My first step into health care occurred when I was a 17 year old Soldier and was 'volunteered' to attend a Medics course. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of military life and remained within this medical field throughout my relatively short yet distinguished career.
In civilian life, I soon found myself in a challenging role as a Support Worker for a charity involved in supporting young adults with learning disabilities. My role was to support individuals in their own homes, encourage independence and assist with integrating into the community.
Following relocation to Hampshire, I worked as a Community Support Worker for a domiciliary care company. My role involved assisting senior citizens with personal care, emotional support and everyday tasks. After attending College I gained promotion to Area Coordinator which was an office based role and involved the allocation of work to the Support Workers and liaising with Social Services & service users regarding the care package required.
It was during this time that I noticed a distinct lack of NHS Podiatry & Chiropody services within the community which led me to investigate the role of a Foot Health Professional. I decided to study at the prestigious SMAE Institute of foot health who have been training Chiropodists & Podiatrists since 1919 and from 2003 have also trained Foot Health Professionals. The duration of the SMAE course is 12 months plus 100 hours of clinical practice and I am proud to have achieved the grade of Distinction.
What is the difference between a Podiatrist, Chiropodist & Foot Health Professional? Podiatrist & Chiropodist are interchangeable professional titles which are protected by law. In order to be a Podiatrist or Chiropodist an individual must have completed a course recognised by the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC). For a Podiatrist, this is currently a 3 or 4 year BSc (Hons) degree in Podiatric Medicine at one of 13 UK Universities and the completion of over 1000 hours of clinical practice. The title Podiatrist is relatively new to the UK and was adopted by the HCPC in 2003 to bring the UK in line with the rest of the western world. Prior to 2003 a Chiropodist would have completed a diploma in Podiatric Medicine. Many Podiatrists have additional qualifications in local anaesthesia and prescribing medicines (POMS) and may also specialise in areas such as biomechanics, orthotics, diabetes, sports injuries & surgery. Podiatrists generally are renowned as the foot & ankle experts yet they also carry out routine foot care as well as their specialisms.
In comparison, a Foot Health Professional (FHP) is an individual who has studied for 12 months at a foot health establishment. The SMAE Institute is the largest and most respected foot health college and also offer additional training for Podiatrists. FHPs who train at SMAE complete 12 months of theory study followed by 100 hours of clinical practice. Foot Health Professional's are trained to carry out basic routine foot health treatments only. This includes activities such as nail cutting, verruca treatment, callus removal, thickened nail reduction, fungal nail treatments to name a few.