Decoding Why Orthopedic Surgeons Hate Podiatrists?


The topic itself can raise some eyebrows as we have asked a mind-boggling question of why Orthopedic surgeons hate Podiatrists. Yes, we can experience this unknown rivalry between the two healthcare experts. The medical world has evolved in a lot of ways, we have dedicated doctors working in a particular field but certain specialties may collide with each other in terms of practices and treating the patient. We have tried to dig deeper into this topic and have addressed some of the issues that might be responsible for the tussle between an Orthopedic surgeon and a Podiatrist. On what grounds we should choose to go to an Orthopedic surgeon or a Podiatrist? To dig into this unknown rivalry first we need to understand how to become an Orthopedic surgeon or a Podiatrist.

Why Orthopedic Surgeons Hate Podiatrists
Why Orthopedic Surgeons Hate Podiatrists

Table of Contents

Who is an Orthopedic surgeon and how to become one?

Orthopedic surgeons are a class of medical doctors a branch of science that deals with musculoskeletal conditions. They diagnose and treat any such problems. In the United States of America, many Orthopedic surgeons have been practicing in hospitals, clinics, and privately. To become an Orthopedic surgeon, you have to go through a series of very hard steps. You must obtain a 4-years of bachelor’s degree in medicine and also have to complete a 5-years of graduate medical residency. It may include patient contact, subspeciality work, and research. To become a certified Orthopedic surgeon, you have to go through some rigorous steps which are,

Who is an Orthopedic surgeon and how to become one?
Who is an Orthopedic surgeon and how to become one?

Complete all the prerequisites needed to attend a medical school

The course may comprise subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Literature, and Physiology. Although Medical schools may the specify exact type and number of courses required for filling out the application.

Prepare for Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

You need to score well in your MCAT to get admission to a medical school.  This examination is of 6 hours in duration, grilling you on courses like Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Writing, and Physiology.

Get an MD or DO Degree by attending an Allopathic or Osteopathic Medical School

The first four years of study you need to complete from a renowned medical school. The medical schools are structured in a way so that the students are taking didactic courses for the initial 2 years of school. After that, they have to work in hospitals going through different specialties.

You need to take USMLE or COMPLEX

While you are in medical school you have to pass several national boards, exams called the United States Medical Licensing Examination or USMLE. To receive a DO degree these tests are called Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensure Examination or COMPLEX.

Complete Your Internship and Residency, and become board certified by the ABOS

In the last few months of medical school, students have to apply for residency. Before that Orthopedic surgeons have to complete an Intern year. Which is working in a hospital through different specialties. For the last year Orthopedic surgery residents need to study for their board exams and become board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery or ABOS.

Optional to attend Fellowship

After residency, if surgeons want to advance their skills in a specialty or ortho medicine they can go for a fellowship.

Who is a Podiatrist and how to become one?

A Podiatrist is a medical professional who is a specialist in treating the conditions and injuries related to the feet, soft tissues, bones, ankles, and lower extremities. Being a Podiatrist, you have to complete four years of training in a Podiatric school and residency training.

Who is a Podiatrist and how to become one?
Who is a Podiatrist and how to become one?

Fulfil the prerequisite for Podiatrist school

To become a Podiatrist, you either need to take the pre-med program in your undergrad or pick a major which is focused on science background. You will get 4 years of Bachelor’s degree.

Prepare for MCAT

To be a part of medical school you need to give Medical College Admission Test or MCAT which focuses on your knowledge of science, communication, writing, and reasoning skills.

Attend a Podiatric Medicine degree

You will be awarded a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) after completing a 4 years Bachelor’s degree from an accredited medical college or university.

Residency program for 2 to 3 years

Once the 4 years of medical training are completed, graduates must do a residency program for 2 to 3 years.

Getting a degree and maintaining the certificate

To practice legally get a DPM degree after giving an oral or written exam to get the license. To maintain yourself on the highest levels with ever-changing technology you must continue your education and update yourself.

Being an Orthopedic surgeon is very challenging as compared to a Podiatrist, this can be the basis of the tussle of Why Orthopedic Surgeons Hate Podiatrists?

Must Read: What do Orthopedic Surgeons Think of Chiropractors?

Psychological Difference between Orthopedic Surgeons and Podiatrists

Before digging out the broad spectrum and deciding on the fact of possible reasons why Orthopedic surgeons hate Podiatrists, we need to take a look into their mental abilities and bifurcated their core strengths and problem-solving skills. Technically speaking both Orthopedic surgeons and Podiatrist works on the issues related to the musculoskeletal system of our body. The focus area of an Orthopedic surgeon is a bit wide as it involves bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. While a Podiatrist focuses on feet and ankles.

