A podiatrist (US English), or chiropodist (British English), is a podiatry professional, that is a person devoted to the study and treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle. Translated literally, chiropody refers to medicine of the "hand and foot", but today chiropody is merely another name for podiatry. In the United States both terms were used interchangeably until the mid-twentieth century.

Practice characteristics
Podiatrists in the main practice in solo practice. However, there has been a movement toward larger group practices as well as the use of podiatrists in multi-specialty groups treating diabetes or in multi-speciality surgical groups. Some podiatrists work within clinic practices such as the Indian Health System (IHS), the Rural Health Centers (RHC) and Community Health Center (FQHC) systems established by the Federal government to provide services to under insured and non-insured patients as well as within the United States Department of Veterans Affairs providing care to veterans of military service.

Scope: The differences in podiatry practice are determined by state law. Each state allows or limits the practice of podiatry to the foot, ankle or and in many cases includes portions of the leg. This may include surgery above the ankle in several states. Many states require completion of a residency to practice. Many podiatrists work in hospital settings doing both medical and surgical treatments for patients. As in many other specialties some podiatrists work in nursing homes and some perform house calls for patients. Podiatry patients range from newborns and infants to the geriatric.
Medical and orthopedic practice: Some podiatrists limit their practices to the non-(hospital)surgical treatment of patients. Because much work in podiatry involves cutting of some kind, many procedures are considered surgical by insurance companies including tasks such as the (cutting of nails, removing of corns or callus) which the general public would not ordinarily consider to be surgery. These podiatrists use their skills in handling arthritic, diabetic, and other medical problems associated with the feet and lower extremities. Some use devices fitted in shoes (orthotic devices) or modify the shoe itself to make walking better or easier. Some practices focus on sports medicine and treat many runner, dancers, soccer players and other athletes.
Surgical Practice: Within the scope of practice, podiatrists are the experts at foot surgery. Podiatrists have specialized training and interest in the lower extremities as well as one to three year surgical residencies in the United States. Some podiatrists have solely surgical practices. Most podiatrists mix medical, orthopedic, biomechanics and surgical practices. Indeed surgical podiatric principles rest on a base of orthopedic and kinesthetic knowledge.

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