Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPMs) prevent, diagnose and treat foot disorders resulting from injury or disease. A DPM makes independent judgments, prescribes medications and performs surgery. The human foot has a complex interrelation with the rest of the body which means that it may be the first area to show signs of serious conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Since the podiatric physician is often the first to detect symptoms of these disorders, he or she becomes a vital and sometimes lifesaving link in the health care team. Doctors of Podiatric Medicine can perform and order all necessary diagnostic tests (such as laboratory work, x-rays, MRIs and CAT scans) and required treatments (including, but not limited to, surgery, medications, and physical therapy programs).Specialty areas include surgery, sports medicine, biomechanics, geriatrics, pediatrics, orthopedics or primary care. There are nine colleges that grant DPM degrees and more than 200 hospitals and institutions that offer the required 2 years of postdoctoral training residencies in podiatric medicine.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in podiatry, you should visit the office of a practicing podiatrist to learn more about the profession and possibly to obtain a letter of recommendation, which will be needed when you apply to a podiatry program. This visit will demonstrate both your seriousness in applying to a college of podiatric medicine and will give you a firsthand opportunity to see if the profession fits your needs and aptitudes. Any visit or volunteer experience you are able to conduct at a podiatrist’s office should be mentioned in your application to podiatric medical colleges. A letter of recommendation and/or some statement from the doctor can document evidence of your experience.
Podiatrists can work in general or group practices and are free to develop a special practice focus such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or athletics. Possible career settings also include foot clinics associated with hospitals in major urban areas or small rural towns.
In addition to private practice, podiatrists can:
- Serve on the staffs of hospitals and long-term care facilities.
- Teach and conduct research at medical and nursing schools.
- Serve as Commissioned Officers in the armed forces and in the U.S. Public Health Service.
- Work in municipal health departments.
The courses listed below are those that undergraduates are required to complete prior to entering podiatric medical college.
As you plan your course of study, please note these important considerations:
- Please check with each podiatric program for specific requirements, as these can vary from program to program.
- All of your required courses must be taken for a letter grade, not on a Pass/No Pass (P/NP) basis.
- Please note that some podiatric medical schools will not accept AP credit.
One year of general chemistry with lab
-Chem 1A/1AL, Chem 1B/1BL, Chem 1C/1CL (or Chem 2 equivalent)
One year of organic chemistry with lab
-Chem 109A, 109B, 109C and 6AL, 6BL
One year of biology with lab
-MCDB 1A/1AL, 1B, MCDB 1BL or EEMB 2L, EEMB 2, 3, 3L
One year of physics with lab
-Physics 6A/6AL, 6B/6BL, 6C/6CL
Three quarters titled "Writing" or "English"
-Writing 1 or AP credit will not count for this requirement.
-One quarter should be a literature course taught in the English department.
-Writing 109HP is a useful course for writing personal statements and should be taken closer to when you apply.
Mathematics and Statistics: see "Mathematic and Statistics for Pre-health Students--Revised"
-Calculus is not required by most schools but is a pre-requisite for some of the required science courses and required for some majors.
-Please check with individual schools for specific Math requirements.
Possible additional coursework
-Some schools require additional coursework. It is important that you check with the individual schools about specific requirements. The following are some courses that may be required:
-Anatomy (not available at UCSB; BMS 107 at SBCC)
-Biochemistry (MCDB 108A or 110)
-Genetics (MCDB 101A)
-Microbiology (MCDB 131)
-Physiology (MCDB 111)
Please note that many schools of Podiatry require the MCAT, and we generally recommend that students take biochemistry, genetics, and physiology to prepare for the MCAT.
Please consider the schedule above as a sample; it is only one of several paths for completing essential pre-health requirements. Students, in consultation with pre-health, general, and major advisors, should develop individual schedules that will allow them to explore their interests, achieve their goals, and complete other required and recommended courses. Note that podiatry schools require a year of physics with lab (Physics 6A & 6AL, 6B & 6BL, 6C & 6CL), and although most students complete physics by the end of the 3rd year, just when to take physics depends on how well students are meeting the demands of their other courses. We strongly recommend you consult with a pre-health advisor or general Letters and Science advisor if you are considering enrolling in physics as a first year student. For scheduling upper division biology courses after second year, students should meet with pre-health and major advisors to consider their options.
Typically the MCAT is required for admission to podiatric medical schools. However, some schools will accept the GRE or DAT score in lieu of the MCAT. It is important to note that only MCAT exams taken within the last three years are acceptable.
Volunteering, shadowing a podiatrist, and performing undergraduate research are all excellent ways to improve your application to a podiatric medical college. In general, schools are looking for three areas of relevant experience:
- Clinical experience
- Community service
When selecting your extracurricular activities, keep in mind that podiatric programs require a letter of recommendation from a podiatric physician. Give priority to any activity that can help you build a relationship with a podiatrist—especially shadowing.
The American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine administers the Application Service (AACPMAS) that processes all applications submitted for admission to the colleges of podiatric medicine. (Note: AACPMAS does not receive or distribute letters of recommendation.)
If you intend to apply, you will need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) as a prerequisite. Unless you plan to take a gap year(s) after graduating, plan on taking the MCAT before you begin your senior year of college, no later than August. Your MCAT scores must be reported to the AACPMAS.
A single AACPMAS application will be used to provide your information to your chosen podiatric schools. This information includes your biographical information, academic records, grade point averages and hours by academic status, course record GPA, hours by subject, and MCAT scores. In addition, the application contains an essay page which you can use as you wish. Each college of podiatric medicine will forward any supplemental materials to you when it learns of your interest in the school. These materials must be returned directly to the individual colleges. Your official transcripts also must be sent directly to the schools to which you are applying.
Applications are processed beginning September 1st of each year (approximately) for admission the following fall. After your correctly completed application has been received, AACPMAS requires approximately 24 hours to process and electronically transmit your information to your designated colleges. The deadline for priority consideration for the fall entering class is April 1st. It is crucial to apply early as admissions are “rolling.” In other words, the longer you wait to apply, the more your chances of admission decrease.
What are the Selection Procedures for Admission?
What are Some of the Characteristics of Entering Students?
Approximately one thousand applicants apply to podiatric medical school each academic year. In 2011-12 minority students increased slightly from 42% to 44% of all applicants: Asian applicants totaled 13%, remaining the same as the previous cycle; African American applicants increased from 7% to 10%; and Hispanic applicants increased from 5% to 7%.
- Approximately 97% of applicants in 2010-2011 held a bachelor’s degree or higher
- In 2012, the overall GPA for matriculating students was 3.3, and the average science GPA was 3.1. The average MCAT scores are: Verbal Reasoning 6.7; Physical Science 6.8; and Biological Sciences 7.4.
- First-year enrollment for the 2012-2013 entering class was 687, of which 40% (276) were female.
- Enrollment at AACPM’s nine member educational institutions of podiatric medicine totals 2465 in 2012-2013.