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Podiatrists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat ankle, feet, and movement disorders. Some podiatrists specialize in surgery. Regardless of specialty, all podiatrists are licensed to prescribe medications, including controlled substances restricted by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Since many ankle and feet problems are best treated with exercise, podiatrists frequently recommend physical therapy treatments.

Podiatrists frequently diagnose health problems, such as kidney problems, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes, which begin manifesting themselves in the ankles and feet. Additional information about podiatry careers can be obtained from the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Working Conditions
Podiatrists are usually employed at hospitals, assisted living facilities, physical therapy clinics, medical schools, and veteran's hospitals. Many podiatrists setup and manage foot clinics in large and rural cities.

Podiatrists usually enjoy flexible work schedules. As a result, this is a great career for aspiring doctors who want the opportunity to spend time with family and friends. They typically work between 30-60 hours a week. Podiatrists who setup and run private clinics determine their own schedules.

Career Training and Education
To become a podiatrist, you must complete a 4 year program at a podiatric medical school. During the first couple of years, podiatric medical students complete basic medical studies. During the final 2 years, they focus on patient care and podiatric curriculum.

As with all doctors, podiatric medical students are required to complete courses in immunology, pathology, microbiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, physiology, and anatomy. Additionally, they're immersed in sports medicine, orthopedics, podiatric pathology, lower extremity anatomy, and biomechanics.

Podiatric medical students gain real life experience at foot clinics, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities.

Following podiatric medical school, graduates complete 2-3 year residencies. State certification boards require podiatrists to spend at least 2 years in a residency. During residencies, podiatrists gain experience with emergency care, pediatrics, orthopedics, surgery, infectious disease, and internal medicine. Podiatrists completing 3 year residencies are trained in ankle and rear foot surgery.

Additional information about careers in podiatry can be obtained from these organizations:
  • American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM)
  • American Podiatric Medical Students' Association
  • Student Doctor Network
  • Student National Medical Association
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