Why You Should Consider a Career as a Podiatrist After Your Military Service
If you’ve served as a podiatrist or as an adjunct with the medical community in the armed services, you should consider choosing a career as a podiatrist in civilian life.
A podiatrist is also known as a “foot and ankle surgeon” and is a physician that studies and treats disorders associated with the ankle, lower extremity, and foot.
Known as Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) in the U.S., these physicians normally undergo four years of undergraduate schooling, with another four years of education in an accredited podiatric medical school.
After this, they complete a three- or four-year hospital-based surgical residency, after which they are entitle to licensing in all 50 states.
Doctors of podiatry are able to treat a wide number of conditions of the lower extremity using both surgical and nonsurgical techniques.
The American Board of Podiatric Medicine (ABPM) certifies doctors in podiatric medicine and orthopedics through a comprehensive qualification and certification process.
In general, podiatrics and orthopedics are medical specialties that focus on comprehensive foot health care, although there are many subspecialties.
Some subspecialties include, but are not limited to:
Generally, podiatrists deal with health conditions that result from disorders of the joints and bones such as soft-tissue and muscular pathologies, neurological and circulatory diseases, and arthritis.
Using Your Military Experience as a Podiatrist
As a military podiatrist, you were able to treat service members and their families in the way that your traditional civilian counterparts would.
However, many of the military’s top medical centers are the source of advanced training and state-of-the-art technology that is so cutting-edge that it is unavailable to the civilian medical world.
In addition, you were able to provide highly managed, one-on-one care, receive advanced training, and work in a diverse, multi-disciplinary environment.
Your military experience helped you develop critical, on-the-go thinking skills and exposed you to unique drug therapies and surgical techniques that will make you an asset to a civilian practice.
Additionally, some service members, retirees, and their families feel more comfortable when being treated by an ex-service member who understands their unique challenges.
Because TRICARE, the armed services health benefit provider, allows service members to choose doctors outside of those at military facilities, your experience as a military podiatrist may draw a built-in clientele from local servicemen and servicewomen as well as veterans.
Taking Steps Toward a Career in Podiatry after Military Service
If you’ve got some medical training through the military and you want to go on to earn your medical degree, podiatry is a lucrative option.
Not only does the podiatrist salary allow for a comfortable income, but podiatrists in civilian practice often have a more controlled schedule than other specialists.
The number one reason to choose podiatry of all the medical professions is that is it in particularly high demand — and the demand is about to increase.
According to a survey by the American Staffing Association, podiatrists landed the number-one position for hardest-to-fill jobs, owing to high demand and low numbers of career podiatrists currently employed.
A study by the American Association of Podiatrists noted that the number of practicing podiatrists needed to triple by 2014 in order to cater to the needs of the aging Baby Boomer population.
This tripling of the workforce did not happen, and, in fact, it seems that fewer medical students are choosing podiatry as their specialty.
Currently, only 6.5 percent of podiatrists are less than 30 years old, pointing to the solid decline in numbers.
This means that anyone interested in a career in podiatry will likely find it easy to attract patients, secure a position on a hospital staff, and build a strong practice.
This is critical, since schooling can be expensive. Currently, there are 10 colleges and universities that offer programs in podiatry or podiatric medicine.
The average tuition costs for in-state students average $24,152 for undergraduate and $25,450 for graduate school, while out-of-state students pay $31,631 for undergraduate education and $27,792 for graduate schooling.
Fortunately, your military service entitles you to a wide array of benefits regarding education.
These include, but are not limited to the following benefits.
Under the tuition assistance program, you can receive assistance to cover the costs of some fees and tuition.
Montgomery GI Bill
Veterans can get benefits and tuition assistance through this program at four levels, depending on how you enlisted and your total amount of service time.
Tuition Assistance “Top Up” Program
The “Top Up” program supplements benefits from the GI Bill. For eligibility, you must be also be eligible for GI Bill benefits and have military department approval for federal Tuition Assistance.
If you qualify for benefits under the GI Bill, and you’re a three-quarter or full-time student in an accredited college degree or professional program, you can earn an hourly wage at Federal or State minimum-wage level, whichever is greater.
Tutorial Assistance Program
If you’re eligible for VA benefits at a rate of half or more, you’re eligible to receive tutorial assistance for courses that you’re having trouble with.
The Podiatrist Salary
According to U.S. News and World Report, podiatrists make an average of $124,830 annually.
Of course, this is dependent on location as well as skill level, with podiatrists in Honolulu topping the charts at $283,760 and San Antonio, Texas coming in at $231,140.
Wherever you choose to practice, it’s obvious that a podiatrist salary is more than ample to provide a comfortable, secure income for you and your family.
Why Wait — Choose Podiatry Now
If you served as a podiatrist in the military, the transition to civilian podiatry will be a simple one. You probably have more techniques, skills, and experience from your military career than a civilian doctor would be exposed to.
It’s that highly technical, unique experience that will make you a valuable asset to any podiatry practice or medical center staff.
You may even find that your skill set makes you a perfect candidate to manage a podiatry staff, as military doctors are well-known for their superior management skills.
The fast-paced and often on-the-go practice of military medicine puts military doctors at the head of their peers.
On the other hand, if your military experience has got you thinking about a future in the medical profession, then consider podiatry as a viable — and lucrative — option.
With a podiatrist salary averaging over $100,000 per year, you are guaranteed a comfortable income.
Additionally, the shortfall in podiatrists means you’ll have no trouble finding a job. In addition, you have at your disposal a wide variety of benefits aimed at helping you secure a good education.
From the GI Bill to help with tutoring, your military benefits can make your transition from the military to student life as simple and stress-free as possible.
You served your country, now let your country serve you by providing a way for you to develop your skills in a lucrative medical professional that is in high demand across the nation.