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What is a Podiatrist

What is a Podiatrist
Photo: What is a Podiatrist
A podiatrist is an Allied Health professional who specialises in treating the feet.  They can treat conditions such as toe fungus, ingrown toenails, corns, calluses, bunions, infections and foot injuries.

Podiatrists can perform ingrown toenail surgery using a local anaesthetic.  This is a very common procedure.  They can also treat diabetic and arthritic patients, who may need the services of a podiatrist to cut their toenails correctly or to monitor any changes in their feet.

Podiatrists also check the blood pressure to a patient’s feet to determine whether the patient is having an adequate amount of blood flowing through to the toes.  They can also treat ulcers and dress the ulcerated wounds.

Podiatrists can specialise in different areas of interest, such as sports medicine,
paediatrics, diabetes, biomechanics, arthritis and gerontology.

In the sports medicine field, podiatrists can monitor the condition of an athlete’s feet, treat any injuries that may have occurred, observe how the athlete moves, and can advise on the best footwear.  Sports injuries that a podiatrist may treat include plantar fasciitis, shin pain, a sprained ankle, stress fractures or Achilles tendonitis.

A podiatrist can also prescribe and make orthotic inserts for patients.  Sometimes a patient needs extra support in their shoes to help them walk without discomfort.  A podiatrist will assess and diagnose whether an orthotic device would make a difference.  If so, the podiatrist will make a cast of the foot and then create the appropriate device, whether it’s for functional or palliative reasons.

A functional orthotic is a shoe insert that helps the patient to walk normally and is normally made from a thermoplastic substance.

A palliative orthotic is made from rubber or foam and is designed to help people who have painful feet or who suffer from ulcers to be able to wear shoes comfortably.  Patients whose feet are deformed may be able to experience relief when wearing palliative orthoses.

Podiatrists can work in private practice, in hospitals, nursing homes, sports medicine practices or in community health clinics.

How do you become a podiatrist?

You need to complete a four year Bachelor of Science/Master of Podiatric Practice degree or a four year Bachelor of Podiatry degree.  This is a full time course and is available at a few universities in Australia, including La Trobe University in Melbourne and Charles Sturt University in New South Wales.  The courses include theoretical and practical lessons, as well as clinical experience.

Once you have become a qualified podiatrist, you will need to register with the podiatry board in the state you wish to work in.

If you’re fascinated by the biomechanics of the foot and the array of medical conditions that can present in the feet, then a career as a podiatrist may be very rewarding.  New graduates start earning approximately $50,000 per year, while experienced podiatrists can earn up to $90,000 per annum.

If you enjoy helping people to gain more mobility and independence by alleviating their foot pain, then podiatry might just be the career for you.

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