People spend a great deal of time on their feet. When you think of the fact that an average adult takes approximately 18,000 steps a day, and that in their lifetime people walk about 70,000 miles, it's no wonder that 75 to 80 per cent of adults suffer from lower limb problems. As nations around the world become more active across all age groups, the need for foot care will become increasingly important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The human foot is a complex structure designed for balance and mobility. It contains 26 bones with muscles, nerves, ligaments, and blood vessels. The 52 bones in the feet make up about one-fourth of all the bones in the human body. Healthy feet are important for a happy life that is why there’s an ever-growing demand in professional podiatrists around the world.
The foot may be the first area to show signs of serious conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. Podiatrists, also known as doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs), diagnose and treat disorders, diseases, and injuries of the foot and lower leg. Their specialist skills are used to treat minor infections and ailments, defects and injuries, as well as conditions and symptoms associated with diseases such as diabetes. Podiatrists also provide preventative care and advice to patients. The podiatric physician cares for people of all ages, treating any foot problem. The common disorders include bunions, heel spurs, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown toenails, warts, corns and calluses. Podiatrists also render care of sprains, fractures, infections, and injuries of the foot, ankle and heel. For more in-depth and intense problems, podiatric physicians provide such treatment regimes as orthoses, cryotherapy, electrosurgery, ultrasonics, specialized dressings, and exercise therapies.
The field of podiatry is transitioning from the historic little-to-no-residency medical training to a full physician program including a three-year surgical residency.
If a podiatric physician is certified it means that he or she has successfully completed a credentialing and examination process and has demonstrated knowledge of podiatry, including the diagnosis of general medical problems and surgical management of foot diseases, deformities, and trauma of the foot, ankle and related structures.
After obtaining an undergraduate degree, podiatric doctors have to spend four years in a college of podiatric medicine to obtain a doctorate degree. Many podiatrists further their education by participating in a post-graduate residency program at an approved hospital or university. Following their doctorate degree, each podiatrist must pass national and state examinations in order to be licensed for practice.
Podiatrists may advance to become professors at colleges of podiatric medicine, department chiefs in hospitals, or general health administrators.
Anyone planning a career in podiatry should have scientific aptitude, manual dexterity, and interpersonal skills; should be independent and highly motivated, enjoy health care, be good with hands and have a good business sense.
As far as I’m concerned, I'm a doctor from the knee down. I have a desire to work with people on a one-to-one basis. I am considering a career in podiatry because, just like Dr. Scholl, the "father of modern podiatry" and a prolific inventor who created a range of remedy and cushioning devices covering the whole spectrum of common foot conditions, I’m determined to make it my life-long mission to improve the health, comfort and well being of people through their feet.
With full medical training, I will be able to work with patients who need everything from a callous removal to an ankle operation. A proper medical training will also help me spot other problems with symptoms in the lower extremities and will enable me to diagnose, treat and prescribe medicine and perform surgery for disorders of the foot and the ankle and leg. A detailed understanding of vascular and neurological assessment techniques, along with wound care skills, will also allow me to make my contribution in the prevention of amputation in high-risk patients.
As most podiatric physicians, I’m planning to spend time visiting patients in nursing homes or perform surgery at hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers. If I have my private practice, I will set my own hours, but if I have to, I am willing to work evenings and weekends to accommodate my patients. I want my patients to know that they can call me about anything, any time.
Foot and ankle injuries occur in all types of sports, so it’s also my desire to work with athletes to keep them doing what they love. I would also like to serve as a team doctor for professional sports, and look forward to building relationships with high schools and colleges.
If there is an activity that people want to do that they can't, I want to help them to be able to do it; I want people to enjoy their life, whether it's by surfing, wearing high heels, having pretty toenails or just walking without pain.