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Doctors of Podiatric Medicine—On a Pathway to Becoming Fully Licensed Physicians and Surgeons?

An Evidence-Based Analysis

Leonard A. Levy Associate Dean for Education, Planning, and Research, Professor of Family Medicine/PublicHealth/Biomedical Informatics, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Nova Southeastern University, 3200 S University Dr, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33328. (E-mail: levyleon@nova.edu)

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Since the 1970s, the profession of podiatric medicine has undergone major changes in the dimensions of its practice as well as its education and training. Herein, I describe how podiatric medicine has evolved to become a profession of independent practitioners who now provide patients with comprehensive medical and surgical care affecting the foot and ankle in community practice, academic health centers, and hospital operating rooms. Preparation for the profession virtually mirrors the education and training of the MD and DO, including a 4-year postbaccalaureate curriculum with a preclinical curriculum that matches that of Liaison Committee on Medical Education–accredited medical schools and most of the clinical curriculum of undergraduate medical education. Completion of the degree of doctor of podiatric medicine prepares graduates to enter hospital-based graduate medical education programs, now 3 years in duration. A description is provided of the current podiatric medical practitioner now prepared at a level that is virtually equal to that of medical and surgical specialists who hold an unrestricted medical license.