Podiatric medicine has evolved significantly over the past twenty years into a complementary medical and surgical profession providing comprehensive foot and ankle care. In Alberta, to practice podiatric medicine, the applicant must be a graduate of an accredited college of podiatric medicine, pass written and oral examinations and have completed a one-year postdoctoral residency program.
Podiatrists must graduate from one of eight accredited schools of podiatric medicine in the United States. These schools offer four-year programs similar to those of medical schools and in many cases podiatric medical students sit alongside medical students in the basic medical science courses. There are currently no accredited schools of podiatric medicine in Canada.
Residency training follows completion of a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree. Until recently, graduates had the option of completing a number of different types of training programs:
The Rotating Podiatric Residency (RPR) consisted of one year of postdoctoral training sponsored by and primarily conducted in a health care institution in which the resident receives training in patient and hospital protocol.
The Podiatric Orthopedic Residency (POR) consisted of one year of postdoctoral training sponsored by and primarily conducted in a health care institution in which the resident receives training in podiatric orthopedics with focus on the preservation and restoration of the function and structure of the lower extremities.
The Primary Podiatric Medical Residency (PPMR) consists of one year of postdoctoral training sponsored by and primarily conducted in a health care institution that facilitates the training and development of the resident in the comprehensive and continuous foot health care of individuals and families.
The Podiatric Surgical Residency (PSR-12, PSR-24 & PSR-24+) consists of advanced postdoctoral surgical training conducted in a health care institution in which the resident gains extensive experience in common types of podiatric surgical procedures as well as extremely specialized surgical procedures of the foot and ankle. These programs run from 12 to 36 months.
Specialty boards in the profession of podiatric medicine have been established to certify advanced qualifications of individual podiatrists who have demonstrated special expertise in the recognized areas of podiatric orthopedics, podiatric surgery, and primary podiatric medicine. Certification is considered to be an earned credential for those podiatric physicians who have achieved certain levels of skill and ability based upon completion of specific advanced training and clinical experience and examination. Those individual podiatric physicians who are certified are recognized for their achievement and enhanced capabilities. Recognition is based upon the demonstrated ability of a board to satisfy established criteria.
The APMA recognizes only one board, the American Board of Podiatric Surgery (ABPS) for certifying competency in performing ankle and foot surgery. The purpose of American Board of Podiatric Surgery is to serve the best interest of the public and medical profession by evaluating the initial and continuing qualifications of podiatric surgeons. The board reviews the credentials of voluntary candidates, conducts oral and written examinations, and issues certificates.
In Canada there are no certifying boards and because podiatrists practicing in Alberta have received their education and post-graduate training in the United States, credentialing bodies such as the Calgary Health Region have used the American Board of Podiatric Surgery board qualified/certified status for granting surgical privileges.