What does a podiatrist do?
A podiatric physician is licensed in all states to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases and disorders of the foot and lower leg. This includes performing appropriate physical examinations using X-ray, blood and other laboratory studies, performing biopsies, and the prescription of medication. Podiatrists treat patients with fractures, dislocations, pains and strains. In addition, many podiatrists perform surgery on bones and soft tissues of the foot and ankle. A podiatrist can specialize in primary care, surgery, orthopedics, sports medicine, geriatrics, or pediatrics.
How long will it take to obtain a podiatric degree, and what is the curriculum like?
It takes four years to complete the degree in podiatric medicine. In a typical podiatric curriculum, the first two years are spent on basic science - gross anatomy, microbiology, histology, biochemistry, etc. In the third and fourth years, students complete clinical rotations in a hospital or family practice setting to get supervised hands-on work with patients. After graduation from podiatric medical school, residency begins and varies in length depending on the specialty field chosen.
What tests will I need to take to become a licensed podiatrist?
The National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners (NBPME) examinations consist of three parts. Part 1 tests your knowledge of the basic sciences such as Gross Anatomy, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Physiology, and is generally taken after the second year of podiatry school. Part 2 covers the clinical areas of General Medicine, Radiology, Orthopedics, Surgery, and Community Health and is generally taken near the end of the fourth year. Part 1 and 2 are designed to assess whether a candidate possesses the knowledge required to practice as an entry-level podiatrist. Part 3 is the licensing examination designed to determine your ability to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients. Candidates must have earned a DPM degree and applied for a license to take Part 3.
What courses should I take at Wittenberg to prepare for podiatry school?
Podiatric medical schools generally require:
- 1 year of General Biology (170 and 180)
- 1 year of General Chemistry (121 and 162)
- 1 year of Organic Chemistry (201 and 302; sometimes Biochemistry can replace Organic Chemistry II)
- 1 year of Physics (201 and 202 or 280)
- 1 year English (101 and another English A course)
While the above prerequisites apply to most podiatric schools, some schools add their own requirements. Be sure to check the schools that you are interested in applying to for other required coursework, such as:
- 1 semester of Biochemistry
- 1-2 semesters of Behavioral or Social Science (Wittenberg's S courses)
- 1-2 semesters of Humanities (Wittenberg's A or R courses)
What major should I pursue at Wittenberg if I am interested in podiatric medicine?
You can choose any of Wittenberg's 20+ majors if you apply to a podiatric medicine program upon graduation from Wittenberg as long as you take the prerequisite courses required by the schools to which you apply. Most students who apply major in Biology, Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, or Chemistry. As far as the schools are concerned, they do not put much emphasis on whether you graduate with a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree - that choice is yours. Look at the prerequisite requirements for the schools that you are interested in and the degree requirements for your major to determine which degree is the best match for you.
Do I need to have medically related hours when applying to podiatry schools?
Yes. While most podiatric programs do not have specific minimum requirements for number of paid or volunteer hours spent with a physician or members of a medical team, they do appreciate your consistent efforts to gain a more hands-on experience with the medical field. Volunteering for 2-3 hours each week during the semester demonstrates to the schools your loyalty and commitment to the profession at a time when they know you are already busy. In addition, students interested in podiatric school may choose to go through the Pre-Health Professions Committee interview process. This requires you to have 100 health related hours at the time of the interview in the spring of your junior or senior year. Stories that you can relate from these experiences can vastly improve your interview performance.
Is it important that I participate in extracurricular activities while at Wittenberg?
Yes. While the schools do not require a specific number of extracurricular activities or leadership positions, they look for both in your application materials. They consider how many years you spent with each organization and how involved you appear to be with each one (e.g., leadership roles). The schools use your experiences in this area to better understand your ability to socially interact with others, your leadership potential, and your time management skills. They seek to recruit well-rounded individuals who can successfully balance a heavy academic load with medically related experience and extracurricular activities. If successful, they infer that you will rise to the challenge of their academic program when you have fewer non-academic commitments.
How can I locate the podiatric program that is best for me?
Start early. Identify 3-5 schools of potential interest before registering for classes in the spring of your SOPHOMORE YEAR. The courses listed above are common to many podiatry schools, but there may be additional requirements for the schools you are interested in. It is best to know about those requirements while you still have room in your schedule to fulfill them.
Do research. Go to the schools' websites and make a table of courses required, average GPA of their incoming class, and number of hours in a medical setting (if any). These will give you some idea of where you need to be academically when you graduate from Wittenberg, and the courses you need to take inside your major and in the general education program to make you a good candidate for that particular set of schools. Schools consider both your science GPA and your cumulative GPA, so it is not wise to prioritize your grades in science courses over those taken for your general education requirements.
Summarize your findings. Create a sample table of school information assuming all require general biology and general chemistry. Add a column for each different course as you encounter them as prerequisites at your schools of interest.
Evaluate your findings. Match your cumulative GPA and MCAT scores with the averages for the last incoming class at each school. Read all web pages for hospitals/medical centers that have a specialty that interests you. Look for data that report on the percentage of students that have passed the board exams.