Psychological Difference between Orthopedic Surgeons and Podiatrists
Psychological Difference between Orthopedic Surgeons and Podiatrists

Let us take a deep dive into the psychological difference between Orthopedic surgeons and Podiatrists. It can be a complex study that dwells between personalities and psychological traits.

Focus Levels

  • An Orthopedic surgeon can deal with a variety of issues in the musculoskeletal system. This can widen their work range as they feel much more comfortable while dealing with different issues within the system.
  • A Podiatrist specializes to deal with foot and ankle-related issues. This makes them an expert in that region and their diagnosis can be very conclusive.

Difference in Approach

  • Orthopedic surgeons have complex problem-solving skills. As they see the wide array of problems, they have to be quick decision-makers. This means they need to assess the situation and quickly determine the solution to it.
  • Podiatrists take a holistic approach, as they are dealing with conditions that are mainly related to feet, or ankles. They want to be sure of its impact on the overall health of the patient.

Precision in the treatment

  • An Orthopedic surgeon does not shy away from a possible recommended surgery. It demands excellent motor skills and impeccable hand-eye coordination.
  • A Podiatrist is qualified for performing surgery.  Their approach and focus can be a bit conservative. Before recommending surgery, they believe in therapies, different lifestyle changes, and orthotics.

Communicating with the Patient

  • Orthopedic surgeons are dealing with multiple issues and are more dynamic. They need to be very effective, and directive sometimes while communicating with a patient.
  • Podiatrists think of preventive care and like to educate the patient. Their communication with the patient may involve the near future of the treatment and how they can avoid further problems.

Dealing with Pressure

  • While dealing with trauma injuries an Orthopedic surgeon can be in a chaotic situation. They need to develop a habit to stay calm in these situations and focus on solutions.
  • A Podiatrist can form a strong patient-doctor bond. They like to give it time during ongoing treatment. They follow a patient-centric approach while dealing with foot and ankle problems.

Top reasons why Orthopedic surgeons hate Podiatrists?

We have tried to list down possible reasons why Orthopedic surgeons Hate Podiatrists. and, in the end, we can say that we should end this battle of supremacy and focus on providing better healthcare facilities.

Top reasons why Orthopedic surgeons hate Podiatrists?
Top reasons why Orthopedic surgeons hate Podiatrists?

1. The difference in study level

It is easily believable that yes, being an Orthopedic surgeon is way more challenging than being a Podiatrist. Orthopedic surgeons had to do 6 years of residency as compared to 3 years of residency for a Podiatrist.  There is a clear difference in the rigorous training level of both. Still, Podiatrists do foot surgery, ankle, and calcaneal fractures.

2. Money does matter

The Orthopedic surgeon believes that the share of their earning is getting divided among Podiatrists when it comes to foot and ankle. For the rest of the body, they play the monopoly but, for this, they cannot withstand the unnecessary competition.

3. Sometimes they interfere with practices

Sometimes when the battle of supremacy unfolds the Orthopedic surgeons believe they have to clean the mess created by Podiatrists. In any case, when referring to an Orthopedic surgeon from a Podiatrist generally invite some unhealthy rivalries.

4. Orthopedic surgeons believes that Podiatrists should not conduct surgeries

Orthopedic Surgeons believe Podiatrists are not well qualified to perform foot and ankle surgery, while Podiatrists just want to continue their practices.

5. Game of superiority

There is a complex among Orthopedic surgeons with their degrees and the cases they see. With this complex, they do not want Podiatrists to make a mess by ill-treating patients who require foot or ankle surgeries.

Must Read:  What Do Doctors Think of Chiropractors?

Common medical conditions treated by Orthopedic surgeons & Podiatrists

Both Orthopedic surgeons and Podiatrists are qualified to diagnose and treat patients experiencing issues with their ankles and feet. Orthopedic surgeons specialize in diagnosing, preventing and treating a wide range of musculoskeletal injuries, and conditions. Podiatrists are highly skilled medical specialists who can treat various foot and lower leg conditions. The area of their expertise extends to treating injuries and conditions that may arise due to a chronic health condition like diabetes.

Common medical conditions treated by Orthopedic surgeons & Podiatrists
Common medical conditions treated by Orthopedic surgeons & Podiatrists

Medical conditions treated by Orthopedic surgeons

  • Fractures and other bone injuries
  • Dislocations and joint injuries
  • Arthritis 
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Congenital musculoskeletal disorders
  • Bone tumors
  • Sciatica
  • Spinal conditions like scoliosis 

Medical conditions treated by Podiatrists

  • Ingrown toenails
  • Foot and ankle sprains
  • Stress fractures
  • Diabetic foot complications
  • Corns and calluses
  • Fungal infections
  • Achilles tendonitis

Do I need an Orthopedic surgeon or a Podiatrist?

