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What are Chiropodists?

By R. Kayne
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Chiropodists, also known as podiatrists, are medical doctors that specialize in the foot, ankle and lower leg — in laymen’s terms, a foot doctor. While podiatrist is a more common term in North America, chiropodist is used more often in the United Kingdom. The terms refer to the same thing. Chiropodists see patients of all ages, from children to the elderly, and can diagnose and treat a variety of ailments. Usually working out of a hospital or health clinic, chiropodists may also visit nursing homes, schools and other institutions to provide medical care.

There are many reasons to visit a chiropodist. Children with deformities of the feet or an inability to walk correctly, dancers with stress injuries, diabetics with poor circulation and athletes might all require a chiropodist at one time or another. Bunions, planter’s warts, persistent corns or swollen ankles might also lead someone to the chiropodist’s office.

In the US, chiropodists must follow an academic path similar to that of other medical doctors. Typically, this consists of a college degree followed by four years in a doctoral program, capped by two or more years in residency. A chiropodist carries the title, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.).

Chiropodists may have one to three Board certifications. The most basic Board certification indicates a nonsurgical classification, the second Board certification is for surgical foot reconstruction and the third specializes in surgical reconstruction relating to the back part of the foot and ankle. Certifications impact the length of residency, with surgical certifications requiring a longer period. In addition to hands-on residency casework, Board certification for the chiropodist involves rigorous written and oral exams.

In addition to Board certification, a chiropodist must obtain a state license for each state in which he or she practices. Laws differ between states as to whether or not, for example, a chiropodist is allowed to perform surgery on the lower legs. In some states, this falls under the purview of the chiropodist, while others states have more limiting laws.

Chiropodist specialties include pediatric care, nonsurgical orthopedics and practices that revolve solely around surgical work. All of these can be satisfying career paths. As of 2006, there are eight chiropodist colleges in the US, regulated by the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM).

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon13231 — On May 22, 2008

In the USA a podiatrist attends Podiatric medical school which is entirely different than an Allopathic medical school that produces physicians. Podiatrists are not physicians (not M.D.'s.) Their training is specific to problems of the foot. They cannot do a residency in any other medical sub-specialty since they are not physicians.

By seanedward2 — On Apr 30, 2008

I'm directing KISS ME KATE for a theatre at a state park...is chiropodist pronounced sh-iropodist or k-iropodist?

By staceylou50 — On Apr 21, 2008

Hello I was wondering if anyone could answer a couple of questions on Chiropodist working with a service user with alzheimer's for my portfolio.

1.Do you sit and communicate too many residents that suffer from some sort of dementia?

2.When talking to people that suffers with dementia how do you find it?

3.Do you find it hard to communicate with people throughout certain stages of dementia or not?

4.What is your role when you visit the residential home?


By rmctravelers — On Dec 01, 2007

My grandfather was a Chiropodist in Jacksonville, Florida from 1923-1933. His name was Dr. John Wallace. How do we find out where and how he got his license to practice?

By swarnasana — On Oct 26, 2007

Heels of my shoes get wasted more on the outer side. Is there any accessory I can use to stop this?

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