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Podiatrist

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A Podiatrist is a doctor for feet. They give surgical and medical help to people with feet, ankle, and lower leg issues. They perform surgical procedures to help the patient and give advise to what they should do to improve their issues. It takes about a full year of residency to really understand the job environment. They are usually on call and have fairly good pay. The job outlook is also fairly good.

Duties

Podiatrist does basically provide surgical and medical aid to those with foot, ankle, and lower leg issues. They perform surgeries and treat people with problems such as: calluses, ingrown toenails, heel spurs, and arch issues. They listen to their patients questions and concerns and look at the issue at hand. Then they diagnose the issue. They do this through physical exams, lab tests, and x-rays. The treatment may be as easy as putting a shoe insert into the patient's shoe, or as dramatic as surgery [1]. Sometimes, they even use electrical methods. Electrical methods might be through short wave and low voltage current [2]. Sometimes they prescribe medication. If the person has diabetes, the podiatrist may refer the patient to a specialist. Some different branches of podiatrists are: podiatric sports medicine, pediatric care podiatrists, and advanced surgical podiatrists.[1]

Podiatrist in a consultation with a patient.

In podiatric sports medicine they prevent and heal ankles or ankle injuries in athletes. Pediatric care podiatrists focus on children with foot or lower leg issues. Advanced surgical podiatrists mostly perform advanced surgeries[1].

If the podiatrist has their own practice, they will not only spend their time treating patients, but also doing regular business things. This business duties would include managing and hiring employees and doing inventory [1].

Types of Surgeries

There are many different types of surgeries that podiatrists will perform [3].

Bunion surgery- this is an incision on the top or side of the big toe joint. The doctor will then remove or realign soft tissue so that it will relieve pain [3].

Bunionette surgery- Also known as a tailor's bunion. It is similare to bunion surgery, but is on the outside of the foot [3].

Hammertoe Repair- This surgery fixes the abnormality. Most people refer to all different toe abnormalities as hammer toes, when in fact there are four different types of toe abnormality. These four are: hammer toes, claw toes, mallet toes and trigger toes [3].

Heel Spur Surgery- About 80% of Americans that have foot problems and, of those 80% many complain about heel pain. A heel spur is one of the most painful foot problems. It can get so bad that even getting out of bed can hurt [3].

Podiatrists treat common foot and ankle ailments as well as perform more complicated surgeries.

Endoscopic Plantar Fasciotomy- This surgery is used to treat major strain of the plantar fascia. This ligament is a band that runs along the bottom of the foot. when it is sprained it causes pain in the foot [3].

Neuroma Repair-Neuroma pain is normally described as a burning pain in the forefoot [3].

Tarsal Tunnel Repair- Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition involving injury, inflammation, and/or compression of one, or more, of the major nerves in the foot. The area where the nerve damage occurs is the tarsal tunnel [3].

Metatarsal Osteotomy- Distal shortening osteotomy of the lesser metatarsals has been used in the treatment of metatarsalgia [3].

First Metatarsal Joint Replacement-In severe cases of calluses, an IPK can develop. An IPK is an Intractable, meaning that it will not go away, Plantar, meaning bottom of the foot [3].

Digital Fusion-Fusion of the toe is used to correct toe fractures [3].

Repair of Hagland's Deformity-Haglund's Deformity is where the pain and discomfort are on the posterior aspect of the heel at the area of the insertion of the Achilles tendon. The people that have this problem are usually females who where high heels [3].

Nail Matrixectomy for Correction of Ingrown Nails- Ingrown nails may be congenital. They are caused by an overcurvature of the nail, or an imbalance between the width of the nail plate and the nail bed [3].

Laser Surgery- This is used to remove warts [3].

There is also a surgery to fix overlapping toes, removal of ganglions, treatment of ulcers, and diabetic wound care [3].

Residentual Steps

A resident podiatrist will begin to develop skill in surgery forefoot, rearfoot, and ankle surgery, assessment of the indications for surgery, performance of surgery, and post-operative care of the patient [4].

At the end of the first month, a resident will do postoperative check ups with the patient[4].

