By: Kaustov Kashyap
Podiatric medicine, as it is medically called, is a branch of medical sciences primarily focusing on the study of human movement, particularly the foot and ankle. As a podiatrist, one is responsible for treating corns, calluses, bunions, ingrown toenails, and arch problems; performing surgery; prescribing drugs and physical therapy; working with ankle and foot injuries and infections; correcting deformities by using plaster casts and strappings; fitting corrective shoe inserts or orthotics. Being educated and trained under state-of-the-art techniques in surgery, orthopedics, physical medicine, dermatology, and rehabilitation, a podiatrist plays a major role in detecting serious health problems which otherwise go unnoticed most of the times. Given the fact that people are now concentrating more on their feet, the career of a foot specialist is one of the sought-after options to excel in. These healthcare professionals can, undoubtedly, embark you on a flourishing and fruitful life ahead.
Podiatrists can be involved in different branches of the field, such as specializations in wound care, paediatrics, sports medicine, diabetes, and surgery. They analyze the conditions of the feet and diagnose any ailments or disorders that may be present. They also provide treatment for these ailments through exercises, and special footwear, and improve the patient’s mobility. They are responsible for performing foot surgeries if required, which can range from fracture repairs to correcting foot deformities. It is a growing field in medicine that offers good career opportunities.
Scope of Podiatry in India and Abroad
Employment in the podiatry sector is expected to grow by 6% between 2018 to 2028. As people age, more issues and pains arise concerning the feet and legs. Due to this, there is an increased demand for podiatrists. Podiatry is a well-growing sector with good employment opportunities.
It has a very wide scope in India, as well as abroad because people all over the world suffer from ailments of the legs and feet. The increasing rates of other chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity can also contribute to these ailments, thus creating further demand. Further, as there are only limited colleges that offer podiatry courses within the country and outside, the job prospects are good because there will not be a cut-throat competition.
Eligibility Criteria (UG & PG) of Podiatry
Bachelor’s- Interested candidates:
· Must have qualified 10+2 level from a recognized educational institution.
· Musthave pursued Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics/Biology at the 10+2 level. English is a compulsory subject.
· Must achieve a minimum 50% aggregate score.
Master’s- Interested candidates:
· Must possess an MBBS degree.
· Must have achieved 45-55% aggregate in the MBBS level.
· Must have finished the 1-year internship.
Entrance Exams for Podiatry
Any MBBS student must mandatorily write NEET. After filing an application for NEET and completing the registration procedures, they will receive their admit card and will be allowed to attend the exam. These NEET scores will determine their entry into any institution for podiatry. The admissions are merit-based, and the better their NEET score, the better the institution of study.
After this selection is done, the students are called for counseling in order of their scores. They are then asked to select their preferred college from the choices provided to them, which depends on the NEET score.
After completing MBBS, the student can pursue DPM from any institution offering it. These institutions have their entrance examinations, which must be passed for entry. They can also be admitted based on the NEET scores. After completing the DPM, they have to apply for a license to practice podiatry as one cannot practice medicine without a license.
· NEET: The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test is overseen by the National Testing Agency. This is the entrance examination for all students that wish to study medicine or dentistry courses in India. Entry is given to both government and private colleges based on this test. This test contains 180 questions with negative markings.
Required Skillset for Podiatry
Podiatry is a specialized branch of medicine which means that other than having strong technical knowledge and experience in the field, some other extra skills are required for these students. These skills include:
Interpersonal Skills: A DPM student must have excellent interpersonal skills. These doctors work in close contact with the patients and therefore, must be good at interacting with them. They must be able to explain medical terminology and conditions in layman’s terms. They may also have to work in teams, especially during surgery, which makes good communication and interpersonal skills important.
Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is another important aspect of podiatry. DPM’s must be able to think and reason critically and innovatively. They must be able to quickly diagnose ailments of the feet and discover solutions for them.
Calm Demeanour: Podiatrists must have a calm demeanour. Since they work closely with patients, they must be calm and rational and help soothe and comfort the patients while completing their job.
Detail-Oriented: A podiatrist must be detail-oriented to provide accurate diagnoses and treatment. They must take into account a patient’s medical history and other factors before deciding on a treatment plan.
Job Profiles&Average Salary
Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) students are offered tons of job opportunities and profiles along with satisfactory salary packages. Jobs are offered by the government and the private sector. Some of the main job profiles in this sector include:
Podiatrist: Podiatrists analyze and assess the conditions of the feet of their patients and diagnose any ailments or disabilities. They also come up with treatment plans for these ailments. They are trained to perform surgical operations, if and when required. The average salary package in this job profile may be around Rs. 11-21 lakhs p.a. (Approx.)
Podo-dermatologist: Podo Dermatologists collect skin samples from the feet and conduct tests to analyze them. They come up with various diagnoses and provide treatments based on the tests. They also provide advice and skincare tips for the feet.The average salary package in this job profile may be around Rs. 7-11 lakhs p.a. (Approx.)
Podo-paediatrist: A podo-paediatrist studies children’s feet to identify any early stages of foot deformities or disabilities. They help children recover from deformities in the early stages itself through massages, exercises, and in extreme cases, surgery.The average salary package in this job profile may be around Rs. 5-8 lakhs p.a. (Approx.)
Podiatric Physician: A podiatric physician also diagnoses different ailments after analyzing the feet of the patients. They recommend treatments to the patients and help with some basic exercises and massages. However, they are not qualified to perform surgery.The average salary package in this job profile may be around Rs. 3-5lakhs p.a. (Approx.)
Rheumatologists: They work for the treatment of rheumatism and its conditions, such as joint pains, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, and osteoporosis. They also treat soft-tissue injuries and sports injuries.The average salary package in this job profile may be around Rs. 12-19 lakhs p.a. (Approx.)
Popular Podiatry Colleges/Institutes in India are:
· Dr. P S I Medical College, Gannavaram
· Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital, Bangalore
· Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Kochi
· Diabetic Foot Society of India, Ahmedabad
· Dr. M.G.R. Medical University, Chennai
(The author is a HR & Career Consultant)
A Sparkling Career in Podiatry
By: Kaustov Kashyap