When you put your feet into the hands of a chiropodist/podiatrist, what does that mean? What is a chiropodist / podiatrist and how do you become one? “Chiropodist” and “Podiatrist” are recognised, registered and legally protected titles meaning that only those who undertaken the appropriate training are entitled to use them.
To become a podiatrist takes a minimum of three years, full time University education. This is normally preceded by A levels or other appropriate qualifications. There are currently 13 Universities which offer the Bachelors degree in podiatry [BSc (Hons)]. Within the course, the students study a range of topics including medicine, surgery, pharmacology along with anatomy, physiology and all aspects of podiatry itself. Most people are surprised to learn how much podiatrists have to learn about general health and medicine itself – as many conditions that arise in the feet maybe a sign of other problems elsewhere.
Of course, just as important is the practical side and learning about patient’s foot conditions, how they are recognised and treated. All students must log and complete over a 1000 hours’ clinical time being exposed to a range of clinical conditions which they have to diagnose and treat. Within this, students learn the necessary skills and are trained in the use of medicines and drugs along with local anaesthetics. Performing minor surgery is also an integral part of the training course.
Upon completion of the three-year degree programme, graduates may then apply to the Health and Profession Council to become registered. Only after they have become registered can they legally call themselves a chiropodist or podiatrist. There are currently only around 13 000 chiropodists / podiatrists practising in the UK. This means that due to small numbers that demand always outstrips supply and so more podiatrists are required to meet the growing population.
With changes in the Government legislation in 2014, it now means that podiatrists can undertake further training to become an independent prescriber. This means that once completed they can prescribe a full range of medicines, much like a GP. This course can only be undertaken once the podiatrist has qualified.
More information about the training and podiatry as a career is available from: www.careersinpodiatry.com