The D.P.M. degree is awarded to a student who completes a four-year curriculum that parallels allopathic and osteopathic medical schools, with more focus on foot and ankle anatomy, pathology, and clinical medicine in the final two years.  The colleges are recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council of Post-Secondary Education.

A D.P.M. wishing to specialize in Foot and Ankle surgery then enters up to three years of residency at an allopathic or osteopathic hospital and related facilities.  Residencies emphasize foot and ankle pathology, diagnosis and treatments, but also require clinical rotations and are accredited by JCAHO or AOA.

Data obtained from 1.1 million federal employees in the late 1980’s indicated that podiatrists provided more than 60% of all elective foot surgery.  A patient-reported medical outcomes study of 3,270 subjects found that D.P.M.’s scored 3.9% higher than other physicians in quality care and had patients with 30% shorter length of hospitalization.