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Pre-Medical Preparation at UHMānoa: Podiatric Medicine

(Text compiled from the websites of the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine, American Podiatric Medicial Association, and the UHM 2013-2014 Catalog.)

Podiatric programs offered in Hawai'i: None

Podiatric D.P.M. Programs
Prerequisites for Admission
What makes a strong candidate?
Entrance Exam
The Application Process
Additional Information
Downloadable Brochure

Medical doctors, or physicians, are highly trained healthcare professionals who perform medical examinations, diagnose illnesses, prescribe drugs, and treat patients suffering from injury or disease.

Physicians serve in all types of communities, from rural to inner city, and in a wide variety of settings, from private practice to clinics and hospitals. They also work in specialized settings, such as homeless shelters, schools, sports programs, prisons, nursing homes, third-world countries, and the armed forces. About one-third of the nation’s physicians are generalists, or “primary care” doctors, although that percentage is declining as more physicians choose to become specialists. Generalists include fields such as internists, family physicians, and pediatricians. Specialists focus on a particular system or part of the body; examples include neurologists, hematologists, cardiologists, and podiatrists, to name only a few.

Physicians also conduct research, studying and developing new treatments for disease, teach in academia, sharing their skills by educating medical students, and work for health organizations, pharmaceutical companies, medical technology manufacturing, health insurance companies, and in corporations with health and safety programs.

Related Professions: physician assistant, nursing, medical technologist, dentistry, optometry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, biomedical research, biomedical engineering, and hospital administration.

There are five primary fields in medicine:  Allopathic, Chiropractic, Naturopathic, Osteopathic, and Podiatric, all of which diagnose and treat disease.

  • Allopathic physicians (M.D.s, Medical Doctors, or Doctors of Medicine) focus on diagnosing and treating disease; treatments include prescription medication and surgery.  Allopathic medicine offers both primary care and specializations; most M.D.s choose to specialize.
  • Chiropractic physicians (D.C.s, Doctors of Chiropracty, or Doctors of Chiropractic Medicine) focus on the promotion of health through the alignment of the musculoskeletal structure. D.C.s do not use invasive procedures such as surgery.
  • Naturopathic physicians (N.D.s, Doctors of Naturopathy, or Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine) focus on maintaining physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness through lifestyle choices and natural remedies such as acupuncture, reflexology, homeopathy, etc. D.N.s do not use invasive procedures such as surgery.
  • Osteopathic physicians (D.O.s, Doctors of Osteopathy, or Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine) focus on diagnosing and treating disease with an emphasis on primary care, holistic evaluation, and the prevention of disease. In addition to the core medical training, D.O.s receive 200 hours of training in osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), a hands-on therapy used to diagnose and treat illness and injury. The scope of practice for M.D.s and D.O.s is very similar. Osteopathic medicine offers both primary care and specializations; most D.O.s choose to work in primary care.
  • Podiatric physicians(D.P.M.s, or Doctors of Podiatric Medicine) focus on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases concerning the foot and ankle. Podiatric medicine is an early specialization of allopathic medicine and includes the prescription of medications and surgery.

Podiatric physicians (D.P.M.s, or Doctors of Podiatric Medicine) are highly trained healthcare professionals who strive to improve the overall health and well being of their patients by preventing and diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medication, and treating conditions associated with the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. Because the human foot has a complex interrelation with the rest of the body, it can be one of the first areas to show signs of serious conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Podiatrists are often the first to detect symptoms of these disorders and are considered front-line healthcare providers.

Podiatric medicine is an early specialization of allopathic medicine and includes the prescription of medications and surgery. Although podiatric medicine is already an established medical specialty, podiatrists can choose to further specialize in a particular area of podiatric medicine, such as surgery, sports medicine, biomechanics, geriatrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, or primary care.

Doctors of podiatric medicine are licensed to practice in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, to treat the foot and its related or governing structures by medical, surgical, or other means.

Podiatrists serve in a variety of settings, including private practice, HMOs, hospitals, faculties of schools of medicine, commissioned officers in the armed forces, the department of Veterans Affairs, and in municipal health departments.   Many podiatrists are also members of group medical practices. 

