What does a podiatrist do?

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Podiatrists are allied health professionals who specialise in conditions pertaining to the feet, ankle and lower legs. They also provide preventative care and advice on how to improve mobility, independence and the quality of life for their patients.

As a podiatrist you would treat a wide range of defects, injuries and infections of the lower leg and foot including ingrown toenails, bunions, corns and calluses. You would also treat foot and nail conditions associated with other major health disorders such as diabetes or oedema. Prescribing and making orthotic inserts for patients is also part of a podiatrist’s responsibility. Orthotic inserts provide patients with the additional support they need to help them walk without discomfort.

Having expert knowledge of the mechanics of the body is absolutely necessary in order to preserve and restore movement in patients.

Typical tasks would include:

  • Diagnoses, assessment and treatment of injuries, abnormalities and diseases related to the lower limb and foot in individuals across all age groups
  • Providing advice and treatment for high-risk patients such as the elderly and those with higher risk of amputation
  • Employing appropriate therapeutic or surgical techniques to treat foot and lower leg issues
  • Using different types of equipment from dressings and surgical instruments to X-Rays, lasers, grinders, treatment tables and shaping equipment
  • Prescribing, ordering and fitting orthotics and other mobility aids when necessary
  • Educating patients on matters concerning foot health

Podiatrists work closely with other medical practitioners including physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and complementary practitioners in order to provide patients with the most comprehensive treatment.

Education and training requirements

To practise in this field, you will first need to complete a four year Bachelor of Podiatry degree or a four year Bachelor of Science/Master of Podiatric Practice.

This is a full time course that includes theoretical and practical lessons, as well as clinical experience. La Trobe University in Melbourne and Charles Sturt University in New South Wales are two of the few universities in Australia that offer accredited courses in Podiatry. After you become a qualified podiatrist, you will need to register with the podiatry board in the state you wish to work in.

If you are fascinated by the biomechanics of the foot and the diverse array of medical conditions that can present in the feet, then you will find a career in podiatry very satisfying.  As a new graduate you could start earning an annual average income of about $50,000. Experienced podiatrists earn an average annual income of about $90,000.

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