Career Development

Podiatrist Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Podiatrists are doctors who treat conditions of the foot, ankle, and lower leg. They provide diagnosis and treatment for people with conditions like congenital deformities, infections, and sports injuries.

Podiatrists are doctors who treat conditions of the foot, ankle, and lower leg. They provide diagnosis and treatment for people with conditions like congenital deformities, infections, and sports injuries.

Podiatrists may perform surgery on patients’ feet to correct problems or to prevent future complications. They also can provide medication or special devices to treat foot pain.

Some podiatrists specialize in the care of people with diabetes. They teach patients how to manage their condition and how to recognize potential problems before they become serious.

In addition to providing medical care for patients, podiatrists often conduct research into new treatments for foot disorders. Podiatrists also must keep up with current trends in the field by reading professional journals and attending conferences and seminars.

Podiatrist Job Duties

Podiatrists perform a wide range of duties including the following:

  • Diagnosing and treating foot, ankle, and lower leg pain, deformities, and injuries
  • Treating deformed toenails or nails (such as fungal infections)
  • Providing advice on foot care and hygiene to patients with diabetes or other conditions which affect blood flow to the feet
  • Assessing the general health of patients using clinical examinations including observing posture, gait patterns, sensation in the feet (including size of shoes), muscular strength in the legs and feet, and checking for wounds on the soles of the feet or infection of any kind
  • Performing surgery and other medical procedures such as toenail removal and reconstructive surgery involving the tendons and ligaments in the foot or ankle
  • Provides consultation services to patients with other health issues such as cardiovascular disease or arthritis; may refer patients with complex conditions to orthopedic specialists
  • Prescribing foot orthoses (removable devices designed to support the arch of the foot and correct certain types of gait abnormalities)
  • Prescribing medication to relieve pain or other symptoms

Podiatrist Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for podiatrists is $135,000. The top earners make over $220,000 per year. Those earning higher wages tend to work in private practice.

The employment of podiatrists is expected to remain relatively stable over the next decade. This is due to the growing elderly population that will continue to have foot problems and need treatment.

Podiatrist Job Requirements

To become a podiatrist, candidates must complete several years of post-secondary training.

Education: A bachelor’s and then a doctorate degree (DPM) is required to practice as a podiatrist. Both degrees can be earned at an accredited college or university. Many programs require students to major in biology, anatomy, nutrition, kinesiology, or another science-related field.  Students also complete coursework including infectious disease control, human anatomy, pathophysiology, and pharmacology.

During the final year of their graduate program, students complete rotations where they are placed in different areas of the podiatry department. They are given increasing responsibility throughout their time in school, all leading up to earning their diploma.

Training: Podiatrists must complete a residency program, which can last between one and four years. During this time, they work under the supervision of a senior podiatrist and receive hands-on training and learn to diagnose and treat a variety of foot and ankle problems.

Certifications & Licenses: All podiatrists must obtain a license from their state’s board of podiatric medicine. To obtain a license, they must pass an exam covering their areas of specialization and medical knowledge.

Podiatrist Skills

In addition to the specialized medical education and training, podiatrists also need the following skills:

Emotional Intelligence: Podiatrists may have to deal with emotional and sensitive situations. For example, a podiatrist may have to explain to a patient that amputation is necessary. Additionally, podiatrists must be able to manage stress well as the medical environment can be stressful.

Communication skills: As with all doctors, podiatrists must have excellent communication skills to effectively discuss treatments and solutions with patients as well as colleagues.

Compassion: Podiatrists need to be compassionate toward their patients, especially when they are handling serious medical conditions.

Analytical skills: Podiatrists must be able to effectively analyze test results and x-rays in order to correctly diagnose and treat patients.

Research skills: Podiatrists must be able to research the latest medical information and developments and stay up-to-date in order to provide the highest possible healthcare.

Teamwork: As podiatrists are specialists, they must be able to work well with other healthcare professionals such as referring doctors; this ensures that patients receive the correct care and that the patients’ medical team of doctors is kept updated.

Podiatrist Work Environment

Podiatrists usually work in their own private offices, although some work in hospitals and other health care facilities. They usually work regular business hours, but the job can be stressful. Podiatrists sometimes work with sharp instruments, and may have to stand for long periods of time. Also, they must examine the feet of many people, which involves touching skin. Podiatrists must deal with many people, many of whom are in pain. As a result, they may be exposed to stress, anxiety, and grief.

