One patient finds it so painful to walk that they can’t get to work. Another patient won’t feel right until they can get back into their football boots. A patient with arthritis needs an ongoing treatment plan to keep them mobile and independent.
As a podiatrist, you could help them all.
What does a podiatrist do?
A podiatrist cares for the feet, ankles and lower limbs. They are an expert in the structure, function and health of these parts of the body.
Podiatrists diagnose, treat and rehabilitate diseases and complications, prevent and manage problems, relieve pain, treat infection and support people with foot complications.
A podiatrist’s patients can range from babies to older people. They specialise in helping patients with high risk, long-term conditions, particularly diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and peripheral arterial disease. They also treat osteoarthritis, dermatological and neurological disorders, among other conditions.
Podiatrists often work in teams with other healthcare professionals. They liaise between GP surgeries, patients’ homes, care homes, A&E departments and hospitals to make sure patients get the best care wherever they are.
Podiatrists can prescribe medicines, which used to be something only doctors could do.
What’s the work like?
- Podiatrists can choose NHS work, private practice, academic work, or even a combination. Podiatry generally pays well.
- As you continue your career in podiatry, you’ll have the opportunity to specialise in areas that interest you. You could specialise in an area of biology like the vascular, musculoskeletal or neurological system, or in a type of condition, like diabetes, rheumatology or sports injuries, for example. Some podiatrists specialise in treating children, some do post-graduate study to become podiatric surgeons, and there are even forensic podiatrists who help with criminal investigations by analysing footprints from crime scenes and ways people walk.
- Many podiatrists work sociable, routine hours. Working part-time can be an option.
- With people living longer, and more people living with the sort of long-term conditions podiatrists specialise in, you’ll probably always be able to find as much work as you want.
What makes a good podiatrist?
- Caring. Wanting to help people, to relieve their pain and strain and help them live healthier and more independent lives, is the most important quality you need to study and work as a podiatrist.
- Comfortable working with your hands. Podiatry is a hands-on job, often calling for a lot of manual skill.
- People skills. People can be nervous about letting someone treat their feet and lower limbs. Podiatrists need to put patients at their ease and show them there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.