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What is a Podiatrist?

Podiatrists must register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC, 2018). Podiatrists assess, diagnose, treat, and evaluate abnormalities and diseases related to lower extremities, relying on evidence-based practice (Green, 2005).

Podiatrists should be comfortable handling patients’ feet of different age (Moore, 2009). They should be good listeners, and understanding, calm, caring and dedicated to their work and patients. Podiatrists may work alone or in a team (Levy, 2015). Podiatrist should be good at manual skills. They should be good at organization, communication, and explaining treatment to patients. Those in private practice should possess business skills (Causby et al., 2013). Podiatrists should understand body’s internal mechanism to retain, repair and improve body’s movement. They deliver foot health education to patients and refer them to other healthcare and social services professionals. Podiatrists may prescribe, produce and fit orthotics and other aids and appliances (Fittock, 2010; Levy, 2015).

Podiatrists use therapeutic and surgical techniques to treat lower extremities issues, such as nail and soft tissue surgery using local anaesthetics. They use multiple equipments, such as dressings, grinders, lasers, orthotic (inner sole) materials, shaping equipment, surgical instruments, treatment tables, video gait-analysis equipment (for analysis of patients' walking or running problems), and x-ray (Moore, 2009; Levy, 2015). Finally, podiatrists may undertake many administrative tasks such as ensuring stock levels are maintained and securely stored, and that equipment is kept in good working order (Walsh et al., 2017). Oftentimes, podiatrists work as a part of multidisciplinary team, working alongside general practitioners; physiotherapists; occupational therapist; specialist tissue viability nurses; and orthotics (Bradshaw, 1999; Fittock, 2010).

Podiatrists usually begin their career in general clinics; many may decide to specialise in a specialty later. For example, some podiatrists focus on managing high-risk patients with illness or condition that exposes their lower limbs to high risk of infection or disability (Kim et al., 2012); such as the elderly and those with increased risk of amputation (Sloan et al., 2010; Kim et al., 2012). This includes rheumatology, dermatology, diabetes or vascular clinics (Helliwell, 2003; Bristow, 2009; Kim et al., 2012). Other specialties include: 1) biomechanics with focus on sports injuries or child foot healthcare; 2) podiatric surgery, which manages bone, joint and soft tissue disorders in the foot; 3) forensic podiatry; 4) nail surgery; 5) rehabilitation; 6) wound care, such as ischemic ulceration or neuropathic ulceration; 7) orthotic manufacturer; 8) academic research and teaching (Ottaway, 2003; Moore, 2009; Bennett, 2012; DiMaggio and Vernon, 2017). Podiatrists work with diverse patients and may provide non-prescription medication for minor conditions (Fittock, 2010). For more serious conditions, podiatrists may access and supply: 1) prescription medications (POM certificate); 2) orthotics (splints and braces); 3) cryotherapy; 4) electrosurgery; 5) ultrasonics; 6) specialised dressings; and 7) exercise therapies (Walsh et al., 2017) (Walsh et al., 2017). Aside from professional work, podiatrists are expected to carry out continuing professional development (CDP) each year and improve kept skills and update knowledge (HCPC, 2018).

REFERENCES

Bennett, P. J. (2012) ‘Types of foot problems seen by Australian podiatrists’, The Foot. Churchill Livingstone, 22(1), pp. 40–45. doi: 10.1016/J.FOOT.2011.11.002.

Bradshaw, T. W. (1999) ‘Multiprofessional care of the diabetic foot: the role of the podiatrist’, British Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation. MA Healthcare London , 6(1), pp. 8–13. doi: 10.12968/bjtr.1999.6.1.14015.

Bristow, I. (2009) ‘Podiatric dermatology: coming of age?’, Podiatry Now. Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, 12(3), pp. 2–2. Available at: http://go.galegroup.com/ps/anonymous?id=GALE%7CA198213657&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=1460731X&p=AONE&sw=w (Accessed: 10 August 2018).

Causby, R. et al. (2013) ‘Teaching of manual clinical skills in podiatry: theory and recommendations’, Journal of Foot and Ankle Research. BioMed Central, 6(S1), p. P1. doi: 10.1186/1757-1146-6-s1-p1.

DiMaggio, J. A. and Vernon, W. (2017) Forensic podiatry: Principles and methods, second edition, Forensic Podiatry: Principles and Methods, Second Edition. doi: 10.1201/9781315395029.

Fittock, A. (2010) ‘Non-medical prescribingby nurses, optometrists, pharmacists,physiotherapists, podiatrists and radiographers’.

Green, M. L. (2005) ‘A Train-the-Trainer Model for Integrating Evidence-Based Medicine Training into Podiatric Medical Education’, Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. The American Podiatric Medical Association , 95(5), pp. 497–504. doi: 10.7547/0950497.

HCPC - Health and Care Professions Council | Regulating health, psychological and social work professionals (2018). Available at: http://www.hcpc-uk.org/ (Accessed: 10 August 2018).

Helliwell, P. S. (2003) ‘Lessons to be learned: review of a multidisciplinary foot clinic in rheumatology’, Rheumatology. Oxford University Press, 42(11), pp. 1426–1427. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keg364.

Kim, P. J. et al. (2012) ‘Role of the podiatrist in diabetic limb salvage’, Journal of Vascular Surgery. Mosby, 56(4), pp. 1168–1172. doi: 10.1016/J.JVS.2012.06.091.

Levy, L. A. (2015) ‘The Role of Podiatric Medicine in the Health-Care Team’, Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, 105(2), pp. 198–199. doi: 10.7547/0003-0538-105.2.198.

Moore, P. (2009) ‘Role of podiatrists in promoting physical activity’, Podiatry Now. Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, 12(4), pp. 34–34. Available at: http://go.galegroup.com/ps/anonymous?id=GALE%7CA198213726&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=1460731X&p=AONE&sw=w (Accessed: 10 August 2018).

Ottaway, A. (2003) ‘Sports podiatrists: a role in the medical team?’, Sport Health, 21(2), p. 2 4-25.

Sloan, F. A., Feinglos, M. N. and Grossman, D. S. (2010) ‘Receipt of Care and Reduction of Lower Extremity Amputations in a Nationally Representative Sample of U.S. Elderly’, Health Services Research, 45(6p1), pp. 1740–1762. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2010.01157.x.

Walsh, T. P. et al. (2017) ‘The integration of a Podiatrist into an orthopaedic department: a cost-consequences analysis’, Journal of Foot and Ankle Research. BioMed Central, 10(1), p. 44. doi: 10.1186/s13047-017-0227-0.



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