Since podiatry entails surgery, i would think the practitioner would require a background in general medicine. Do you obtain the cliffs notes version of medicine while in school? If not, how in the world can you study feet for 4-6 years, or however long it is? They are feet; what can you possibly be learning about them for THAT long? ••
Don't take my answers to this in the wrong way, but I do like to use sarcasm.
Your thinking in the first sentence is quite accurate. We do have a general background, but also spend more time with our specific area. I highly doubt that we obtain the cliffs notes version of medicine while in school. At Des Moines University our first year courses are taken with the DO students. There are a couple of differences, we take intro to podiatry and biomechanics 1; they take intro to osteopathy and OMM. A couple of other minor things, but not anything significant. So, unless the DOs are also receiving a cliffs notes version . . .
They are only feet, what could possible take 4-6 years to study them. How long does it take a cardiologist to learn about the heart? How long does it take the dentist to learn about the teeth? How long does it take the optometrist to learn about the eye? For that matter, why should we need ophthalmologists? Aren't they just doing the same thing? Many PhD's take longer than 4-6 years, and their topic of study is usually much more specific.
To be more specific:
A fair amount of time is spent on biomechanics. Can you tell me specifically how your foot works during the gait cycle? And why? Now think about an abnormally functioning foot? How is it best treated?
Lower limb anatomy. The course we took with the DOs in the first year was Gross Anatomy. In the second year we cover Lower limb anatomy as a dissection lab course. In much more detail than in gross, not an easy course. Lots of variations. Lots of stuff we did never covered in gross.
Dermatology. There is a bit of this on the feet.
Radiology. Lots of bones in the feet. Also cover things like CT and MRIs. Of course it helps to really know anatomy. Are you looking at a pull-off fracture or an accessory ossicle?
Diabetes. This is a huge area. So it generally gets some attention in every course we take. Neuropathy causes huge problems for these people, among other things. No need to make a list.
Surgery. There are literally dozens of ways to fix a simple bunion. How do you know which technique will work for which patient? Why were all these different techniques developed? Wonder if that biomechanics stuff might have anything to do with it?
Trauma, and emergency medicine. Crush injuries, falls, gunshot wounds, etc.
Sports medicine. Last time I looked, most sports rely on the foot in some manner. Lots of injuries here too. Is it a sprain, or a fracture?
Gerontology. Old people have feet too. Most of them anyway. Know what most old people fear most? Loss of independence. Know a quick way to get to loss of independence? Have a hard time walking?
Essentially everything the podiatrist does can and is done by someone else. Sure, your FP can do a nail avulsion or a matrixectomy. The orthopaedic surgeon can do a bunionectomy. The dermatologist can treat tinea pedis, erythrasma, etc. The ER doc might treat your ankle sprain.
Of course the FP might also deliver a baby, but wouldn't you prefer the Ob-Gyn to do that? The ER doc knows what to do with an MI, but don't these people usually get seen by a cardiologist at some point? Etc.
Hope this gives you a bit to think about.