Consumer Information

What You Should Know About Podiatrists and Their Services


What is a podiatrist?

A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) who is a licensed health care professional who diagnoses, treats, operates and prescribes for any disease, injury, deformity, or other condition of the foot.

What kinds of conditions do podiatrists treat?

Podiatrists can treat any condition of the feet, such as the following:

  • injuries to bones (including fractures), tendons and soft tissue
  • foot problems resulting from illness such as diabetes, arthritis, AIDS, and cardiovascular diseases
  • bacterial and fungal infections
  • skin and nail disorders
  • benign and cancerous tumors
  • congenital and acquired foot deformities

What kinds of services and treatment can I expect?

In evaluating and diagnosing foot problems, podiatrists perform a comprehensive examination of all body systems related to the initial complaint. Further tests may be required. Some tests, such as x-rays or blood studies, may be performed in the office, while others, such as certain scans, may be ordered outside.

Once a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan is presented; this plan might include any or all of the following things, among others:

  • oral medication
  • locally injected medication
  • exercises
  • devices to assure the proper alignment of the foot
  • surgery
  • arthroscopy
  • casting or other forms of immobilization

What credentials does a New York licensed podiatrist have?

A New York licensed podiatrist has completed an approved four-year program of podiatric medical education and received the doctor of podiatric medicine (D.P.M.) degree. Most applicants admitted to podiatric medical school have completed a minimum of a bachelor's degree.  In addition, one year of post-graduate training in an approved residency program must be completed to qualify for licensure.

New York licensed podiatrists have also passed comprehensive licensing examinations approved by the State Education Department. In addition, practicing podiatrists must satisfy annual continuing professional education requirements.

Where do podiatrists practice?

Podiatrists practice just about anywhere that health services are provided -- hospitals, clinics, private practices, nursing homes, colleges, industry, and the armed forces.

How do I obtain the services of a podiatrist?

Check with people you know who have been helped by a podiatrist. Other healthcare providers may refer you to a podiatrist, and local podiatric societies and insurance companies may have directories of practitioners. Podiatrists are also listed in the yellow pages of your phone book. The State Board for Podiatry cannot refer you to a practitioner.

Will my health insurance cover podiatric services?

If you need help understanding your insurance plan, contact your podiatrist's office staff or your insurance provider to help you determine your plan's benefits. If you have a complaint about coverage, please contact the State Insurance Department External Link Icon at 1-800-342-3736.

What questions should individuals with disabilities ask about accessing services?

Ask such questions as whether the service location is physically accessible (curb cuts, ramps, restrooms, etc.) as well as whether there is a Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) and parking for people with disabilities. You may also ask if the practitioner makes house calls.

What records does my podiatrist retain? Can anyone else get them?

Your file contains a record of your examination and treatment. Podiatrists must keep client records for six years or until the client turns 22, whichever is longer.

Generally, your records are confidential unless you approve their release. Ask your professional about exceptions to this. If you want a copy of your records, provide your podiatrist with a written request. You may be charged a reasonable fee to offset the cost of providing copies.

How can I evaluate the quality of care I am receiving from my podiatrist?

You should be able to answer Yes to each statement below:

  • I was treated with courtesy and respect.
  • My diagnosis, treatment plan, and the procedures used were explained.
  • My privacy was maintained.
  • My concerns were addressed.

Verifying a New York license:

New York podiatrists must display a current New York registration certificate; this certificate lists the professional's name, address, and dates of the registration period. Podiatrists must reregister every three years to practice in New York. Some professionals also display their original New York license, diploma, licenses from other states, and membership certificates. You may verify an individual's license and registration on this site.

Last Updated: April 9, 2014