Podiatrist Job Description
Podiatrists are doctors who specialize in providing medical care to people who are suffering from problems affecting their feet, ankles, or lower legs. Common ailments that podiatrists treat include heel spurs, calluses, broken bones, abscesses, corns, ingrown toenails, and foot problems associated with diabetes.
When necessary for treatment, podiatrists may also perform inpatient or outpatient surgeries to improve the condition of their patients.
Additional responsibilities for podiatrists include:
- Using x-rays and physical examinations to diagnose diseases and injuries.
- Prescribing medications to reduce pain or treat medical conditions.
- Creating treatment and care plans to help patients correct or improve problems with their legs or feet.
- Referring patients to a specialist in the event that a condition (such as diabetes or arthritis) is suspected.
Work Environment and Schedule
Many podiatrists are self-employed, meaning that they either run their own practice or partner with other doctors in similar or divergent fields. Other podiatrists work in a hospital or for the military.
The typical working schedule varies depending on where a podiatrist chooses to work. Those who work out of an office may be able to keep regular working hours, while those who work in a hospital may be on call and have to work more irregular shifts. Additionally, podiatrists who start their own practice have to spend a lot of time running their business outside of normal hours.
If you are interested in pursuing a career as a podiatrist, it’s important to consider the lifestyle you want to live outside of work before deciding on the type of environment you’d like to work in.
How to Become a Podiatrist
Becoming a podiatrist takes a lot of work. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in this field, you will need to complete undergraduate school, spend four years earning a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree, and then three years in residency.
Additionally, every state requires a license for podiatrists to practice. The exact licensing requirements vary from state to state, but all require the successful completion of a state exam.
If you want to become certified in podiatry, there are two certifications available depending on the area you want to specialize in. For podiatric surgery, the certifying agency is the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. If you want to practice primary care podiatry, then the American Board of Podiatric Orthopedics and Primary Podiatric Medicine offers a certification that you may be interested in.
Neither certification is a requirement to practice podiatry, but some employers do require it. Plus, a certification can help build trust with patients.
There are currently 12,900 podiatrists in the United States, with 510 new podiatrist job openings created each year.
Podiatrist jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Podiatrist salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most podiatrists make between $84,000 – $166,400+ per year, or $40.37 – $80+ per hour.