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Podiatric medicine is the branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and surgical, physical, mechanical, and medical treatment of the foot and ankle. A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine can treat a variety of ailments, from bunions to reconstructive ankle surgery. Other ailments treated in podiatric medicine include neuromas, corns, ingrown nails, hammertoes, calluses, heel pain, sprains, fractures, infections and injuries.
In addition, Doctors of Podiatric Medicine can specialize in a variety of areas, including sports medicine, diabetic wound care, dermatology, radiology, pediatrics and surgery. They work in a variety of settings including private practices, clinics, hospitals, and educational environments. Many podiatrists own their own businesses. Podiatrists are the only doctors to receive specialized medical and surgical training and board certification in the care of the lower extremity.
For those considering podiatric medicine, a career in this branch of medicine may be a step in the right direction. According to Podiatry Workforce Study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (JAPMA), KSUCPM, as well as the eight other colleges of podiatric medicine would need to triple its graduates between now and 2014 in order to meet the growing population demands.
The American population is changing. According to the United States Census Bureau, there will be an 82.2% increase in the number of 65 year old and older US residents compared to 2009 levels. In addition to the aging population, America has other factors that contribute to the demand for podiatrists: Diabetes and Obesity.
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States. More than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes. In 2006, about 65,700 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in people with diabetes.
If every American at risk for developing a diabetic foot ulcer visited a podiatrist once before complications set in, the US health-care system could save $3.5 billion in one year. Closing this gap in podiatric care would reduce health-care waste on preventable conditions, which reportedly starts at $25 billion, by 14 percent. This estimation is a projection based on findings from a Thomson Reuters study published in the March/April 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (JAPMA).
There is a large prevalence of obesity within the American population. Nearly 37.5% of the American population is obese. Obesity increases the risks for many health care conditions, including Type 2 Diabetes. A staggering 72 percent of Americans say they do not exercise because foot pain prevents them from doing so, according to a recent survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). This finding, when viewed in light of the soaring rates of US obesity as reported by the Centers for Disease Control, makes visiting a podiatrist and addressing foot pain critically important.
Adding to the profession's demand, podiatric medicine touts desirable salaries and a flexible lifestyle. The most recent podiatric practice survey in 2011 revealed a median salary of $160,000. In addition, podiatry's working conditions in comparison to other medical specialties offer more options in practice structure. This gives both those seeking an engaging, always-on-call atmosphere in a hospital emergency room and those looking for a more laid-back, family-friendly schedule the opportunity to each thrive in their respective workplaces.