Are Podiatrists Called Doctors?

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Marrickville Podiatry focuses on preventing, diagnosing, and treating conditions in the foot, ankle, and lower leg. However, podiatrists are not allowed to practice medicine in all states. Some states require podiatrists to become licensed as physicians, while other states permit them to practice medicine in addition to podiatric sports medicine and surgery.

In these states, podiatrists operate under a limited scope of practice, meaning they can only treat certain conditions related to their patient’s feet. While these doctors provide several services, they perform surgery only when all other treatment options have been exhausted.

Podiatrists also have different educational backgrounds depending on the state in which they practice. Podiatrists who wish to become licensed in New York, for example, must first complete a bachelor’s degree at an accredited college of podiatric medicine. They must then pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination Parts I and II and part III of the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination in Podiatry.

What Are the Differences Between Podiatrists and Doctors?

When comparing the education of podiatrists to that of doctors, you will find that both receive a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in their respective fields. The doctorate received by both is the Doctor of Medicine degree (MD) for doctors and the Doctor of Podiatry degree (DPod) for podiatrists.

According to a 2012 study published in Medical Education Online, these are the main differences you will find between a podiatrist and a doctor:


Podiatrists generally receive their medical training in other countries (Canada and Australia). In contrast, doctors receive their medical training in the U.S. They take a licensing exam tailored for those who have received their professional education outside the U.S. They must then pass the Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) to gain licensure.

Scope of Practice

In states where podiatrists do not have the full scope of practice rights, they are generally limited to treating only foot and ankle conditions.


A podiatrist’s education is a minimum of six and a maximum of seven years after high school. Training can include undergraduate study, graduate study, and four to six years of professional study that leads to either an MS or DPM degree. Doctors receive their education through a minimum of three to nine years in residency training after graduating from medical school.


In states where podiatrists have the full scope of practice rights, they may send a patient to another professional who can provide specialized care if it is needed. These other medical professionals could include doctors and physical therapists.

However, in states where podiatrists do not have the full scope of practice, podiatrists are generally limited to the types of treatment they can perform. In these states, a patient who requires surgery must be referred to a doctor for an elective procedure such as painless foot surgery.


Podiatrists often establish private practices but also work in hospitals and other health care facilities. Doctors may practice either individually or within larger groups such as clinics and hospitals.

While doctors may not have the same training as podiatrists, they practice medicine in all 50 states. This allows doctors to become a good source for other medical problems besides the health issues related to your feet.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. News & World Report, podiatrists have a higher median income than that of family and general practitioners ($166,490 vs. $160,700). This is largely because podiatrists, like other specialists, often have to deal with more complex cases (such as diabetes and gout). In contrast, family practitioners generally deal with more routine issues such as common colds.


Doctors can choose to pursue specialty certifications in podiatry. However, only board-certified podiatric physicians (DPM) are considered specialists in foot and ankle medicine. Podiatrists may also become a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (FACFAS), but this is optional.

Podiatrists are not doctors, but they do have the same skills as their M.D. counterparts when diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the feet, ankles, or lower legs. In many cases, podiatrists can help diagnose and treat these problems without needing an expensive trip to see your physician because they use advanced tools such as X-rays, MRI’s and ultrasounds, which allow them to quickly pinpoint problems with joints, muscles, and bones in any part of your body – even those hard-to-reach areas like the back.

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