Working to improve the independence, mobility, general health and quality of life of patients- chiropodists (or podiatrists as they are also known) are medical professionals charged with diagnosing and treating foot and ankle problems. Enjoying a diverse workload, chiropodists benefit from being active in an area of medicine that offers a wide scope for specialism.
What do chiropodists do?
The duty of a chiropodist is to assess, diagnose and treat disorders which afflict the feet and ankles- with the basic aim of keeping the individual in question mobile. Issuing advice on how to maintain health in these areas of the anatomy, as well as how to prevent the onset of problems, they work with a wide range of individuals from all walks (if you’ll excuse the pun) of life. From sportspeople who have been injured to old-timers dealing with the likes of arthritis and young children having problems developing their own mobility, the day-to-day work of a modern chiropodists may involve any or all of the following:
- issuing advice on foot care to patients
- discussing treatment options with patients
- carrying out treatments and minor surgery
- providing long-term care for high-risk patients (diabetes sufferers etc.)
- screening children for potential problems
- diagnosing and treating sports-related injuries
- planning workloads and maintaining accurate patient records
- supervising assistants
As is common within the medical professions, chiropodists are often required to liaise with other medical professionals on certain matters involving the welfare of their patients. Moreover, an aptitude in addressing and educating the public on areas of personal specialty is likely to be required.
How much do chiropodists earn?
Tyical salary expectations for a chiropodist is hard to pin down, given the many differences between the NHS and private sector health care. The payment system within the NHS is known as 'Agenda for Change' (AfC) and separates pay into various 'bands'.
Medical professions are well known for their attractive rates of pay. This is no different within the field of chiropody. Projected salaries as outlined by the National Career Service are as follows:
Experience Level of Practitioner
Typical Salary (Per Anum)
Newly Qualified (AfC Band 5)
£21,388 - £27,901
Intermediate (AfC Band 6)
£25,783 - £34,530
up to £40,588
What qualifications do you need?
Any individual wishing to work as a chiropodist/podiatrist must first complete an honours degree in the subject which is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Upon completion of this three year qualification, candidates are then required to apply for state registration with the HCPC, as well as seek full membership of a relevant professional body such as the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, Alliance of Private Sector Practitioners or British Chiropody and Podiatry Association.
Of course, to gain entry onto an applicable degree programme, you’ll need the appropriate prerequisites. In the UK these include at least 5 A-C grade GCSE’s (including maths and English) and at least three A Levels- one of which must be in biological science. Whilst the grade band requirements will vary from institution to institution, the higher the grades attained the better.
What skills and qualities do you need?
As is the case with literally any profession, a basic and personal interest in the field of chiropody will help immensely with any mission to become one. This is practical professional field which requires manual skills alongside a caring and kind nature. According to the National Careers Service, the personal qualities required to become a chiropodist are:
- a keen interest and ability in science
- strong communication skills
- the ability to work under pressure and deal calmly with all types of people
- practical skills to carry out delicate treatments
- the ability to organise and priorities your workload
- the ability to work on your own and in consultation with others
- commercial awareness and business skills (in the event you opt for self-employment)
- a full driving licence and your own transport
Some podiatrists may have two or more jobs at the same time, e.g. teaching, self-employment, and work in the NHS. Chiropodists working in hospitals may work in different locations or wards, treating a wide variety of in-patients, or in general or specialist out-patient clinics.