Podiatrists specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of foot and leg problems.
As an apprentice podiatrist, you will help patients improve their mobility, independence, and quality of life. In addition, you will provide preventative care, diagnosis, and treatment for a wide range of foot, ankle, and lower limb conditions. Infections, deformities, and injuries, as well as foot and nail disorders linked to other serious health issues like diabetes, are instances of this.
You might work in a hospital, doctor’s office, or private practice with a team of nurses, physiotherapists, and doctors.
Podiatrists and chiropodists are both professions that are legally protected. However, to practise under either title, you must complete an approved undergraduate or postgraduate (pre-registration) degree programme before registering with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC).
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- assess patients feet and lower limbs and diagnose conditions
- discuss treatment options with patients
- diagnose and treat sports or dance injuries
- talk to individual patients about foot health, or give talks to groups
- share information with other health professionals like GPs
- carry out treatments and minor surgery using scalpels, chemicals and local anaesthetics
- screen children for foot problems
- do admin like keeping patient records, managing appointments and ordering supplies
- supervise assistants.
- If you’re working in the NHS, entry-level salaries range from £25,655 to £31,534 (band 5 of the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) Pay Rates).
- Salaries at specialist level range from £32,306 to £39,027 (band 6), rising to £40,057 to £45,839 (band 7) for team leader and advanced podiatrist roles.
- Salaries at consultant podiatrist or specialist registrar in podiatric surgery level can range from £47,126 to £90,387 (bands 8a to d). At the very highest level, consultant podiatric surgeons can earn up to £108,075 (band 9).
- If you work in a private practice, you can typically earn around £20,000 to £50,000.
Working hours in the NHS are typically 38 to 40 hours per week. If you’re based in private practice you may work more flexibly and might have to do some evenings and weekends for the convenience of patients.
You could work at a GP practice, at a client’s home, at a health centre or in an NHS or private hospital.
You may need to wear a uniform.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice podiatrist include:
- Level 6 Podiatrist – Entry requirements for this level include 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, preferably including biology, for a degree apprenticeship.
This qualification typically takes 4 years to complete as a mix of workplace learning and academic study at an approved university.
On a podiatrist apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- knowledge of medicine and how the body works
- customer service skills
- thinking and reasoning skills
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to learn through your work
- sensitivity and understanding
- active listening skills
- the ability to use your initiative
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device.
You’re likely to gain your first position and initial experience in the NHS. Outside of the NHS, expansion of the private sector means that you could also work within:
- high street podiatry services
- complementary therapy clinics
- sports clubs
- private clinics
- nursing homes
- occupational health centres.
To keep your registration with the HCPC, you must complete two years of continuous professional development (CPD). In addition, you’ll need to show that you’ve kept your skills and knowledge up to date and properly record any CPD activities you attend.
Membership in relevant professional organisations allows you to have several CPD opportunities. These include regional and national training events, courses, seminars, and conferences where you can network and share ideas with other podiatrists. Insurance and member welfare are two of the other things they provide.
With experience and further HCPC-approved training at the Masters level, it is possible to register with the HCPC as a podiatrist performing podiatric surgery. A list of courses is included in the HCPC list of authorised programmes.
Part-time business skills, marketing, and financial management courses may be advantageous if you are considering self-employment.
Within the NHS, there is a well-defined professional path.
Although most podiatrists begin their careers in general practices, you may opt to specialise in a particular area of podiatry. For example, you may focus on high-risk patient care by working with patients with an underlying illness or condition that puts their lower limbs at risk of infection or disability. One example is working in rheumatology, dermatology, or diabetes.
Academic research at a university, hospital or specialised institution is possible with additional credentials.
Another option for skilled podiatrists is to open their own private practice. While this may be expensive in terms of equipment and insurance, it might allow flexible employment and large income advantages if effective. Consider renting a room at a clinic or splitting the cost with other practitioners.