A Podiatrist, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), is the only health care professional whose total training focuses on the foot, ankle and related body systems. After completing undergraduate education, the foot and ankle surgeon completes the four-year curriculum at an accredited podiatric medical school, graduating with the degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM). Although identical in length to programs at medical schools for osteopathic doctors (DOs) and medical doctors (MDs), and covering basic and clinical sciences, the podiatric medical school curriculum also provides intensive focus on conditions of the foot and ankle.
After graduation from podiatric medical school, the foot and ankle surgeon enters a postgraduate residency in podiatric medicine and surgery approved by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education. These residencies are similar to, and are often integrated with, residencies for MDs and DOs, and provide training in general medicine, general surgery and surgical specialties. The critical difference is the higher volume of cases and time focused on the foot and ankle in residency programs for podiatric surgeons. Currently, the majority of podiatric residency programs are three years in length.
After completing their residencies, foot and ankle surgeons may receive additional training in specific areas of foot and ankle surgery through fellowships.
The podiatric physician cares for people of all ages. Common disorders of feet include bunions, heel pain/spurs, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown toenails, warts, corns, calluses, sprains, fractures, infections, and injuries. If your podiatric surgeon is certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, he or she has successfully completed a credentialing and examination process and has demonstrated knowledge of podiatric surgery. This includes the diagnosis of general medical problems and surgical management of foot diseases, deformities, and trauma of the foot, ankle and related structures.