Students interested in becoming podiatrists have numerous obligations including the development of a strong science foundation and involvement in diverse extracurricular activities such as shadowing, health care exposure, service, leadership, and research. It can be a bit daunting, however, it is possible to do everything you need to do by starting now and working consistently throughout your undergraduate years.
Please read the basic information we have provided on this webpage while recognizing that the majority of support the Prehealth Advising Office provides students is through face-to-face advising appointments. We would be happy to sit down with you to discuss your journey to becoming a successful podiatrist and answer any questions you may have.
Podiatry graduate programs do not require or favor ANY specific major. We encourage you to consider a major that interests you and one that will provide you an alternative pathway if you change your mind about podiatry as a career. There are many facets to practicing podiatry and ideally your undergraduate degree will prove functional with whatever career you pursue. For example, if your ultimate goal is to own your own podiatry practice, a degree in business administration could prove beneficial. No matter what you choose to major in, you will be most prepared if you counsel with both your major academic advisor and your pre-health advisor on a regular basis.Find a Degree Major Exploration
The most common question we get asked is “what classes do I need to take to prepare for podiatry school?” This question is fairly straightforward to answer for podiatry students, because school requirements are more streamlined than requirements for other health professional schools. Below is a table of required courses for podiatry school. Each school lists the courses below as requirements, but each school varies in their recommended courses. In order to be most successful, we encourage you to do your own research to determine which courses (in addition to those listed below) would be beneficial for you to take based on which schools you are planning to apply to. The AACPM maintains a helpful webpage to assist you in the process of choosing schools. You can access it here.
A common misconception students have is that medical schools focus only on your GPA and MCAT score. While those metrics are certainly an important part of your application, they are not enough on their own to get you into medical school. Your extracurricular preparation is a vitally important aspect of your application. To help you best prepare, we have broken down extracurricular activities into the five areas listed below.
Do you know how much paperwork is involved in the daily life of a podiatrist? Can you handle the sights/sounds/smells associated with practicing podiatric medicine? Do you know what kind of problems face podiatrists on a day-to-day basis? Shadowing provides you with important and realistic exposure to the profession and can help you answer some of the important questions listed above- plus, it is required for admission to podiatry school.
Many students ask, “How do I get started with shadowing?” Start with people you know. Do you have any family members or friends that are podiatrists? Use your connections. If you don’t know any podiatrists, don’t worry! Many students call offices directly to find shadowing opportunities, and generally podiatrists are happy to support the up-and-coming healthcare workforce by allowing students to shadow them.
In order to be adequately prepared for podiatry school, you’ll need some experience interacting with patients during the years leading up to your application. You can gain patient exposure many different ways (CNA, EMT, Hospice, medical assisting, etc.), and your exposure can be paid or volunteer experience.
However you choose to approach direct patient exposure, be sure to choose something that is meaningful to you.
Oh no- the “R” word! While it is not required for admission to podiatry school, undergraduate research is important in your preparation because it demonstrates that you have an intimate understanding of the scientific method. Being involved in research will help you develop critical thinking skills and will allow you to be an informed consumer of new research studies that will be presented to you as a podiatrist. Plus, there’s no better way to solidify concepts you learn in class than actively applying them in the lab.
Becoming a successful podiatrist includes developing a service-oriented outlook. Because of this, podiatry programs are looking for how you have developed this character trait through various activities. Many health professionals will tell you that service plays an imperative role in their influence on the community and their ability to help their patients.
Your service and volunteer repertoire need not be limited to health-related exposure; rather, find things that you are passionate about and be mindful of volunteer and service opportunities that arise.
All health professionals are leaders to some degree and optometry schools appreciate students with these skills. There is no one way to gain leadership experience, but some common ways are getting involved in a club and participating in club administration, student government, working as a tutor, TA, SI, etc. Remember, demonstrating leadership doesn’t always come with a “title”! You can demonstrate leadership many different ways and through many different activities.