Apply to the school in the state where your parents are living and paying taxes if there is one. You have the best chance to get into the public school in that state, and the tuition at your in-state school is much less than at a private or out-of-state public school. Because there are only a few podiatric schools in the United States, you are limited in the choice of geographic location. Consider applying to between 1 and 3 schools. Websites for colleges of podiatric medicine can be found at: www.aacpm.org/
How and when should I apply to podiatric medical schools?
- Consider going through the Pre-Health Professions Committee in your junior year (if you want to go directly to podiatric school after graduation) or senior year (if you want to take a year off after graduation before matriculating to a podiatric school) to get a thorough evaluation of your potential for podiatric school and a committee letter of evaluation written to be sent on your behalf to the schools. Podiatric schools typically expect these committee letters from their applicants, especially if you are a current college student or recent graduate, but students with strong credentials can get accepted without participating in this interview process.
- Take the MCAT in the spring or summer of the same year. In either case, the strong preference would be to take the MCAT in late spring or early summer so that you know your scores before you choose schools to which you should apply, and it gives you the opportunity to retake the MCAT during the application cycle should that be necessary.
- Apply to the podiatric schools of your choice using AACPMAS during the summer that you take the MCAT. (See below.)
- Wait to receive secondary applications from your target schools, and return the completed forms to the schools as quickly as possible. If you chose to use the committee interview process, contact the pre-health advisor and give her an envelope addressed to the podiatric school (neatly) with two stamps affixed to it and your name written on the inside flap. The return address should be Dr. Pederson's business address. This envelope will be used to mail your committee letter of evaluation to the medical school.
- Wait for the results of your application after the interview to find out if you have been accepted, wait listed, or rejected by that particular school.
- You are at a disadvantage if you opt to take the MCAT late or submit your materials late in the cycle - applications are often considered as they arrive, not at the time of the deadline. Complete and send your materials in a timely manner.
Do I need to go through the Pre-Health Professions Committee when applying?
While not required, students are encouraged to go through this interview process. Most podiatric schools prefer its applicants to have a composite letter of evaluation like the one generated by the Pre-Health Professions Committee, although some students with strong credentials have been accepted to podiatric school without participating in this process. The general prerequisites for going through the committee process are:
- 100 hours of health related experience
- Cumulative grade point average > 2.80
- Junior, senior, or alumni status
More information about the committee process can be found on the pre-health committee webpage.
What is the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)?
The MCAT is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to help admission committees predict which of their applicants will perform adequately in the medical school curriculum. The MCAT is now available more than 20 times per year, but should be taken in the spring or summer of your junior year if you plan to go directly to medical school after graduating from Wittenberg, or spring or summer of your senior year if you plan to take a year off between graduation and matriculation into medical school. The MCAT assesses scientific problem solving, critical thinking, and writing skills. In addition, it explores the student's understanding of scientific concepts and principles that are necessary to the study of medicine. Because this is a content based test, you should have taken General Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Math, and Physics prior to taking this examination.
The four parts of the MCAT are:
- Verbal Reasoning: You will be given a series of passages that test your ability to comprehend, reason, and think critically. The passages vary widely in their content, but are usually esoteric.
- Physical Sciences: You will be given a series of passages related to Physics and General Chemistry which will require you to problem solve and apply your basic knowledge of these areas.
- Writing Sample: You will be given two prompts (subject matter varies widely), each of which has a topic statement and directions for three writing tasks. You must explain or interpret the topic statement and then follow the directions provided for the second and third tasks according to prompt you received.
- Biological Sciences: You will be given a series of passages related to General Biology and Organic Chemistry which require you to apply your general knowledge in these areas to the text.
Sample questions for the multiple choice sections and prompts for the writing sample are available on the MCAT website (www.aamc.org/students/mcat/).
Do I need to coordinate my application through a service?
Yes. The American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine Application Service (AACPMAS www.e-aacpmas.org/) is a nonprofit, centralized service to facilitate the process of applying to participating podiatric schools. AACPMAS benefits the applicant by collecting, coordinating, and processing all transcripts and other application materials for the podiatric schools. Most of these schools will not allow direct applications - you must use AACPMAS. The applicant completes the AACPMAS application, and AACPMAS will send copies of your application to each podiatric school you specified on the application.
Do you have any tips for preparing an attractive application?
Filling out applications for these professional schools can be difficult and tedious, but require your best effort. Applications must be filled out completely and correctly or they will be returned to you. Having your application returned for further information delays contact with the admissions offices of your target schools. Pay particular attention to the required one page personal statement. If you chose to participate in the committee interview process, you have already received formal feedback - be sure to revise your personal statement essay! Have someone else assess your essay (i.e. Career Center staff, Writing Center, etc.) after your revision. Remember that you are trying to sell yourself to an admissions committee. Irrelevant details, poor sentence and paragraph structure, incorrect grammar, misspelling, typographical errors, etc. detract from the image you wish to create as their ideal candidate.
Which podiatric medical schools have recently accepted Wittenberg students?
- Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine
- Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine
- Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine
What are some of the podiatric medical programs in the country?
Mean Total MCAT
Arizona Podiatric Medicine Program at Midwestern University
Barry University School of Graduate Medical Sciences
California School of Podiatric Medicine
College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery at Des Moines University
New York College of Podiatric Medicine
Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine
Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine