Podiatry: An Overview and Brief History by Dr. Schlomo Schmuel
Doctors are undoubtedly some of the most appreciated and respected professionals in the world. This is a byproduct of the countless years that they spend learning how to fully prepare to be in their profession and the fact that saving people’s lives is a part of their job description as well. Thus, having an “M.D.” next to one’s name carries significant authority and respect.
Unfortunately, there are certain instances where some of the less-known subject areas of medicine do not get the attention that they deserve. A great example would be the area of podiatry. In most cases, people will lack the proper knowledge about this field of medicine as they have never come across it in their previous experiences. So, what exactly is podiatry and how did it come around?
Area of Focus
Podiatry is a field that studies and treats any disorders that originate in the lower extremity, foot, or ankle. It is a branch of medicine that does everything from diagnosing complicated conditions to performing surgical interventions when necessary. As with most other specializations in medicine, those who would like to become a podiatrist have to get additional training after graduating from their undergraduate program. In the United States, the average length of this program is three to six years and results in one receiving the title of a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine.
Brief Overview of the History of Podiatry
Taking proper care of one’s feet has been a priority since ancient civilization. This is proven by the fact that ancient Egyptians carved hands and feet on Ankmahor’s tomb. Unfortunately, podiatrists were separated from the actual field of organized medicine until very recently in the 20th century. Nevertheless, podiatrists were not wholly overlooked, as some of the history’s greatest leaders relied on their services. Examples include; everyone from the French military leader Napoleon to the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
Specifics on Training in the United States
Due to some of the changes that took place in the educational requirements for podiatrists in the United States, it is important to mention how the system is set up now. First, candidates who are interested in going to a podiatric medical school must get at least 90 credit hours with a focus in chemistry, biology, or similar. Then, they must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) which is commonly regarded as one of the hardest entry-level tests in the world.
As far as the podiatric school itself, it lasts four years and can be prolonged by residencies. According to an experienced podiatrist, Dr. Schlomo Schmuel, the residency takes another three years and is consists of continued doctoral training where residents work with actual doctors in a series of fields. Examples include; rotations in infectious disease, emergency medicine, vascular surgery, rehabilitation, and many other subspecialties.
Ultimately, those who go through the residency program only have one thing left to do — get certified by one of the specialty boards. The most common one for the U.S. is the American Board of Podiatric Medicine. Expectedly, the certification process also takes time and is incredibly intense as it sets to rule out any candidates that would not make good podiatrists.
According to Dr. Schlomo Schmuel, the vast majority of podiatrists in the U.S. are going to have their own practice. This is a byproduct of a clear lack of larger practice groups where podiatry is included. Those who do not want to have their own practice, however, can find employment in clinics where underinsured patients seek treatment.
Of course, individuals who seek more education can find ways to enrich their resume even further. This can be done by getting trained in reconstructive foot surgery for patients who underwent physical trauma. Either way, a career in podiatry is undoubtedly going to be one with many advantages and innumerable growth opportunities.