Foot and ankle surgeons are the surgical specialists of the podiatric profession. They provide complete medical and surgical care for a variety of conditions that affect people of every age.
After completing undergraduate education, the foot and ankle surgeon completes the four-year curriculum at an accredited podiatric medical school, graduating with the degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM). Although identical in length to programs at medical schools for osteopathic doctors (DOs) and medical doctors (MDs), and covering basic and clinical sciences, the podiatric medical school curriculum also provides intensive focus on conditions of the foot and ankle.
After graduation from podiatric medical school, the foot and ankle surgeon enters a postgraduate residency in podiatric medicine and surgery approved by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education. These residencies are similar to, and are often integrated with, residencies for MDs and DOs, and provide training in general medicine, general surgery and surgical specialties. The critical difference is the higher volume of cases and time focused on the foot and ankle in residency programs for podiatric surgeons. Currently, the majority of podiatric residency programs are three years in length.
After completing their residencies, foot and ankle surgeons may receive additional training in specific areas of foot and ankle surgery through fellowships.
The intensive process leading to certification by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery (ABFAS) includes four years of postdoctoral clinical experience, completion of an approved residency, a large number of surgeries representing a diverse range of foot and ankle surgical procedures and successful completion of an extensive two-part certification process, in addition to submitting surgical case logs. ABFAS is recognized by the Joint Committee on the Recognition of Specialty Boards of the Council on Podiatric Medical Education.
Foot and ankle surgeons provide comprehensive medical and surgical care for a wide spectrum of foot and ankle conditions, including common to complex disorders and injuries that affect people of all ages. They are uniquely qualified to detect the early stages of diseases that exhibit warning signs in the lower extremities, such as diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular disease, and they manage foot conditions that may pose an ongoing threat to a patient's overall health.
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