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Private Practice Placements for the University of Salford student Podiatrists

18th March 2020

About the University of Salford student – Alice

“I am 21 years old and currently live in the North West. I was inspired to choose Podiatry as a career aged 11 by my private Podiatrist who educated me on the wide scope of practice both in the NHS and in private practice, routes for specialism and career progression and the flexibility available. Since then I haven’t wanted to do anything else, it made my GCSE, A Level and degree choices easy because I knew where I was heading! I have found the entire course such a joy and so rewarding. I’m very excited for the future as I head to graduation later this year and moving away to start my career. Alice put herself forward as a volunteer student to participate in this unique experience.

About Private Practice Owner – Gill

Gill Newhouse is one of our early Private Practice Champions. Gill offered her practice as one of the pilot sites providing hands on practice placement opportunities offering a wide range of clinical skills including sharps debridement and nail surgery.

Gill said: “My career choice was inspired by my father; a paraplegic from the age of 27, he never knew a step without pain. Growing up in a household with a disabled father meant that I had personal experience of being a carer from a very early age.  At the age of 20 years I was employed as a carer by the Leonard Cheshire Foundation.  I eventually became the Care Manager and stayed with the Foundation for 13 years, before attending the University of Salford to study Podiatry.

“Podiatry provided me with the skills to ensure patients are given the best opportunity to walk as pain-free as possible. 

“I qualified in 2001 and worked within the NHS for 7 years before setting up my own Private Practice.  I have now been in Private Practice for 10 years.  I currently employ 6 staff, including a second qualified podiatrist, a podiatry assistant, a practice manager and two receptionists. I run two Clinic sites and offer a domiciliary service to those patients who are housebound. New graduates into our profession are essential. This project has been so valuable contributing to our stability and growth in both sectors of podiatry. Private practice is not and will never be a second choice to our profession, students need to see both NHS and private practice and experience the whole spectrum of what we can offer.”

This is what Gill and Alice had to say about the placement pilot.

How do you feel the placement went?

Alice: “Great confidence booster, thoroughly enjoyed it”

Did you find the competencies helped you to understand the structure of the placement? Were they workable, and were you able to meet them?

Alice: “The fact that some competencies are optional was great because it meant that I did not have to repeat some of the competencies that I had already met elsewhere or that I could meet in an alternative setting.”

Gill: “The business competencies were great, but we need to make sure that we have protected time within the placement to meet the entrepreneurial competencies.”

Alice: “It has been great to see how a private practice setting is different from an NHS setting.  I think it is important for students to have the experience of both private and NHS settings. Students do not realise what private practice can offer for both their own development and how they can help patients. “My perception about private practice has changed since I have been on the placement with Gill. Patients were very supportive of me being here. There were a couple of patients that only wanted Gill to treat them, but the majority have commented on the importance of students having opportunities to learn. Patients were more than happy to have me treat them. I saw new pathologies that I have not seen before and I was also able to participate in nail surgery sessions.”

Gill: “As an educator in a private practice setting the main challenge is the time it takes to upskill to be able to provide students with a good education experience. It is also the time in practice. If half the profession is in private practice, there should be more private practice exposure within training.”

Alice: “I agree with that. It has felt a little bit like a ‘micro exposure’ to private practice so far on the course, doing day placements in a private setting. This experience has shown that it is worth every effort to ensure we have more exposure to private practice.”

Gill: “Perhaps if there are a group of practices in one area, they could provide more opportunities for students by working together to cover the whole range of pathologies and scope of practice opportunities.

Overall Alice has really developed her confidence since being with us on placement. I think the placement has been a great success”

What did the patients think about having students treating them in a private practice setting?

This is what they said.

Mrs H: “I have been a client of the podiatry clinic for many years. I have always received the best treatment. On recent occasions there has been a student present while I had my consultation and treatment. It has been a pleasure to have these young people in attendance. They are always very pleasant, interested in the procedures, and ask all the right questions. I have no problem at all with the students being involved in providing my treatment.”

Mr G. “Having received treatment for a couple of years from Gill Newhouse I have always been satisfied with the excellent care and attention from everyone in the practice at Garstang and Knott End. There was no exception when treated by a third-year student recently at the Garstang practice, who was quite confident and experienced and would not have been out of place within the team.”

About the project

The Challenge Fund project is to increase the pipeline of podiatry placements. The project is linked with other national projects to grow the number of students taking up places to train as podiatrists.

In 2018 Michelle Cullen, placement lead at the University of Salford, contacted several enthusiastic, local, private practitioners, who came together to pilot a private practice placement for final year students at the University of Salford.

As this was a new venture there were no preconceived ideas of how this would work. After this first cohort of students completed their placements conversations took place with consideration to the actual opportunities available within private practice placements.

All the practitioners agreed that they could support an element of ‘hands on assessment and treatment, including MSK assessment, vascular and neurological screening, as well as involving students in giving foot and general health care advice.

Gill Newhouse, however, offered students the opportunity to engage in more extensive podiatry over a two-week placement. This gave an ideal opportunity to develop the next level of private practice placements within the SIHED Challenge Fund project. As part of the pilot work, the Challenge Fund team wrote private practice competencies, these included clinical practice competencies and entrepreneurial competencies. We wanted students to experience the added benefit that could be gained from a private practice setting. The competencies gave a unique edge to the private practice experience that would not have been experienced on public sector placements.

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