Related Careers: reflexologists, athletic trainers, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, and allopathic physicians/surgeons.

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Podiatric D.P.M. Programs

Becoming a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.) requires approximately 10-12 years of education:

Bachelor degree (~4 years) or minimum of three years/90 semester hours of college credit;
            Podiatric school (4 years); and
            Residency (3 years)

The curriculum for the DPM degree includes classroom instruction and laboratory work in the basic medical sciences followed by study of clinical sciences and patient care. Students in their third and fourth year of podiatric medical training participate in a three to four week clerkship rotation. The first four years of podiatric medical school are similar to traditional allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) programs, but with more of a focus on foot, ankle, and lower extremity problems and less on topics such as embryology and pediatrics.  Due to the similarities of the programs, some podiatric schools are integrated into MD or DO schools for the first two years.

The National Podiatric Board of Medicine Examination is taken in two parts: Part I covers the basic medical sciences and is taken after the second year; Part II covers clinical skills and is taken in the spring of the fourth year.

Upon graduation from podiatric medical school, new podiatric physicians are required to complete three years in postgraduate residency training. Rotations in podiatry cover all the main areas of medicine, such as emergency, pediatric, internal medicine, orthopedic, general surgery, and podiatry. For entry-level residency programs, students apply through the matching program, the Centralized Application Service for Podiatric Residencies (CASPR).

Podiatric physicians may also become certified in one or both specialty areas: surgery or primary care and orthopedics.

After completing their residency programs, podiatric physicians must then be licensed for their state or jurisdiction of practice.  Most states will also require continuing podiatric medical education for license renewal. All podiatric physicians must be licensed to practice.

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Prerequisites for Admission

Most importantly, remember that requirements vary from school to school!  You must research to create a list of all the prerequisites you will need to apply to the schools you are interested in attending.

The following UHM courses are commonly required for admission to podiatric schools:

BIOL 171/L and BIOL 172/L
Introduction to Biology I and II
CHEM 161/L and CHEM 162/L
General Chemistry I and II
CHEM 272/L and CHEM 273/L
Organic Chemistry I and II
PHYS 151/L and PHYS 152/L
(or PHYS 170/L and 272/L)
College Physics I and II
(or General Physics I and II)
ENG 100 and higher
Composition I and higher (2 courses)

Additional requirements may include additional biology courses (e.g. biochemistry, genetics), mathematics, psychology, communication studies, etc.  

For the MCAT2015, the following courses are also required:

MATH 140
PSY 100
Survey of Psychology
PSY 212*

Survey of Research Methods*

PSY/SOCS 225 or ECON 321*
SOC 100
Introduction to Sociology
BIOC 241 or higher

*These courses may not be required for the MCAT2015, depending on what material is covered in PSY 100.

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What makes a strong candidate?

Schools need to be certain that the students they accept will be capable of completing the academic curriculum and are likely to become good podiatric physicians.

Are you capable of completing the academic curriculum?
            Admissions committees are looking for students who have:

  • completed the prerequisites
  • a high overall GPA
  • a high science/math GPA
  • performed well on the MCAT (or DAT or GRE)
  • balanced their course load so it is challenging yet realistic

Are you likely to become a good podiatrist?
            Admissions committees look for students who have:

  • a broad liberal arts education that includes the humanities and social sciences
  • experience in the field and with what podiatric medicine entails
  • a well-rounded life that balances academics, community service, social activities, and personal interests (hobbies, skills, sports, etc.)
  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • strong letters of recommendation/evaluation
  • excellent interpersonal skills
  • demonstrated empathy, compassion, and a commitment to public service
  • high ethical and moral standards and a conscientious work ethic
  • demonstrated maturity (judgment, responsibility, dependability)
  • potential for professionalism

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Researching Schools

There are now 9 podiatric medical schools in the U.S., each one unique in its mission, philosophy, criteria, and strengths.  Applicants can research schools using the Podiatric Medical College Information Book.

Although there are resources that “rank” schools, the rankings are rarely pertinent for podiatric programs or for individual applicants.  More important is whether there is a good match between you and your school.

