Everybody knows that medicine is one of the most future-proof fields of study. After all, technology may change and trends will fluctuate, but everyone has a body and, sooner or later, those bodies will need medical attention.
Although it may not leap to mind when one imagines a doctor, podiatric physicians are among the most important types of medical practitioners. Changes in the American lifestyle have forced people to pay more attention to the quality of their feet. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects an increase in positions for podiatric physicians over the next year.
To be sure, medical schools train physicians to treat every part of the human body. And every medical school has its concentrations, through which future doctors become specialists in a certain field. But those who want to be on the cutting edge of research and innovation in a discipline will be best served by going to a school devoted to that science.
Future podiatrists may have fewer choices than those studying dentistry or chiropractic medicine, but the schools make up for their lack of quantity with impressive quality. Each of the nine podiatry schools available in the United States has been accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine(AACPM). Furthermore, they all offer faculties comprised of professionals with hands-on experience as podiatrists and partnerships with local clinics, in which students can begin practicing their skills.
In fact, all of the nine podiatric schools are of such high quality, we could not rank them for this list. Instead, we’ll go over the many benefits they each offer, so you can make the best decision about your first steps toward a career in podiatric.
Midwestern University Arizona College of Podiatric Medicine (Glendale, AZ)
As part of the private school’s Arizona campus, Midwestern University’s College of Podiatric Medicine equips students to be the next generation of podiatric professionals. In addition to teaching the fundamentals with their first-class curriculum, MUA’s College of Podiatric Medicine also values patient care and community service. The school trains its practitioners to be both knowledgeable and caring.
They develop these people skills while volunteering in the school’s multispecialty and therapy clinics, which serve the community of Glendale while giving students hands-on experience in podiatry. Likewise, the school features a faculty consisting of accomplished practitioners, with a real history of success in the field.
To enjoy these remarkable benefits, students must meet the program’s minimum requirements. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.75 and a competitive MCAT score. However, given the school’s emphasis on the whole person, MUA’s College of Podiatric Medicine looks beyond mere numbers. Admissions counselors also take into consideration service to the community and letters of recommendation, which are not required but are accepted.
Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine (Miami, FL)
Founded in 1985, Barry University’s School of Podiatric Medicine is the first podiatry school in the U.S. to be part of a larger university. Over those twenty-five-plus years, the school has trained more than 1000 practitioners.
The BU School of Podiatric Medicine emphasizes small-group education, limiting each year’s class to only 60 – 65 students. The school particularly prides itself on the diversity of its student body, efforts that have earned them high rankings on the U.S. News & World Report lists of schools in the South. Students not only learn under a faculty of practicing health professionals but also gain hands-on experience in one of the school’s eight clinics.
But perhaps the best reason to study podiatry at Barry University is their Yucatan Project, established in 1988. To serve the children crippled by Hurricane Gilbert, the School of Podiatric Medicine has sent third- and fourth-year students on mission trips. These students not only get an opportunity to expand their skills but also make a real difference for those in need.
Samuel Merritt University California School of Podiatric Medicine (Oakland, CA)
As this list shows, there aren’t many dedicated podiatric medical schools in the U.S. But back when the California School of Podiatric Medicine (CSPM) was founded in 1914, it was the only one. As such, CSPM is responsible for training more podiatric physicians than any other school in the country.
These future physicians gain their experience working in one of CSPM’s learning centers, founded in St. Mary’s Medical Center, Seton Medical Center, the Veterans Affairs San Francisco Medical Center, and many others. The training students receive in these clinics advance the school’s core mission of serving the underprivileged communities in the Bay area.
In these clinics, students practice the core of CSPM’s approach. In addition to the technical skills, they learn from the school’s accomplished faculty, students also gain the soft skills that the program emphasizes. Skills in observation, communication, patient care, and behavior receive just as much attention as do the anatomical concerns of podiatry.
Des Moines University College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery (Des Moines, IA)
“Hands-on, relevant, and real-world.” Those three ideas encapsulate the core of the program at DMU’s College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery. Everything that students learn from the college works to create practitioners who provide immediate improvement to their patient’s quality of life.
As one of the three colleges in the private institution Des Moines University, the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery maintains high levels of graduation, including 94.4% of students matriculating in 2015-2016. From 2018-2020, 92% of the college’s graduates passed Part 1 of the APMLE their first time taking the test, 99% passed APMLE Part 2, and 98% passed APMLE Part 2 CPSE. Perhaps most importantly, the school boasts a 100% residency placement rate.
