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Keeping Podiatry in the family

25th November 2019

Children following their parents into the Podiatry profession happens fairly frequently. For many young people, contact with Podiatry generates the initial spark of interest that leads to a career in this field, so children whose parents are Podiatrists quite often enter the profession themselves. Alison Clark-Morris’s family, however, have taken this a step further…

Like many other Podiatrists, Alison Clark-Morris followed a parent into the profession. Her father, Michael, upon retiring from the army at 40, began studying Podiatry as he sought a new career that would make use of his engineering skills. At the time, Alison was finishing her studies at school, and weighing up her own career options. She liked art, was good with her hands and enjoyed learning by doing and was keen to go into a health profession. So, after researching a few health career options, a year later she followed her dad into Podiatry training.

Alison’s Aunt Janet (Michael’s sister-in-law), practiced Podiatry already from a private practice in the South West. She had recommended the career to them both, spotting that in its different ways, Podiatry would satisfy both the engineer and the artist in the family.

Whilst at university Alison met her husband Lloyd, who was studying for a management degree. After graduating they went travelling and on their return got married and pursued their different careers. She joined the NHS and they had three children and she moved into private practice to benefit from the extra flexibility it provided for family life.

Then, at 40, Lloyd decided he wanted to move out of corporate work and develop his own business. With a keen interest in sports science, he looked at various options, including Osteopathy and physiotherapy, before deciding that Podiatry was the best fit for him too. And so today there are no fewer than four qualified Podiatrists in the extended family.

With such a strong presence of one profession in the family, how do other family members feel about it? “Our girls have banned it at home – they have a strict rule that there should be no feet at the table!” says Alison.

Alison’s Aunt Janet who inspired Michael and Alison to join the profession, recalls how she began her career in the 1970s:

“I qualified in 1973 and returned from training at the Chelsea School of Chiropody to set up my own private practice in Okehampton, where I am still in full time work. I have thoroughly enjoyed my work and it has been a privilege to provide a service to so many interesting, charming and loyal people. As a career, it has also proved to be a wonderfully flexible place for the working mother. I was able to take all four of my children with me until they were old enough to go to the childminder. I could arrange my work schedule to fit around school time and many of the other activities of family life.”

She adds: “It’s been amazing to welcome my brother-in-law and my niece and her husband into the profession.”

Today, Alison and Lloyd are based in Berkshire, where she works as a generalist Podiatrist, while Lloyd focuses on MSK and sports injury cases.

“Lloyd has an interest in the biomechanical side of things, while I developed more of a specialism in diabetes care,” says Alison. “While he was starting out, he was able to take over my MSK cases from me. He now runs a clinic in partnership with an Osteopath, while I divide my time between two different clinics doing a lot of work with nails, including cosmetic treatments for fungal nails and nail surgery.”

With Michael based in Surrey and Janet in Devon, and Alison and Lloyd working in different fields, the four have each carved their own niche. But when there has been the need for a second opinion, having other Podiatrists in the family has had its advantages. “Having other Podiatrists in the family has been useful if I’ve ever needed to refer cases across or get another opinion. This sometimes happens f there is a patient you are particularly concerned about or if initial treatments don’t seem to be working,” says Alison. “I sometimes talk about cases with dad, though his practice is quite different from mine. We’ve been to conferences together, which was lovely.”

Will there be a third generation of Podiatrists? Time will tell, but Alison doesn’t rule it out: “I think it’s possible my middle daughter might be interested in it, but we will have to see.”

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