A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM), also known as a podiatric physician or foot and ankle surgeon. DPM’s are qualified by their education and training to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. Podiatrists are uniquely qualified among medical professionals to treat the foot and ankle based on their education, training, and experience.
Are podiatrists (DPM’s) as qualified as a Medical Doctors (MDs)?
Yes, they are.
It is a common misconception that M.D’s are more qualified than DPM’s. The truth is that Podiatrists and Medical Doctors have completed the same basic curricula of medicine and clinical sciences, but they have different specialties.
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 and rigor to programs at medical schools for osteopathic doctors (DOs) and medical doctors (MDs), the podiatric medical school curriculum provides intensive focus on conditions of the foot and ankle.
After graduating from podiatric medical school, the foot and ankle surgeon enters a post-graduate 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 for DPM’s is the high volume of cases and time focused on the foot and ankle in the residency programs, which are three years in length. For example, it is common for foot and ankle surgical residents to perform up to two thousand surgeries before completing the residency.
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