How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Podiatrist?

Dr. Jeffrey Jensen, DPM

What is a Podiatrist? 

A podiatrist is a medical professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of foot diseases, disorders, and injuries. Podiatrists are also known as doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs). Podiatrists provide comprehensive care for patients with musculoskeletal and foot-related problems. This can involve performing surgery, prescribing medication, providing wound care, orthotics or prostheses and many other foot care treatments.

Podiatrist Education

In order to become a podiatrist, following completion of an undergraduate degree, completion of an accredited four-year podiatric doctoral program along with a 3-year residency program is required before you can practice. This is often referred to as the 4-4-3 model, with an optional additional year for a sub-specialty fellowship.

In total, it takes seven years of professional schooling and training to become a podiatrist. After completing their education and residency program, podiatrists may also add an additional one-year fellowship to their education. Fellowships provide specialized training in a range of podiatric sub-specialties such as sports medicine or diabetic foot and wound care.

Do Podiatrists Take The MCAT?

Yes, prospective podiatry students must take the MCAT. The MCAT, also known as the Medical College Admission Test, is the standardized test required to enter a DPM program. A student’s MCAT score is used to help determine an applicant’s eligibility for admission into podiatry school.

Podiatrist Specializations & Degree Types

In addition to a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree, some medical professionals specialize in one or more areas of podiatry. These specializations can range from sports medicine to wound care and other specialty types. Additionally, some doctors of podiatric medicine pursue degrees in business management, public health, or healthcare administration to help further their career progression.

Admissions Requirements for Podiatrist Programs

Admission into a doctoral program for podiatry strongly recommends applicants to have completed a Bachelor’s degree with coursework in the sciences. It is required to have at least 90 semester hours of coursework, but a bachelor’s degree is not always required. 

About 95% of students who attend Podiatric Medical School have a bachelor’s degree. It’s important to note that all science courses require a laboratory component as a prerequisite for admission to most podiatric medicine programs. Additionally, letters of recommendation and admissions tests may also be required.

For more details on what’s required to apply for podiatry school, read this post about Everything You Need to Know About The Requirements for Podiatry School.

Online or Hybrid Podiatrist Degree Programs

Due to the hands-on nature of podiatry school, online education is not an option for DPM programs. Students must attend classes in person during the first two years of classroom education followed by two years of hands-on clinical training. It is possible that some schools will offer recordings of the lectures to help supplement individual learning or a hybrid format.

Podiatry Fellowships

Completing a fellowship, after graduating from podiatry school and completing residency, is an excellent way for doctors of podiatric medicine to gain practical experience and specialize in areas such as diabetic wound care and sports medicine. Fellowships offer an opportunity to work closely with experienced professionals while gaining a deeper understanding of the field.

Benefits of Becoming a Podiatrist

As with most medical professions, becoming a podiatrist comes with its own set of rewards and benefits. For starters, it is an incredibly rewarding career helping people improve their quality of life through proper foot care and preventive medicine. Additionally, podiatrists are highly sought after and can have the potential to make a good salary. Furthermore, the job outlook for podiatrists is on the rise making it an excellent career choice.

Becoming a podiatrist requires dedication and commitment. The schooling process takes seven years minimum depending on the degree program chosen and any fellowships pursued. It is important for aspiring doctors of podiatric medicine to research the admissions requirements for their desired school and consider any additional fellowships that may increase their knowledge base. With proper education and training, graduates of podiatry school can confidently enter the field as expert practitioners. 

Interested in becoming a podiatric physician?  Apply now!