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My Adventure to Becoming a Podiatrist

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During the time I spend chatting with patients I have found that many people don't realize that podiatry schooling is a completely separate college compared to an allopathic or osteopathic (MD or DO) medical school program. Podiatry school is similar to dentistry or optometry in the sense that your education starts almost immediately in your specialty field rather than getting a general medical education and specializing later in your education.

When I started podiatry school at Des Moines University one of my first classes was Introduction to podiatric medicine where I learned the history and basic terminology of podiatry. That first year I also took basic science and medical classes such as gross anatomy, human physiology, microbiology and physical diagnosis. During my 2nd year I took classes such as clinical podiatric medicine, trauma and biomechanics and surgery. I also started shadowing clinicians in our podiatry clinic on campus. The 3rd year was busy as I saw patients in the DMU Foot and Ankle clinic and at some local clinics.  Also during 3rd year I had extensive problem based learning sessions to work through typical patient and surgical scenarios that I would likely encounter in my career.

The fourth and final year of school, I was really able to spread my wings and get out into the podiatry world. I did clinical rotations at hospitals all across the country. During this year I spent 4 weeks at a time at different programs working with many doctors, learning how and how not to run a practice, manage patients, and work with other specialties. During this time I also was able to participate in many podiatric surgeries. In addition to the heavy workload of classes and clinic work, I also prepared to take the American Podiatric Medical Licensing Exams.

This is a 3 part exam that one must pass in order to get licensed to practice podiatry. Part I is typically taken after your 2nd year in school, part II during your 4th year, and part III during your first year of residency. After graduation from podiatry school, graduates continue onto a podiatric surgical residency in an accredited hospital. This experience entails 3 years of extensive surgical training and hospital patient management.

Prior to entering residency some new graduates will do a private practice ‘preceptorship’.  This is where they spend a year learning the ‘ins and outs’ of all that takes place in podiatry practice- like I’m doing now!  After the preceptorship they will then enter a surgical residency. Once finished with residency we have completed our podiatric education and are prepared to go out on our own into whatever aspect of podiatry we choose-  multispecialty, hospital group, an associate, or open our own private practice.

If you have any questions about the podiatric field or D.P.M. credentials please feel free to contact me at [email protected]

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