A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine, or a doctor of the lower leg and foot. A podiatrist is not the same as a chiropodist.
A licensed podiatrist in B.C. must have an undergraduate 4-year degree in science and a 4-year degree from an accredited podiatric medical school, pass three qualifying exams, and complete a training program after graduation which must be a three to four year residency program. After completing their education and qualifying exams a podiatrist can apply for registration with the College of Podiatric Surgeons of BC.
A licensed podiatrist may use the titles “podiatrist”, “doctor of podiatric medicine”, “podiatric surgeon”, “foot surgeon” and “surgeon”, “foot doctor” and “doctor”, and variations of these.
What does a podiatrist do?
Podiatrists help you with problems with your foot including the ankle. They provide preventative care and treatment for diseases, disorders and conditions of the foot and lower leg. They diagnose to find out what’s wrong and prescribe and provide treatment. They deal with problems with bone, joint, ligaments, muscles and tendons, and injuries or problems with the foot. These include bunions, neuromas, lesions, hammertoes, painful flat foot, high arches and bone spurs and foot and ankle traumas like fractures or dislocations and soft tissue, muscular and neurological conditions. A podiatrist can also diagnose and treat lower limb conditions like skin and nail problems, corns, calluses and ingrown toenails. Doctors of podiatric medicine perform foot including ankle surgery, and prescribe medications.
Podiatrists often work with high-risk patients, for example people with diabetes, the elderly, and people who need advanced wound care. Podiatrists have very advanced education and skills in wound care that is very important for many diabetic patients especially those who are post surgery or who have chronic infections and ulcers.
Many podiatrists have a general practice. Some are specialists after taking very advanced training and becoming board certified in one or more aspects of podiatry.
How do podiatrists keep their skills up to date?
Registered podiatrists must renew their license with the College of Podiatric Medicine of BC every year. The College requires all practising podiatrists to complete at least 60 hours of continuing medical education every two years. They must show the College proof of their continuing medical education every year.
What happens when I first visit a podiatrist?
Your first visit with a podiatrist will include a medical history and an examination. Once a diagnosis is made, possible treatments will be discussed with you. Usually there will be follow-up appointments and there may be other health professionals involved in your care.
How can I find a podiatrist?
You can make an appointment directly with a podiatrist. There is no need for a referral. Check the website at www.collegepodsbc.org for a list of all podiatrists who are registered and licensed to practice in B.C.
How do I pay for a podiatrist?
Some but not all podiatric services are covered by MSP. Podiatrists may bill you an additional amount. If you are on income assistance, MSP pays for a variety of podiatric services for up to 10 visits a year. For all patients, MSP pays only for surgery up to the maximum scheduled amount. You may have additional insurance coverage if you have extended health benefits or if you are insured through First Nation or Veterans programs.
What if I have concerns about the care I received from a podiatrist?
As a patient you have the right to expect a professional standard of care from your podiatrist. If you think that has not happened, you may raise your concerns with the practitioner. If you wish to obtain advice about practice standards or make a complaint and have a matter investigated, please contact:
College of Podiatric Surgeons of BC
101-850 Harbourside Drive
North Vancouver, BC V7P 0A3
Where can I find more information about a podiatrist?