To find schools that are a good match for you (PAC peer advisors can help with this process):

  1. Assess your individual strengths and weaknesses, your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
  2. Create your “Short List” by categorizing the schools into “Reach,” “Match,” and “Safety.”   Next, rank the schools by preference, and then decide how many schools you can afford to apply to.  Be sure to apply to schools in all 3 categories (“Reach,” “Match,” and “Safety.”)

If possible, visit the schools to see their facilities, talk to Admissions Directors, and talk with current students.

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Entrance exam

Almost all podiatric medical schools require applicants to take a standardized test called the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). However, New York College of Podiatric Medicine and Temple University School of Podiatric Medicinewill accept the MCAT or Dental Admission Test (DAT).

Preparation:  Your most important preparation for the MCAT or DAT is your undergraduate courses, many of which sharpen your writing and verbal reasoning skills.  Remember that your verbal reasoning score is not only the most accurate predictor of how well you will do in medical school, but also the most difficult score to improve.

MCAT Overview:  The MCAT assesses your knowledge and skills in Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, and Writing. The test requires ~5 hours to complete, and entails ~144 multiple choice questions and two 30-minute essays. The MCAT is administered in a computer-based format, and is offered about twenty times each year.

MCAT Scoring:  Writing samples are scored by letter grades ranging from J to T, with T being the highest; the other three sections are each scored 1-15, for a possible total of 45. 

Click Here for the MCAT Overview

Click here for the MCAT2015 Overview

DAT Summary: The DAT assesses your knowledge and skills in Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning.  The test requires ~4 hours to complete, and entails ~280 multiple choice questions.  The DAT is administered in a computer-based format and is offered almost any day of the year.

DAT Scoring:  Each of the four sections receives its own score on a range of 1-30, with 30 being highest. The four scores are averaged to create a composite score using the same range. Scores of 18 are average; scores of 18 or higher are considered competitive for most dental schools.

Click Here for the DAT Overview

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The Application Process

There are two general steps in applying to podiatric medical schools:  the primary application and the interviews.

  1. The primary application must be filed with the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine Application Service (AACPMAS), which is a centralized application system. Once the application is complete, AACPMAS forwards it to whichever schools the student designated.
  2. Interviews: After reviewing primary applications, podiatric schools invite promising applicants to interview.  Applicants are responsible for all costs incurred while interviewing, including airfare, lodging, professional attire, ground transportation, and meals.

Traffic Rules: Although the application process varies from school to school, AACPM has established “traffic rules” to ensure fairness for all concerned. The rules are available online and stipulate both schools’ and applicants’ rights and responsibilities during the application process. Before applying, applicants should become familiar with the traffic rules found on the AACPM website at: .


  • The more you know about the school, the better your chances of being accepted.
  • Most application questions can be answered by reading the Podiatric Medical College Information Book.
  • Contact individual schools’ Admissions Offices to find out how they handle:
      • Advanced Placement (AP) credits
      • International Baccalaureate (IB) credits
      • College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits
      • military credits
      • courses taken at a community college
      • non-U.S. coursework
      • courses taken for credit/no credit instead of a grade
      • residency issues
      • time limits on prerequisite science courses

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    Additional Information

    UH Mānoa’s Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center (PAC) has reference books, lists of volunteer opportunities, academic planning worksheets, and one-on-one advising by peers who can help you prepare for and apply to podiatric schools.

    UHM's Pre-Medical Association (PMA)
    UHM's Biology Club

    Podiatric Medical College Information Book for                   
    2012 Entering Class

    available in PAC

    AACPMAS Application Service                                       

    Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)                     
    MCAT2015 Information & Preview Guide
    MCAT2015 for Admins: including links to the Course Mapping Tool, Webinars, Sociology and Psychology Textbook Resources, iCollaborate, and Q-UPP

    Dental Admission Test          

    Graduate Record Examinations                        
    American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM)
    American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA)
    Medical Professions Admission Guide: Strategy for Success by NAAHP available in PAC
    Preparing for Graduate School by the Honors Program

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