Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPMs), also known as podiatrists, are podiatric physicians and surgeons qualified by their education and training to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. Podiatrists are uniquely qualified among medical professionals to treat the foot and ankle based on their education, training, and experience.
Podiatrists are defined as physicians by the federal government and in most states. DPMs receive medical education and training comparable to medical doctors, including four years of undergraduate education, four years of graduate podiatric medical education at one of nine accredited podiatric medical colleges and three years of hospital residency training. Within the field of podiatry, practitioners can focus on many different specialty areas, including surgery, sports medicine, biomechanics, geriatrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, or primary care.
Most practicing APMA members are board certified. Certification is considered to be an earned credential for those podiatrists who have achieved certain levels of skill and ability based upon completion of specific advanced training and clinical experience and examination. The American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery (ABFAS) is the certifying board for the specialty area of foot and ankle surgery. The American Board of Podiatric Medicine (ABPM) is the certifying board for the specialty areas of podiatric orthopedics and primary podiatric medicine.
All practicing APMA members are licensed by the state in which they practice podiatric medicine, or, in the case of employment by the federal government, licensed in at least one state. Members are obligated to follow a strict professional code of ethics set forth by APMA. As members of the association, podiatrists are afforded many benefits at the national and local level. Nationally, the association provides members with a cohesive platform from which to advocate for podiatric physicians on all issues affecting foot and ankle health. Locally, membership provides a network of peers and resources offered by each state component society.
Founded in 1912, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), headquartered in Bethesda, MD, is the leading resource for foot and ankle health information. Currently, the organization represents the vast majority of the estimated 15,000 podiatrists in the country. In addition to the national headquarters, APMA boasts 53 state component locations throughout the United States and its territories, as well as affiliated specialty societies.
APMA’s staff, comprised of approximately 60 professionals, is dedicated to promoting foot and ankle health, member service, and professional excellence. Looking toward the future, APMA will continue to advance the growth and stability of podiatric medicine by increasing nationwide awareness of foot and ankle health through public education and legislative advocacy.