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A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM), known also as a podiatric physician or surgeon, qualified by their education and training to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg. When treating patients, this system is also known as the lower extremity. Podiatric physicians are uniquely qualified among medical professionals to treat the lower extremity based on their education, training and expertise. Podiatrists are defined as physicians by the federal government.
Most podiatric (DPM) programs do not require a specific major, just that you complete an undergraduate degree. Therefore, you may major in almost anything. You should consider a major that you enjoy, in which you will perform well and may serve as a basis for further graduate work or employment should you choose not to apply to or are not admitted to podiatric school.
For many students, the most difficult task is to acquire the study skills and self-discipline necessary to attain academic excellence. The success of your transition to college level work depends not only on ability, but also upon preparation, motivation, organization and how well you learn how to learn. It is important that you really learn the material, not just memorize it, as it is crucial to develop your critical thinking skills. The rigorous curriculum of a pre-podiatry student demands tenacity and stamina.
Yes, it is extremely competitive to gain admittance into podiatry school. You must be well informed, well prepared, extremely determined and work very hard to gain admission. You should also actively explore alternative careers.
Click here for a listing of core prerequisites for most health professions.
The requirements for podiatry school are similar to that of other physicians. Generally, most podiatry schools require one year of general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics designed for science majors. All courses should have laboratory components. Many schools also require anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, histology, medical terminology, microbiology, neurobiology and additional requirements may apply depending on the schools to which you plan to apply. Students should speak with a PPAC advisor and consult the admissions literature for the specific requirements at each school in which you are interested.
Competitive pre-podiatry students also possess these important qualities: competitive metrics, strong personal attributes and have meaningful pre-podiatry and other professional experiences. Visit this webpage for more information about these critical components of your application and meet often with a Pre-Professional advisor.
The Medical College Admission Test is a standardized test that measures aptitude and achievement in science, critical thinking and other areas related to the study of medicine. Podiatry schools require that you take the MCAT prior to admission. We suggest familiarizing yourself with the MCAT early on and treating MCAT preparation as a full time job over the course of the year that you will take the test. Understanding the test can positively affect what you learn in class and how you choose to retain that
The four sections of the MCAT exam are:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
As you can see, much of the MCAT focuses on reading and writing skills, so students should stretch themselves with general education courses and read beyond class requirements. The training will serve you well when you take the MCAT. Visit the American Association of Colleges of Medicine (AAMC) for MCAT information.
Generally, you apply to podiatry schools before the beginning of your senior year (or a year before you plan to enter), so you should take the admissions test by the spring or summer after your junior year.
We encourage you to be as prepared as possible the first time you take the test. If offered during the application cycle, you may repeat the test if you are not happy with your scores and have intentionally improved your test preparation strategies. A Pre-Professional advisor can discuss preparation plans with you.
The criteria for admission varies from school to school, but usually include academic record (GPA), standardized admissions exam (MCAT), letters of recommendation, demonstrated knowledge and commitment to the profession through experience and personal attributes, and in some cases a personal interview. Personal characteristics such as integrity and maturity are considered. Early in your college career you should initiate several hours of observation with at least one practicing podiatrist.
This varies from school to school. However, the majority of students accepted to podiatry school have a GPA of approximately 3.5 or higher. It is particularly important that you perform well in your science (biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, physics and math) courses. It is important for those considering professional school to be realistic about the extent to which performance meets admissions expectations.
Admission committees look at the "big picture" as they evaluate applicants. They realize that every student does not hit the ground running when they enter college. Admission committees expect an excellent academic record, but may make some allowances for a problem semester, slow start or rough spot. If academic problems arise, you must bounce back and perform better than ever to show that the problem was an exception, rather than the rule. Use resources such as professor and T.A. office hours, the Learning Commons and other Academic Excellence & Support Services offices.
Letters of Recommendation are accepted but not required. It may be appropriate to have one letter come from a science professor that had you in class and one letter from a podiatrist you have shadowed as well.
Amounts and types of aid vary from school to school, as does the cost of your education. You should investigate the costs early in your undergraduate career. Knowing that you are probably going to incur a substantial loan debt for podiatry school may affect the way that you borrow for your undergraduate education. Most applicants are eligible for government originated aid; apply during January of your application cycle, even if you are still waiting to find out whether or not you have been accepted. Apply for aid at fafsa.gov.
Preparing for admission to podiatry school requires careful long-range planning and accurate information. The PPAC specializes in providing you with necessary information and helping you develop good planning skills. The staff of the PPAC provides you with help through each step of the way. PPAC provides services including course selection, career exploration, time management tips, information on individual programs, admissions test preparation advice, managing letters of recommendation and links to ways to get experience in health care settings.
American Association of College of Podiatric Medicine (AACPMAS)
Podiatric Medical College Information Book
American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA)
- The DPM Mentors Network is designed to match you with a podiatric physician who practices near where you live or go to school. DPM Mentors will take the time to show you how they practice medicine, introduce you to the team of healthcare practitioners with whom they work, and answer your questions about the profession. Some DPMs may let you observe their interactions with a patient.