The podiatric medical profession has evolved substantially in the past 80 years. This evolution includes major changes in scope, in the requirements necessary to enter a podiatric medical school, and in the curriculum that must be completed to earn the degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine. Entrance requirements to the schools are now identical to the prerequisites for admission to MD and DO institutions, and licensure requires the completion of graduate medical education. Much of the curriculum also is the same as it is in MD and DO schools. In the past decade, discussion focusing on the ability of the DPM to acquire the MD or DO degree has intensified. An analysis is provided using a historical context regarding this potential initiative. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 102(2): 172–176, 2012)
It has been more than 14 years since identification of the human genome. This phenomenon is creating a revolution in all components of the health-care world. To date, little has been included in the podiatric medical literature despite the fact that so many of the conditions affecting the pedal extremity have genomic implications. Genomics will have a major effect on prevention, diagnosis, and patient management and needs to be included in podiatric medical practice as well as in the curriculum of podiatric medical schools.
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.
As physicians, podiatric medical doctors should not define themselves as medical professionals who treat the foot and ankle but rather as medical professionals who prevent, diagnose, and treat people who have foot and ankle problems. Patients who come to see podiatric physicians often have other health-care issues, and because of the education and training that doctors of podiatric medicine receive, they are uniquely qualified to identify and respond to findings not only related to the pedal extremity but also that may affect overall health, have a major effect on quality of life, and even help reduce overall health-care costs. The role of podiatric medicine as a truly integrated branch of medical care needs to be reassessed.