How can I become a podiatrist?

A specialism involving the care and maintenance of the foot and ankle, podiatry plays a significant role in ensuring pain free mobility for people of all ages and backgrounds. We need our feet to function to the best of their ability, and considering the fact that we use them when walking, running, cycling, and doing virtually anything that requires movement, it comes as no surprise that the lower limb can become quite vulnerable to damage and disease. Podiatrists are specialists trained in the care of the foot, and this article looks at the process involved in becoming a podiatrist.

Why become a podiatrist?

Podiatry has definitely become a more significant presence in healthcare since its inception in the UK a few decades ago. Now there are a number of important podiatric sub-specialties with roles within the NHS and the private sector.

Becoming a podiatrist offers you the chance to make a serious difference to the lives of others. Many patients who are referred to podiatrists suffer from serious complications of the foot that can cause chronic pain and seriously impede their mobility, and hence quality of life. The rewards of helping people in need are one of the many attractions of podiatry.

The field itself has evolved extensively and now allows for many areas of sub-specialisation, meaning that your career can be flexible and conform to your particular interest. Beyond the actual practice, podiatrists can often operate under flexible hours, particularly in private practice, although this is always under the discretion of an employer and area of work.

Podiatry is also financially rewarding with starting salaries in the region of £19,000 and increasing to as much as £90,000 for consultants operating private practices.

Despite economic strains the employment rates of graduate podiatrists remain extremely high. About 83% of graduates secure work within half a year of completing their course, while a full complement of 100% have thus far found employment within a full year of graduation.

Qualifying and training

The standards that need to be met to become a registered podiatrist are set up authorities like the Health and Care Professions Council. At present, if you want to become a podiatrist, you need a strong secondary school education followed by a university degree from an accredited schools of podiatry.

The course requirements involve both taught and practical components to ensure that by the time of graduation, a budding podiatrist has both the theoretical backing and hands on experience needed to practice safely and without constant supervision.

There are 13 schools of podiatry in the UK, each of which offers the course to a standard recognised by the HPC and podiatric authorities. The degree itself is a Bachelors in Science with Honours, taught through a series of assessed modules. The course structure and content is more or less the same across all of the schools in the UK, allowing for continuity in the training and assessment of podiatrists.

Upon completion of the course, a graduate needs to register with the Health and Care Professions Council to practice legally in the UK. Upon registration a graduate podiatrist can seek work in the NHS or private practice.

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