Preparing For A Podiatrist Career
The primary job of podiatrists is to diagnose and treat foot ailments. Podiatrist are charged with treating such maladies as heel spurs, arch problems, ingrown toenails, corns and calluses. They are also charged with the task of treating those who have specific foot problems that are typically associated with diseases such as diabetes. Other tasks that podiatrists may do include fitting corrective shoes, setting bone fractures, treat ankle injuries and in some circumstances perform foot surgery.
In order to properly diagnose particular problems associated with the feet and treat patients effectively, podiatrists may have to order an array of laboratory test and x-rays. Podiatrists are also trained to identify specific health conditions that may manifest themselves initially through foot problems. These health conditions include diabetes, heart disease, gout and arthritis. When these conditions are identified, the podiatrist may then refer the patient to other health care professionals to correct the underlying problem.
Career Outlook For Podiatrists
Due to an increased number of injuries among a aging, and increasingly active population, employment of podiatrist is expected to grow at a rate nearing ten percent over the course of the next decade. The need for podiatrists is also increasing due to a larger percentage of the population contracting diseases that may affect foot health, such as obesity and diabetes.*
The only factor inhibiting job growth in this field, is the increased reluctance by both public and private health care insurers of subsidizing specialty healthcare. Despite this fact, job growth and security in the field of podiatry is expected to exceed the national average for similar professions.
While podiatry is a relatively small field, job opportunities for new applicants is projected to be very good. This is due to the fact that job growth is adequate to accommodate new workers in this field, and because of the retirement of established podiatrists.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Board-certified podiatrists enjoy the greatest opportunities due to the fact that many manage care facilities require their employees to be board-certified. Recent graduates of podiatric colleges will generally find more opportunities seeking work in health care networks, clinics and group medical practices, then they would in private practices. One of the most difficult challenges facing the new podiatrist is establishing a practice in areas with highly concentrated podiatrist populations. Typically these areas with high podiatrist populations include areas around medical schools or colleges of podiatric medicine.
Work Environment For The Podiatrist
Most of the podiatrists in the work force today are employed by clinics or private offices. Podiatrists may work alone or be supported by other professionals such as administrative staff or podiatry assistants. Podiatrists may also spend a considerable amount of time away from the office as they visit patients in hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities or surgical centers. Generally these professional treat less emergency situations than other professionals in the medical field.
The average work week for a podiatrist is estimated to be between 35-40 hours, but professionals in private practice may set their own hours.
In order to gain entrance to a podiatric college, an applicant must have at least ninety hours of undergraduate study, maintain a suitable grade point average, and meet the minimum test scores on the Medical College Admission Test. The applicant must also have at least eight semester hours in the following courses: physics, biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and English. The podiatric applicant must also have a full complement of premed courses.
After graduation from a podiatric college, most applicants enter the field in a hospital residency program. These residency programs generally last for a term of 3-4 years. During this time the podiatrist will receive additional advanced training and will be required to assist emergency medicine physicians, anesthesiologists, and orthopedic surgeons.
Before beginning work, podiatrists must meet the licensure requirements for podiatric medicine in their state. These license requirements vary from State to State, but many States will grant licensure to a podiatrist who wants to work in their state, if they have received a license in another state. In order to be licensed, podiatrists must not only have graduated from an accredited college of podiatric medicine, but must also have passed a series of oral and written exams. Most states also require the podiatrist to complete at least two year of residency at an approved healthcare facility before they can qualify for licensure.
Podiatrists have some of the highest earnings in the medical profession. A survey recently completed by Podiatry Management Magazine reported that professionals in this field have a median net income that exceeds $110,000 per year. Podiatrists who worked in multi-specialty facilities or who worked in facilities with a partner generally have a higher net income than those who are employed in a solo private practice.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Podiatrists who work as salaried employees will usually receive benefits which include a retirement plan and health insurance. Podiatrists who are self-employed have to provide for their own benefits and must also bear the costs of running their private offices.