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Career Profile: Podiatrist

Why Is Podiatry a Job of Tomorrow?
The amount of stress people’s feet go through in a day is astounding. One-fourth of all the bones in the human body are in the feet, so ensuring foot health—as podiatrists do—is vital. Employment opportunities for podiatrists are predicted to rise 9 percent by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary for podiatrists is $108,220.

What Does a Podiatrist Do?
Podiatrists are physicians who are trained in treating foot-related conditions and ailments. There are 26 bones in each human foot, surrounded by muscles, tendons and blood vessels. Caring for all of these is an important part of ensuring patient health and comfort. People put great stress on their feet every day by walking, jumping, running and a myriad of other activities. Podiatrists diagnose and treat conditions such as corns, calluses, ingrown toenails and arch problems. All of these conditions can be debilitating without treatment. Podiatrists can recommend medications, physical therapy or surgery to treat foot problems. Many podiatrists fit people with orthotics—customized shoe inserts. Podiatrists mainly work on their own, although some may form a group practice with colleagues.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Podiatrist?
Podiatrists hold a doctoral degree in podiatric medicine, which typically takes eight years to complete, with four of those years being devoted to earning a bachelor’s degree and four years spent in medical school. Undergraduate courses focus on general science and medicine, such as anatomy, biology and chemistry. Medical school courses are more centered on the specifics of working in podiatry. After medical school, prospective podiatrists must pass national and state examinations to get licensed and complete a two-year residency in a professional work environment.

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