  • It can be a little confusing for the patient whether they should see an Orthopedic surgeon or a Podiatrist. The practice of healthcare between these two departments can collide.
  • It is clear that in case you have an injury or prolonged condition that is affecting your foot or ankle, it is recommended to see a Podiatrist.
  • Similarly, if your musculoskeletal system is getting affected due to any injury or any symptom it is recommended to see an Orthopedic surgeon.

Podiatrist versus Orthopedic Surgeon for Foot Surgery

The patient should seek the medical supervision of both medical specialties taking into consideration their level of experience, area of training, and expertise. This approach will help to make a well-informed decision according to their needs.

Podiatrist versus Orthopedic Surgeon for Bunion Surgery

When it comes to foot surgery both Podiatrists and Orthopedic surgeons can be a vital choice. It is very important to be crystal clear about the complexity of the surgery, specialization, and experience of the particular medical practitioner. Podiatrists specialize in treating foot conditions including bunions. An Orthopedic surgeon is an expert in the musculoskeletal system and can perform surgeries on different parts of the body including the foot. Before choosing between the two a patient should be aware of their experience and training level, it also depends on the comfort level of the patient and the communication level between the two.

Webstory on “Why Orthopedic Surgeons Hate Podiatrists: Unraveling Professional Feuds


We want to conclude and also want to end the battle of supremacy between two different classes of healthcare experts. Yes, we agree that being an Orthopedic surgeon is very difficult as compared to being a Podiatrist. We should immediately stop comparing and see it with a broader prospect that both are trying to make the healthcare system better. It is understandable the rivalry between the two, until and unless it is not hampering the overall healthcare system then it is good to have some competition.


Q1. What’s the difference between a Podiatrist and an Orthopedic surgeon?

An Orthopedic surgeon specializes in treating a wide range of musculoskeletal issues which may include bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and nerves throughout the body, while a Podiatrist focuses on the issues related to foot and ankle which may include bunions, heels pain, ingrown toenails, and diabetic foot care.

Q2. What is the difference between a foot doctor and a Podiatrist?

In medical terms, there is no difference between a foot doctor and a Podiatrist. Both of the terms refer to medical professionals who specialize in dealing with problems related to feet, ankles, and lower extremities. Podiatrists are commonly referred to as “foot doctors.”

Q3. Is it better to have foot surgery by a Podiatrist or an Orthopedic surgeon?

Both Podiatrists and Orthopedic surgeons are qualified for foot-related surgery. While choosing between them depends on various other factors that you should keep in mind like foot condition, experience and expertise, and your personal preference. If you are confused enough then better seek opinions from both of them.

Q4. Why is Podiatry, not a medical specialty?

It is an incorrect statement. Podiatry is indeed considered a medical specialty in the USA. The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) is an organization representing Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) in the US. They work alongside other medical professionals including Orthopedic surgeons, to provide comprehensive foot and ankle care to the patients.

Q5. Is it easier to become a Podiatrist than a doctor?

No, being a Podiatrist and a doctor requires the same amount of dedication, education, and training. The path to becoming a Podiatrist and a doctor might share some similarities but also are different in terms of education and specialization. To become a Podiatrist in the USA, you need to complete a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), and to become a doctor you need to complete a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. The residency program for a Podiatrist is of 3 years, while for a doctor it can vary from 3 to 7 years. A Podiatrist needs to pass APLME after completing the degree and residency, while a doctor has to pass USMLE or COMPLEX.

Q6. What do Podiatrists do?

A Podiatrist is a healthcare expert who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions related to feet, ankles, and lower extremities. They can manage various chronic conditions including foot and ankle, provide preventive care, manage foot health in diabetic patients, conduct research, and many more.

Q7. Which is better Podiatrist or Orthopedist?

Rather than see this as a question of supremacy we should break down this statement on a level where a patient can judge when they need one of them. A Podiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating foot, ankle, and lower extremities. An Orthopedic surgeon specializes in dealing with conditions related to the musculoskeletal system. In many cases, these two medical specialties can overlap their practices. Consulting a primary care physician and seeking their referral to visit any of them can be a very good strategy in case you are confused between the two.

Mansi Balodi
Mansi Balodi
My life is always on a run but I try to find time for myself to let my wisdom and knowledge help and guide you. In my blogs, I will try to demystify the complexities of topics and will connect with you with ease of understanding. So let's explore the treasure of the world with words.

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