Chiropodist jobs(Also known as Podiatrist)
A chiropodist is a foot doctor who assists patients with caring for their feet and eradicating persistent and painful conditions which can occur on the foot. A chiropodist is tasked with taking care of issues with their patient’s feet. These problems can encompass the treatment of athlete’s foot, blisters, corn removal, hard skin removal, chilblains, gout, in-growing toenails, verrucas, sweaty feet and arthritis. Some problems are inherited (such as arthritis), whilst others occur as the result of poor-fitting shoes or the additional pressure put on the foot contact patches by playing sports. The average person walks a total distance of around 75,000 miles in their lifetime, meaning that the limb is subject to constant pressure and eventual wear. Many will be familiar with the issue of in-growing toenails, which affects a great number of people. This painful condition is difficult to deal with because the nails tend to “recurl” after the troublesome elongation has been removed. Verrucas are another very common problem, and result from the feet coming into contact with surfaces that carry the Human Papilova Virus (HPV), a highly infectious viral strain. Many patients also visit their chiropodist to treat sweaty feet; this is a localised result of hyperhidrodis, which is an uncontrolled sweat response from the body’s central nervous system. The chiropodist (now more frequently referred to as a podiatrist) must be able to deal with this wide range of conditions and advise the patient on how best to deal with their issues long-term.
SalaryAnticipated starting salary for chiropodists who wish to practise within the NHS is comparable to that of other therapists, including those in the fields of physiotherapy and occupational therapy. According to The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, the starting salary is approximately £19,500. This can increase up to £90,000 for a highly-proficient consultancy post. The Society also notes that many podiatrists who work in the NHS also run part-time private practices. Many practitioners choose to “stick private” and remuneration varies depending on operating hours, the size of the practice, the region and the types of services the podiatry clinic offers to their patients.
- Complete a full assessment of the patient’s condition
- Treat the condition with techniques and clinical materials as appropriate
- Advise the patient on wound care and ongoing good foot care practice
- Arrange a repeat booking or post-dated check-up with the patient as appropriate
QualificationsNormally, A-levels or an equivalent access course is required to enter a BSc Podiatry degree, and courses are offered at 13 institutions around the UK. After successful completion, a Postgraduate degree is not a prerequisite, but further study is always required to remain registered with an approved professional body, such as with the HPC (Health Professionals Council).
- A complete knowledge of foot care and foot treatment methods, itself a result of successful completion of a degree
- An understanding of advancements which are being made constantly in the podiatry profession
- Excellent analytical ability in order to diagnose problems correctly
- Ability to improvise foot repair techniques “on the fly” to overcome troublesome issues
- An understanding of how to put the patient at ease in the case of those who dislike their feet being touched or treated
Working ConditionsMost of the treatment work is carried out either in the chiropodist’s own clinic or in a clinic shared with other practices. Some podiatrists also undertake home visits which are specific to the elderly or the handicapped, in instances where patients are incapable of visiting the clinic. Some chiropodists admit that the smell of feet can be an issue at times, but this is an occupational hazard which is unavoidable. Part of the chiropodist’s remit is to work with the patient to redress this issue over the medium and long term for the better health of the patient.
ExperienceNew entrants to the profession are expected to have a sound knowledge of the various types of foot ailment as a result of completing a university degree. However, as the podiatrist develops, they will become more able to administer modified or improvised techniques to deal with less common problems. Chiropodists are encouraged to exchange knowledge of best practice with the various organisations within the sector.
Career ProgressionAlthough the concept of operating one’s own small practice initially seems limiting, the chiropodist will be immersed in a science that they are potentially able to develop or improve for the greater good of the profession. Those who practise as NHS chiropodists can advance through four tiers of progression to eventually become senior consultants.
EmployersThe most notable employer of chiropodists in the UK is obviously the NHS, although it is often reported that there are more people studying chiropody than there are jobs available. According to The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, graduate employment rates in private practices vary, but are generally very good. Currently, of those who are seeking a job, about 83% of students are employed within 6 months of graduation and 100% within the first year of graduation. There is no one clear leader in the private sector.
Robert Willis is an experienced chiropodist with a busy practice called Tamar Podiatry Clinic, which operates in Derriford, Plymouth and Saltash in the UK.