What is a Podiatrist?

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

In the world of medicine, there’s doctors and specialists for almost every part of the body and every condition. For someone who doesn’t work in the medical field, it can get confusing when trying to figure out who to see for certain conditions. And to make it worse, it only gets more overwhelming with the accessibility that comes with looking up our symptoms on the internet.


If you’ve been experiencing pain, discomfort, or noticeable concerns on your feet, ankles, and lower parts of your leg, you might be wondering who to see. This is where a Podiatrist comes in. A Podiatrist is not the same as an Orthopedist, but they often get confused by the general public. To help clear things up, we’re going over what a Podiatrist is and give some background to help you get to know our field.


What is a Podiatrist?


A podiatrist is a doctor of Podiatric Medicine, a Physician and Surgeon who treats the ankle, foot, and other related structures of the leg. In addition to treating injuries, they can treat ongoing complications related to health issues like diabetes. You might also hear them being called a Podiatric Physician or Doctor of Podiatric Medicine.


Are Podiatrists Doctors?


Podiatrists are doctors who only specialize in fields related to the foot, ankle, and parts of a leg. Podiatric physicians are uniquely qualified among medical professionals to treat the lower extremity based on their education, training, and expertise.


What Do Podiatrists Do?


On an average day, a Podiatrist might:

  • Provide consultations to patients who require continued treatment of disorders and preventive foot care

  • Diagnose various foot alignments such as tumors, ulcers, fractures, skin or nail diseases, and problems such as weak feet and foot imbalance

  • Treat conditions such as corns, calluses, bunions, heel spurs, ingrown toenails, arch problems, shortened tendons, cysts, bone disorders, and abscesses

  • Design corrective orthotics, plaster casts, and strappings to correct deformities

  • Correct walking patterns and balance

Education and Training


Podiatrists are required by Podiatric medical schools to attend a four-year curriculum. After those four years, a new Podiatric physician is required to participate in residency training. Typically, most states require a minimum of two years of postgraduate residency training in an approved healthcare institution. Board-certified Podiatric physicians are required to have two years of residency training.


In residency training, they gain experience in a variety of fields like anesthesiology, internal medicine, infectious disease, surgery, ER, and pediatrics. Podiatric medical graduates select a 36-month Podiatric Medicine and Surgery Residency (PMSR) that includes training in rear foot and ankle surgery.


Licensing and Board Certification


Podiatric Physicians are licensed to treat the foot and its related structures by medical, surgical or other means in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. State licensing requirements typically include they graduate from 1 of the 9 accredited schools and colleges of Podiatric medicine, the passage of the National Board exams, postgraduate training, and written and oral examinations. Podiatric physicians can also become certified in one or both primary care and orthopedics, or surgery.


Should I See a Podiatrist?


If you’ve been experiencing symptoms that lead you to think there is something wrong with your feet, ankles, or lower legs, don’t look up your symptoms. Instead, you can call us and schedule an appointment to come in. We have three locations and a great team of highly trained Podiatrists who have spent years in this field.


-Total Foot Care & Wellness Team

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