Podiatrist Career Advancement

Once a podiatrist has gained some experience and has become comfortable with his or her specialty, he or she can begin to specialize even more. Those who enjoy working with athletes, as an example, may choose to become a sports podiatrist. These professionals make sure athletes are in top physical condition and provide medical treatment for their specific needs.

Another specialization is the diabetic foot podiatrist. These professionals focus on keeping diabetics’ feet healthy and preventing potential complications. They also treat and care for those who already have complications and ensure they’re as comfortable as possible.

If a podiatrist is interested in changing careers entirely, he or she may want to pursue a position as a podiatry professor. In this position, a podiatrist can become a leader in the field and encourage other doctors to follow in their footsteps.

Podiatrist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how Podiatrists work. Podiatrists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Increased Demand for Natural Footwear

More and more people are interested in natural footwear, including shoes made from sustainable materials like hemp or bamboo.

Furthermore, this growing interest in natural products has led to increased awareness of the dangers of toxic chemicals that are often used in traditional footwear production. As a result, many people are looking for ways to avoid these chemicals when buying new shoes.

Changing Attitudes Toward Chronic Pain

Due to the increasing availability of alternative treatments for chronic pain, patients are becoming more open to non-traditional treatments and less likely to seek surgical options.

As a result, podiatrists are now focusing on developing treatment plans that emphasize these alternative methods in order to better help their patients.

Increasing Importance of Patient Education

One of the most important roles for podiatrists is educating patients about how to take care of their feet and ankles, especially since these professionals are often the first line of defense against foot injuries.

These professionals will have to keep up with changing trends in footwear design as well as new ways that people are using their feet, such as the rise in popularity of running shoes that look like street shoes. 

How to Become a Podiatrist

1. Planning Your Career Path

If you’re interested in becoming a podiatrist, it’s important to determine whether you prefer private practice or working at a hospital; these two options offer very different work experiences with their own benefits and drawbacks. It is also helpful to consider your personality type before beginning your career search; this field has a lot of social interaction with patients, so if you get nervous speaking in front of groups you might want to evaluate other options.

If you decide that becoming a podiatrist is right for you, there are several things you should do before beginning your education. Your state or provincial government will likely have specific information about licensing requirements, so contact them directly for more details on completing your training and starting your new career. It can also be helpful to speak with practicing podiatrists in your area; they can offer tips about what steps to take next and how to get started once you’ve completed your training and licensure.

2. Writing a Resume

Since a podiatrist is a specialized doctor, the best resumes for this position include a high level of detail regarding the applicant’s education and training. Many employers will be looking for evidence of your commitment to continuing education, so it’s advisable that you list all relevant courses you have taken related to podiatric medicine. In order to highlight your clinical skills, it’s important to list any professional memberships that certify your knowledge in the field of podiatric medicine.

Also note your experience in treating specific conditions such as diabetic foot care, fungal infections, etc. In addition to discussing your past work experience, include a summary section where you talk about why you are interested in the particular position, and what you can bring to the role and organization.

When writing about your job history, be sure to emphasize how well you work with others–you’ll need to collaborate with many different people in this position including patients, nurses, and other members of staff. You could do this by listing responsibilities and accomplishments and describing how you worked in a team to achieve these.

3. Applying for Jobs

When looking for a job as a podiatrist, you will want to start by becoming active in the podiatry community. Join your local podiatry society, get involved with local events, and be sure to engage in conversations about career advancement within the field. A lot of jobs will come from word-of-mouth; it’s up to you to become someone worth talking about. 

With any luck, you’ll be able to meet some key figures in the industry who can give you an insider’s perspective on various companies in your area. You can then reach out to them directly with your resume and cover letter, explaining how you think you’d be a good fit for their organization.

4. Ace the Interview

Interviewers will likely start with general questions about why you are interested in podiatry and whether you have ever worked in this field before. They may also ask about your communication skills, organizational skills, and teamwork abilities. You should also expect questions regarding your interest in performing surgery or managing a busy medical office.

When responding to interview questions it’s important to be curious and enthusiastic. This will make the interviewer feel like you are truly interested in becoming a podiatrist. It will also help convince them that you’ll make an excellent addition to their team. Be prepared to discuss how you would approach a patient with a serious condition such as an infection or diabetes.

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