Podiatric medicine focuses on the medical care of the foot and ankle. This is a branch of the medical sciences that is devoted to the study of human movement.
A doctor of podiatric medicine is a physician who has specialized his or her practice by undergoing a lengthy, thorough course of study that makes him or her uniquely qualified to treat a specific part or system of the human body.
A doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) focuses his or her practice on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disorders, diseases and injuries of the foot.
A DPM may perform any or all of the following, based on his or her independent judgment:
Ordering or performing necessary diagnostic tests
Prescribe and administer medications, including DEA-restricted pharmaceuticals
Prescribe physical therapy treatment regimens
Because an array of diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes, heart or kidney disease, may first manifest through symptoms in the lower extremities, DPMs are in a position to detect serious health problems that go unnoticed otherwise.
Podiatric Physicians receive education in the following state-of-the-art treatment techniques:
Podiatrists must possess a long list of skills to be able to diagnose and treat patients with disorders and diseases of the feet. Since they work face-to-face with patients, they need interpersonal skills, along with the skills they needed to become, and practice as a doctor.
Must give attention to what people say in order to determine appropriate course of action.
Must convey information and be able to acquire info from others effectively. Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Use logic and reasoning to determine appropriate courses of action, troubleshoot and identify issues, and solve problems.
Judgment and Decision Making
Consider and choose the best course of action. Be comfortable making decisions and taking responsibility for your actions. Make choices and standby them.
Knowing why people act as they do and determine the best treatment options for them.
Complex Problem Solving
Be able to identify and solve complex problems by using knowledge and information you gather.
Work with other healthcare professionals to coordinate care and react to their actions.
Be able to assess your patient's progress and your treatment path. Determine if there are actions to take to fix problems or improve methods.
A podiatrist may work in a group practice or in general practice. Podiatrists are free to focus the scope of their practice, such as focusing on pediatrics, sports medicine or geriatrics.
Many also are staff members of hospitals and long-term care facilities in addition to working in private practice.
Podiatrists serve on the faculties of schools of nursing and schools of medicine. In the armed forces, they served as commissioned officers.
DPMs may also be found working in the U.S. Public Health Services (USPHS) and in municipal health departments.
Potential career settings can also be found in foot clinics associated with large urban hospitals or small community hospitals in rural towns.
The practice of podiatric medicine generally involves flexibility in the work hours. This makes it an appealing career choice for those who want time for family, friends and other activities that denote a balanced lifestyle.
The hours worked in a week’s time can vary from 30 to 60 hours. Podiatrists who set up their own private practice can set their own work hours.
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