Careers in Podiatric Medicine

How to become a podiatrist

7 questions—and answers—about what is a DPM

Nearly one-quarter of all bones in the human body are in your feet. And our lower extremities play a vital role in carrying and supporting our bodies.

That’s probably why an estimated 75% of Americans suffer foot or lower leg pain or problems during their lifetime, according to a study from the University of Maryland Medical Center. The need for highly skilled, qualified and accomplished podiatrists who can alleviate these health issues continues to grow.

A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine program will help you develop the mastery needed to provide top-notch medical treatments and care to patients of all ages and physical abilities. And with a DPM degree — we’ll answer what does DPM stand for in a moment — you will be ready to pursue careers in podiatry.

Ready to find out how to become a podiatrist? Here are questions and answers to consider before you apply to podiatry school, including podiatry school average MCAT scores.

  1. What is a DPM and what does DPM stand for?
  2. What are podiatry school requirements for admission?
  3. What is a DPM program going to involve?
  4. What can I expect from podiatry school?
  5. What is a DPM doing in the field?
  6. What health care fields offer careers for podiatric doctors?
  7. How much do podiatrists make?

What Is a DPM and What Does DPM Stand for?

DPM stands for Doctor of Podiatric Medicine.

A DPM is responsible for diagnosing and treating medical conditions, diseases, disorders and injuries related to the ankle, foot and lower leg. While knowing what does DPM stand for is important, it’s also important to know if an advanced degree in podiatric medicine is right for your professional aspirations.

What Are Podiatry School Requirements for Admission?

To enroll in a professional school for podiatric medicine, you will need to fulfill the following podiatry school requirements:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in the United States. You may apply while working toward completion of the requirements for your degree. In some situations, exceptional students may be considered for admission after completing only three years (90 semester hours) of undergraduate work at a regionally accredited institution.
  • Take 8 semester hours of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry and physics, as well as 6 to 8 hours of English. Other recommended courses include biochemistry, genetics, comparative anatomy, mathematics, psychology, and medical terminology.
  • Pass the MCAT. According to the AACPM, the podiatry school average MCAT score for the last two years is 494.6.
  • Gain exposure to medicine. Competitive applicants should have exposure to medicine documented in a letter of recommendation from a podiatrist. Exposure is recommended so applicants will have already determined whether the podiatric medical profession is right for them and can meet podiatry school requirements. This experience can be paid or volunteer. To establish a mentoring or shadowing relationship with a podiatrist, visit the American Podiatric Medical Association.

What Is a DPM Program Going to Involve?

How to become a podiatrist starts with gaining admission to one of only nine schools accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM). Once you’re in, your educational journey can take anywhere from six to eight years to complete all the podiatry school requirements to graduate and become a DPM. These include:

  • A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree from an accredited professional school
  • Residency at an approved health care facility, which is required to gain licensure
  • Taking the AACPM licensing examination and passing some, or all, components, depending on the requirements for the state in which you want to practice
  • Gain professional certification from the American Board of Podiatric Medicine

You will want to consider podiatry school requirements and podiatry school average MCAT scores, as well as your coursework, program options and obligations outside of your professional studies.

What Can I Expect From Podiatry School?

Graduate students in podiatry school learn how to become a podiatrist through:

  • Two years of classroom work studying anatomy, pathology, pharmacology and more
  • Two years of clinical rotations learning how to conduct exams, perform and interpret diagnostic tests, diagnose conditions and diseases and provide treatment options
  • Two to four years of residency for advanced training and additional hands-on experience

What Is a DPM Doing in the Field?

Podiatric doctors are accomplished medical professionals who specialize in the ankle, foot and lower leg. These health care experts provide a variety of treatments in medicine, ranging from foot and ankle procedures that help athletes get back to competing, to pain treatment therapies that help aging adults live more comfortable lives.

While podiatrists must have an extensive understanding of the lower part of the body, these medical doctors must also have a firm understanding of the entire body to appropriately tackle a wide range of health conditions in a comprehensive way. What is a DPM doing may include:

  • Providing consultations to patients
  • Performing diagnostic measures such as X-rays, lab testing and exams
  • Diagnosing conditions, including deformities, diseases, fractures, tumors and much more
  • Correcting deformities, removing tumors or repairing fractures
  • Helping patients take better care of their ankles, feet and legs
  • Improving mobility in patients so they can move more efficiently and comfortably

What Health Care Fields Offer Careers for Podiatric Doctors?

You might be thinking, “What is a DPM going to do for my professional aspirations?” Jobs in podiatric medicine are available in nearly every health care setting. Here are some of the most common:

  • Dermatology offices
  • Extended care facilities
  • Health professional schools
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Pediatric hospitals
  • Private medical practices
  • Sports medicine clinics
  • Surgical centers

How Much Do Podiatrists Make?

The national average salary for podiatric doctors is $134,300, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here are five examples of industries with high-paying salaries for Doctors of Podiatric Medicine:

  • Outpatient Care Centers — $181,470
  • Offices of Physicians — $164,300
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals — $147,530
  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners — $147,490
  • Federal Government — $143,850

How to Become a Podiatrist Starts at an Accredited Podiatry School Like DMU

Podiatry needs well-rounded experts with advanced education, training and experience. Des Moines University’s Doctor of Podiatric Medicine will provide you with the clinical and educational experience needed to succeed with a career in podiatric medicine.

Our doctoral degree program is just one of nine podiatry schools accredited by the AACPM.

Discover how to become a podiatrist at DMU, including the podiatry school average MCAT of our students, and get started on building a worthwhile health care or medical career. 

As one of the top podiatry schools in the nation you will:

  • Learn in state-of-the-art facilities such as our Standardized Performance Assessment Lab, Iowa Simulation Center, Surgery Skills Center and Human Performance Lab.
  • Have access to graduate research opportunities through our Summer Research program. These opportunities prepare med students for publishing articles, presenting research, competing for prestigious awards and applying for fellowships and scholarships.
  • Gain opportunities to learn from faculty and staff who are experts and leaders in the podiatric medicine field.
  • Prepare for your boards. Our DPM program graduates have pass rates of 98% and 100% on the first and second portions of the national board exam.
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