After the second month as a resident, the resident will able to work independently in the clinic, but still requires some supervision[4].

At the end of the third month of residency, the podiatrist will be able to perform all types of digital and soft tissue surgery, arthroplasties, fusion procedures, and excision of masses utilizing plastic procedures such as z-plasties and flap rotations. By this time the resident also be able to have skill at general medical assessment of the care of the patient. They will be able to make independent decisions on taking care of wounds. He or she should be skilled at giving inpatient consultations with the appropriate supervision. The resident should be very good at patient evaluation. They will formulate independent treatment plans for all types of podiatric surgical problems. [4].

The resident will be independent with different types of foot surgery at the end of six months. They will medically manage acute perioperative patients and see the need for a medical consultation if needed. The resident learns how to interact with medical consultants and is capable of complete medical management of their patients[4].

Throughout the first year, the resident has the experience with the inpatient care of acute infections [4].

Patients with diabetes may develop foot problems that require the care of a podiatrist.

Work Enviornment

Most podiatrists work in offices strictly for podiatry. Others work in group practices or at a hospital. In 2010, about 26% of podiatrists were self employed, 51% were employed by offices or other health practitioners [1].

A podiatrist works full times. Sometimes their offices are open in the evening so that they may accommodate the patient. When working at a hospital they may need to work nights or even long shifts, sometimes on call, or even on weekends [1].

Pay

Median wage is the average wage for an occupation. In 2010, the median wage for a podiatrist was $118,030. The low 10% earned $50,150, and the high 10% earned more than $166,400. Self employed podiatrists tend to earn more than that salaried doctor. The hassle that comes with being self employed is that they need to take care of the cost of running a business and provide benefits for themselves and employees [1].

Job Outlook

The job outlook is great for podiatrists. This specific career field is expected to have a 10-20% increase over the next ten years. Because the elderly population is growing, there are more elderly people who will have foot problems. Another thing is, people are beginning to have more active lifestyles, so they will have more wear and tear. [5]

There are limited amount of colleges of podiatry. There are expected to be more job openings because many podiatrists are retiring in the coming years [1].

Education

High school students that are interested in going into the podiatrist field should take classes such as: algebra, biology, chemistry, English, social studies, geometry, trigonometry, humanities, health occupations/medical professions education, speech, psychology, history, and computer skills [5].

College requirements include: at least 90 semester hours of undergraduate study, and pre-med science courses. Prerequisites for admission into a college of podiatric medicine is a good acceptable grade point average, and a good score on the Medical College Admission Test. A four year program is offered at colleges of podiatric medicine. This program is very similar to that of other schools of medicine. Upon graduation, the student must complete one to three years of a residency program and pass both written and oral exams in order to get a license [5].

In order of be a podiatrist, one must have some very important qualities. They must have critical thinking skills, and must be able to correctly diagnose a patient so they can choose the best way of treatment. Effective healthcare, a podiatrist should be detail oriented. A podiatrist needs to pay attention to their patient’s medical history along with their current condition when diagnosing a problem and choosing the proper treatment. Also a podiatrist requires interpersonal skills: since podiatrists spend a lot of their time interacting with patients. They need to listen well and communicate easily and clearly. They need to be able to tell a patient who is scheduled to go into surgery what to expect and to help calm their fears [1].

Similar Occupations

Some similar occupations include: chiropractors, occupational therapists, optometrists, orthotists and prosthetists, physical therapists, and physicians and surgeons [1].

Video

Dr. Leo Krawetz of Healthy Feet Podiatry, Tampa and Brooksville Florida, performs an ingrown toenail surgery and explains the procedure.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Podiatrists United States Department of Labor. Web. last-updated 6 April 2012. Author unknown.
  2. Author Unknown. Podiatrist Career Planner. Web. Accessed 11 February 2013.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 Author Unknown. Types of Surgery Brooklyn Foot Health Center. Web. Accessed 27 February 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Author UnknownPODIATRIC SURGERY - GOALS & OBJECTIVES PODIATRIC SURGERY - GOALS & OBJECTIVES. Web. Accessed 26 February 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Author unknown. Podiatrist Health Careers Center. Web. Accessed 11 February 2013.