Podiatrist Career Requirements
To enter into a podiatrist career, your educational requirements will begin with a bachelor's degree--typically in biology or life sciences--from a four-year college or university. As an undergraduate, you'll need at least eight semester hours each of biology, inorganic/organic chemistry, physics, and at least six of English (all science classes should be designed for pre-med students). Also, engaging in extracurricular activities and community service projects can help you earn valuable professional contacts and letters of recommendation--both of which you'll need when applying to podiatrist schools. After earning your bachelor's degree, you'll need to pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), or both with acceptable scores.
Podiatrist school takes four years to complete. During the first two years, you'll learn basic principles of anatomy and physiology, chemistry, pharmacology, and pathology. During the next two years, you'll gain practical hands-on skills while working a clinical rotation (assisting doctors in hospitals, private practices, and clinics). You'll learn how to take general/podiatric histories, perform physical exams, read tests and findings, make diagnoses, and perform medical procedures. Finally, after receiving a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree, you'll complete a residency of two to four years, during which you'll receive advanced training in podiatric medicine and surgery. You may also serve clinical rotations in anesthesiology, internal medicine, pathology, radiology, emergency medicine, and orthopedic/general surgery.
A final podiatrist career requirement is state licensure. All states require podiatrists to obtain a license in order to practice medicine. To qualify for licensing examination, you must have graduated from an accredited podiatric college. Some states do not require additional examination, but instead grant licensure to practice podiatric medicine to graduates who have passed the examination from the National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners, administered in the second and fourth years of podiatric school.
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