Field of Study: Podiatric Medicine
Podiatric medicine programs prepare people to work as podiatrists, or foot doctors. Students learn to diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the feet and lower legs. They also learn to manage a medical office and follow laws and medical ethics. They can choose to specialize in sports medicine or surgery.
You've probably heard of a 75,000-mile checkup for a car. After driving a car a certain number of miles, it's a good idea to get it checked out for the wear and tear you would expect from a vehicle that has clocked that many miles.
But it probably wouldn't occur to you to give your feet a 75,000-mile checkup, would it? According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, most Americans log 75,000 miles on their feet by the time they reach the age of 50. And if you live an active lifestyle that includes sports and other fitness activities, you may reach that point sooner!
That's a lot of miles, and if a car deserves a regular checkup, don't your feet as well? Podiatrists think so. These medical doctors are dedicated to the health of your feet and ankles. They diagnose foot ailments and treat injuries, deformities, and diseases. These might include anything from an ingrown toenail to a bone disorder.
Many serious health problems such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease cause symptoms in the feet. Podiatrists can detect these problems early on and refer their patients to the appropriate specialist.
There is also a great demand for podiatrists. For every 25,000 people in the U.S., there is just one podiatrist.
As a student in this program, you learn the anatomy and structure of the foot and ankle, which are known as the "lower extremities." You study the different disorders and injuries that our feet and ankles sustain, and how to treat them. You learn how to do surgery as well. These are just some of the things you study in this program.
There are about eight accredited podiatric medical schools in the U.S. You earn a doctor of podiatric medicine degree (D.P.M.), which typically takes eight years of full-time study after high school. This includes the approximate four years of study you need to get a bachelor's degree.