Renowned US Podiatrist Dr Kevin Kirby recently posted an article answering whether he would “do it all again” and enter podiatry as his chosen career. It’s a good question (he would BTW), but what would that student experience look like today?

We all make assumptions about what it is to be a “podiatry student”, but too often these are based on our own experiences (often some years ago!), often under a different education and funding system and in a different job market. So what exactly does a (Salford!) podiatry student experience today?

Staff and student on clinic 2

Some things never change and everyone has to meet statutory requirements in anatomy, physiology, medicine, locomotion studies, and so on (see here: http://www.salford.ac.uk/ug-courses/podiatry), and clock up 1000 hours of clinical practice.  These conditions are dictated by national bodies as part of course validation (which happens every few years) but the details of these topics and mode of delivery is specific to each University. So, no two podiatry schools are the same.

 

For example, anatomy is taught by Dr Daniel Parker, who isn’t a Podiatrist but has a first degree related to functional anatomy, and a MSc and PhD in foot tissue biomechanics. So anatomy learning benefits from his much wider subject expertise (he has also been involved in NHS based orthoses research related to the diabetic foot and runs our digital 3D printing capability too).

 

We have our own in house clinical centre and clinical skills rooms to complement student learning on external clinical placements. We run clinics 5 days a week (about 10,000 appointments a year) for routine skin and nail care, plus specialist clinics for children, sports injuries, MSK, nail surgery, and verruca needling.  We are also linked to clinics for the homeless in Manchester.

 

In year 1 clinical work is 100% in house, moving into various NHS settings 1 day a week in year 2 and specialist block placements in year 3 (including high risk and MSK clinics, and vascular assessments). These clinical placements are therefore a natural extension of our campus (and staff team) and we support placement educators through twice yearly curriculum updates and training in student assessment and feedback. In fact, these educators (i.e. real world clinicians) are responsible for signing off the clinical and professional skills portfolio that captures the performance of students in real world clinics.

 

 

Reflecting the changing employment destinations for podiatry graduates and more flexible career pathways, we are developing private sector clinical placements. Would you like to host some of our students and become an extension of our podiatry school? If so contact Veronica Newton for further details of our clinical mentorship scheme.

We also have new modules covering enterprise in podiatry and intrapreneurial skills, ensuring development of business and digital competencies. Part of this is delivered by the award winning Salford business school plus external industry speakers.  We are well connected to industry, working with major brands including Clark’s footwear and Scholl, and there is also a spin off company that makes orthotic insoles too (salfordinsole).

Podiatry students are part of the wider University community. The School of Health Sciences also delivers degrees in prosthetics and orthotics, psychology, public health, radiography, physiotherapy, sports science and other disciplines, and these help shape the educational context for podiatry students.

Perhaps the best example of this is how being part of a larger health sciences community supports investment in facilities.  The 24/7 “library” has just had a £6.2M refurbishment, and offers interactive learning spaces rather than the passive environment of a traditional library. There are half a million e-books and more than 30,000 electronic journals to access. All health students will benefit from the planned campus “biomedical village”, which will build learning into increasingly real world settings. Authenticity of learning is at the heart of the student journey.

Lets not forget where we are too. Salford is just 1 mile from Manchester city centre (we are closer to Manchester than many parts of Manchester University) and there are some 100,000 students across Greater Manchester.  That a podiatry student journey is part of a wider institutional (University), sector (health care and higher education) and regional context is often forgotten.

In case all this sounds too serious, yes, students still have a union and a bar and a good time!

Does this sound like your podiatry school experience?

100%

 

Key stats from the National Student Survey for Salford Podiatry (Official data collected by HEFCE).

  • 100% of Podiatry students agreed staff are good at explaining things
  • 100% of Podiatry students agreed staff made the subject interesting
  • 100% of Podiatry students were satisfied overall
  • 98% of Podiatry students agreed they got sufficient advice and guidance
  • 95% of Podiatry students are in work / study six months after finishing

Just for fun, do you think you could pass current Podiatry exams? Here are some past questions:

  1. Describe the clinical features of Hallux Limitus
  2. What type of drug is frusemide and why might your patient take this?
  3. How can we assess different components of the neurological system?