How To Become a Podiatrist

How To Become a Podiatrist

In order to become a podiatrist, you must first complete a minimum of three years or 90 semester hours of college credit at an accredited institution. Over 97% of the students who enter podiatry school have a bachelor’s degree. Each of the nine podiatric medical schools requires an applicant to complete their prerequisite courses.

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The minimum semester credit hours are as follows: biology, chemistry (general or inorganic), organic chemistry, physics all require 8 semester hours each. 6-8 semester hours are required in English depending on the podiatry school. The California School of Podiatric Medicine requires 8 semester hours of English/communication studies.

All science courses require a lab and must have the designation for health professional students.

Other admission requirements include letters of recommendation which must be sent directly to the podiatric medical schools, as well as personal interviews.

Taking the MCAT is mandatory to apply to podiatry school. If your MCAT score is older than three years prior to application, you will be required to take the MCAT again. Below is a chart of the average MCAT and cumulative GPA of podiatry school matriculants at each of the nine podiatry schools. These stats are taken from the Podiatric Medical College Information Book 2019-2020.

Podiatry School 2017 Average MCAT 2017 Average Cum GPA
Midwestern University Arizona School of Podiatric Medicine
498
3.52
California School of Podiatric Medicine at Samuel Merritt University
499
3.31
Western University of Health Sciences, College of Podiatric Medicine
496
3.08
Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine
491
2.96
Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University
495
3.12
Des Moines University College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery
495
3.28
New York College of Podiatric Medicine
496
3.0
Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine
495
3.19
Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine
499
3.18

Podiatry School Curriculum

The current first-year fall curriculum at Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine consists of cell and tissue, staying alive, human anatomy and embryology, medical genetics, medical ethics, principles of medical research and podiatry, professionalism, and society I.

The current first-year spring semester includes lower extremity anatomy, medical microbiology/immunology, and physical assessment and diagnosis.

The first-year summer term consists of biomechanics I, rehabilitative medicine, lower extremity assessment and diagnosis, and introduction to medical imaging.

The second-year curriculum consists of human systems pathology I and II, pharmacology and therapeutics I and II, biomechanics II, podiatric medicine I and II, radiology and medical imaging I and II, podiatry, professionalism and society II, podiatric medical skills and introduction to podiatric surgery.

During the second year of podiatry school, you will also take the American Podiatric Medical Licensing Exam Part I (APMLE).

The third-year curriculum consists of neurology, dermatology, medicine I and II, women’s health, podiatry, professionalism and society III, pediatrics, podiatric surgery, public health administration, healthcare law and regulation, behavioral medicine, sports medicine, and traumatology. 

Third-year students spend a bit of time in classes but the majority of time is in clinical rotations. Students will also participate in skills labs.

The fourth-year is mainly dedicated to clinical rotations and clerkships. Students take podiatry, professionalism, and society IV as well. This is the year that you will attend CRIP (Centralized Residency Interview Process). In the fourth year, you will take APMLE Part II which consists of the Part II Written Examination and Part II Clinical Skills Patient Encounter.

According to The National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners Candidate Information Bulletin, APMLE Part III can be taken once the candidate has passed the Part I and Part II exams. The candidate must also receive authorization from the state board participating in the Part III program that will issue the license the candidate is seeking. 

Trying to juggle studying for boards along with completing clerkships and preparing for CRIP is often the most difficult part of podiatry school for many students. This is a time of change- wondering if you will get your residency of choice, if you passed the boards, and if you will move next year.

Residency and Fellowship

While there was nearly 100% placement in 2019, it is important to understand that this is not always the case. It really depends on the number of programs open, how many spots are available, and how many students are graduating.

Residency is usually three years however there are now some programs that are four years.  Some residency spots are strictly for training in forefoot surgery. However, most spots have the added credential in Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle Surgery.  

In addition to podiatric medicine and surgery, the following rotations are required: medical imaging, pathology, behavioral sciences, infectious disease, internal medicine and/or family practice, at least two rotations in medical subspecialties, general surgery, surgical subspecialty, anesthesiology, and emergency medicine. 

Didactic activities will be available at least weekly during residency. A journal review session will be scheduled at least once a month. 

Below are two tables showing the minimum activity volume requirements that assure the resident has been exposed to adequate diversity and volume of patient care. 

Case Activities

Podiatric clinic/office encounters
1000
Content Podiatric surgical cases
300
Trauma cases
50
Podopediatric cases
25
Biomechanical cases
75
Comprehensive history & physical exams
50

Procedure Activities

First and second assistant procedures (total): 400

First assistant procedures, including: 

Digital
80
First ray
60
Other soft tissue foot surgery
45
Other osseous foot surgery
40
Reconstructive rearfoot/ankle (added credential only)
50

After residency, there is the option to apply to and attend a fellowship. Fellowship positions have increased in number over the years and are becoming more popular. Some fellowships focus on surgery, while others may focus on wound care or sports medicine.

After Residency/Fellowship

After residency or fellowship training, you enter the “real world”. Most podiatrists work in private practice however there are some hospital-based positions available. Think about if you want to join a practice that is only podiatrists or a multi-specialty group. Some podiatrists chose to start their own practice. There are many options to consider!

Once in practice, is it essential to become Board Certified. The most common certifications podiatrists pursue are by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine and American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery. Most hospitals want to see you are Board Certified or on your way to becoming Board Certified before granting privileges.  

Podiatrists must also keep their license active through completing continuing medical education (CME). Attending conferences, local component meetings, and online courses are all ways to obtain CME. Check with your state guidelines for how often your license needs to be renewed.

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