, a person must attend an undergraduate university and receive a 4 year bachelor degree. Most choose to major in a science related major, such as biology, chemistry, exercise science, physiology etc… By completing these degrees, they have taken the necessary courses to prepare to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). An applicant then submits their college transcript along with their MCAT score to a podiatric medical college. Although separate from MD medical schools, podiatric medical school’s curriculum is held to the same standard of other doctorate level medical programs. After 4 years of medical school and passing of board exams, a person must then complete a 3 year residency program at a hospital somewhere across the country. During these 3 years, a podiatrist receives their surgical training. And at last, once licensed, a person can then practice as a podiatrist. All in all, a licensed podiatrist receives at least 11 years of additional education after high school.
As academic standards and competitiveness have increased, the level of training has also increased. Today’s podiatrist can still trim calluses and nails of high risk patients like diabetic like we always have. But they are also trained to fix ankle fractures, repair Achilles tendons, and even put a camera into the ankle joint and clean it out like an orthopedic surgeon commonly does to a knee. Just like in many medical specialties, some podiatrists like to focus their efforts in pediatrics, athletes, or geriatric patients. Even if the podiatrist you are seeing doesn’t routinely treat your current condition, he/she surely knows of another podiatrist in the community that does.
Ask your podiatrist what he can treat. You’ll be pleasantly surprised what they can help you with.