As a podiatrist, you’ll be trained to diagnose and treat abnormal conditions of the feet and lower limbs.
You’ll improve people’s standard of life by preventing and correcting deformities. By relieving pain, treating infections, and keeping people mobile and active, you will be able to reduce the impact which their condition has on them and what they are able to do.
People who are facing issues with their feet often feel anxious and frustrated. As a podiatrist, you’ll use your expertise to support them and enable them to live more mobile lives. You’ll be trained to identify a range of mobility issues, relieve pain, and treat infections of the feet and lower legs.
You’ll help patients with a variety of issues, such as:
children with lower limb pain or problems walking
diabetes sufferers with circulation problems who may be at risk of amputation
people with sports injuries or dancers who put stress on their feet by spending long hours rehearsing and performing
You’ll work with other healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, dieticians, GPs, and nurses. That could take you to a variety of settings – from hospitals and community clinics to patients' homes.
What are the pay and conditions like?
Your standard working week will be around 37.5 hours, and may include working some evenings or weekends.
You will be able to claim £2,000 a year towards childcare costs through the NHS Learning Support Fund, and there’s funding available for adult dependants and some placement travel costs too. If you have a disability, there are grants to help with essential costs while studying via the Disabled Students’ Allowance.
If working on the NHS you will have access to one of the best pension schemes in the UK, as well as access to exclusive health service discounts and benefits at some of the most popular brands.
Where you could be working
Podiatrists work in a range of settings including:
What are your career development opportunities?
You’ll receive an annual personal development review to ensure you’re making the most of every opportunity offered. And with continuous professional development, you can add to your skills and progress to specialist roles with a higher pay grade.
You’ll also be encouraged to join the College of Podiatry, where you can take courses and attend conferences or seminars.
You may also choose to specialise in sports injuries, diabetes, or work with children. You could move into teaching or management in podiatry services where you’d be responsible for a team and manage budgets. Or you could also continue your training to become a podiatrist surgeon.
Academic qualifications aren't everything. As a podiatrist, you’ll need to have great communication skills. You’ll have to listen to your patients talk about their conditions and talk them through the treatment you’ll give them. You’ll set a tone that makes others feel relaxed.
Are you a people person?
You’ll need to be a natural ‘people person’ who is able to quickly make others feel at ease. You’ll be patient and enthusiastic with your patients – helping them make progress while listening to their reservations. You’ll need to enjoy being part of a team and be able to think quickly on your feet.
Are you a compassionate person?
As a podiatrist, you’ll treat patients who may be in pain. You must be empathetic towards the people you work with, helping them work towards an end goal without expecting too much too soon. You will also need to feel comfortable handling other people’s feet.
Do you have critical thinking skills?
You must have a sharp, analytical mind to diagnose your patients correctly. Then you’ll need to determine the best course of treatment for each individual. You’ll be trained to offer innovative treatments and will have advanced technologies at your disposal. No patient will be the same.
Are you detail-oriented?
Podiatrists must have an eye for detail. You’ll need to review a patient's medical history with a fine-tooth comb to hunt out clues about their problems. This will also avoid potential conflicts with any treatment plan you’d propose.
The most popular way into podiatry is through an approved degree course or master’s degree in podiatry. It usually takes two to three years full-time and over four years part-time, although there are some accelerated courses available.
Once you’ve successfully completed your degree, you’ll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) before you can start practising. The other option is to apply for a degree apprenticeship.
Entry requirements for an undergraduate degree include:
five GCSEs (grades A – C), including English language, maths, and science
three A levels (or equivalent), including a biological science
Or equivalent qualifications:
a BTEC, HND or HNC, including a biological science
a relevant NVQ
a science-based Access course
equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications
a previous degree, or full practising qualification in a related area
Applying with a degree apprenticeship
A degree apprenticeship with a healthcare provider is another way to become a podiatrist. Apprenticeships give you the chance to earn a living while gaining your qualification. Your employer and the government will pay the tuition fees, so apprenticeships aren’t eligible for student grants.
Once you’ve successfully completed a programme approved by the HCPC, you are then eligible to apply for registration with them. Once registered as a practitioner, you’ll be required to retain your name on the register by keeping your knowledge and skills up-to-date and paying an annual retention fee.
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