The graduate’s success can be attributed in part to the experience students gain in the university’s Simulation Center, in which they practice on cutting-edge mannequins while handling real-world clinical scenarios. Third-year students transition to real patients while working in the Foot and Ankle clinic, allowing them to study under local podiatric physicians.
Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine (Kent, OH)
One of the oldest podiatric colleges in the country, KSU’s College of Podiatric Medicine offers far more options than many of the other entries in this article. Future practitioners participate in various student groups, including the Ohio Podiatric Medical Student Association, the American Association of Women in Podiatry, and the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. They can also continue the school’s long-running sports tradition by competing in intramural soccer, golf, and flag football teams.
But, of course, the real reason to study podiatric medicine at KSU is the remarkable collection of resources the school offers. In addition to a podiatric medical skills lab and its histology and microbiology labs, KSU possesses a full-featured anatomy lab. The lab includes a Sky-Eye overhead camera to broadcast surgeries and touch-screen computers at each lab station.
Third-year students work in the college’s eight clinics and partner hospitals, including the St. Vincent Charity Hospital and the Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Community Health Clinics. The clinical turns prepare students for their fourth-year externships, in which they complete their studies at institutions throughout the country.
New York College of Podiatric Medicine (New York, NY)
The second-largest podiatric school in the nation, the New York College of Podiatric Medicine has no intention of remaining still. Later this year, the school will merge with the Touro College and University System, adding to the already remarkable support it provides its students. This expansion will bolster NYCPM’s international plans, which involve exchange programs with universities in Canada and Poland.
The school set the standard for the curriculum followed by most of the instructions in this article, with classroom learning for the first years, clinical rotations in year three, and year four clerkships. But NYCPM stands out for the quality of the centers in which students will gain their real-world experience, including the Foot Center of New York and teaching hospitals such as the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.
Currently, the school graduates 25% of all working podiatrists in the United States. Looking at NYCPM’s future plans, we can only expect that number to grow.
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science Dr. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine (Chicago, IL)
As you would expect, RFUMS’s Dr. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine equips its students with the information that they need. But the college also emphasizes a holistic approach with its interprofessional education program. Interprofessional education allows students within the College of Podiatric Medicine to learn from those in other disciplines, and vice versa. The college has found that interprofessional education improves patient healthcare outcomes and better prepares students for actual hospital settings.
Students gain this experience while working in the college’s Interprofessional Community Clinic in northern Chicago. In the clinic, future practitioners not only practice podiatry on real patients, but they also create partnerships with pharmacists, psychologists, and other medical professionals.
Students also advance innovation goals as part of the Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research(CLEAR). Founded in 2004, CLEAR is an interdisciplinary program designed to help students understand the human body better and provide advanced treatment for patients experiencing complications related to diabetes.
Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine (Philadelphia, PA)
All of the schools on this list have excellent faculty, well-apportioned clinics, and connections with local hospitals. But only TU’s School of Podiatric Medicine hosts the Shoe Museum, a testament to the study of the human foot that displays approximately 900 pairs of shoes.
Those looking for a more technical study of the human foot will also find much to appreciate at TUSPM. Not only does the school partner with one of the largest universities in the nation and has an extensive podiatric library, but it also works with Temple’s comprehensive health system. TUSPM students perform clinical rotations in the Foot & Ankle Institute that serves approximately 40,000 patients each year.
Future podiatrists with ambitious research agendas can work in Temple’s Gait Study Center. Practitioners working in the Gait Study Center use the laboratory to study lower extremity biomechanics. Collaborations between clinicians and experts in biomechanics work to find exciting new solutions to their patients’ needs.
Western University College of Podiatric Medicine (Pomona, CA)
Starting with 38 students in 2009, Western University College of Podiatric Medicine has quickly established itself as one of the nation’s best podiatry schools. Of course, the school was off to a good start, thanks to its first Dean, Lawrence B. Harkless, considered by many to be the father of diabetic foot care.
WUCPM has built on Harkless’s lead to create a school that embodies the core values of compassion, humility, integrity, truth, quality, and service. These values stem from the school’s focus on real-world case studies and non-textbook critical thinking, qualities that future podiatrists develop through interprofessional learning with fellow medical students in the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific.
Students gain hands-on experience doing clinical rotations at affiliated hospitals, including the Olive View UCLA Medical Center and the Veterans’ Association Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
With such state-of-the-art facilities, WUCPM can an expensive place to study. However, thanks to a grant from the company Osteomed, WUCPM is one of the few podiatry schools with an endowed scholarship fund.