Podiatrist

Podiatrists diagnose and treat a wide range of mobility and medical conditions of the feet and lower limbs. They help to improve a person’s movement, independence and quality of life.

To work in the NHS, podiatrists must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Starting your career

Choosing subjects at school

To get on a course that could lead to a career as a podiatrist, useful subjects include:

  • Human Biology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Maths
  • English
  • Care

A Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare, taken in S5 or S6, could help you gain new skills and valuable work experience.

Find out more about apprenticeships at apprenticeships.scot.

Work placement

If you’re at school or thinking of changing career, doing a work placement could help you when applying to college, university or for a job in healthcare. You’ll learn new skills, improve your knowledge and discover what it’s like to work in the health service. Find out how to apply for work experience with the NHS.

College and university

Most universities accept a wide range of qualifications, giving you the option of applying directly from school or going to college first.

At college, you could do an HND in Applied Biological Science or an HND in Applied Sport Science.

Widening participation supports adult learners who want to go to university. If you’re an adult with few or no qualifications, you can get into higher education through the Scottish Widening Access Programme (SWAP). Many universities also provide access programmes to help you get the degree entry qualifications you need.

Two universities in Scotland offer undergraduate programmes in Podiatry, approved by the HCPC:

  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Queen Margaret University

Pre-registration undergraduate programmes take 4 years full-time.

For more information on related further and higher education courses, search My World of Work. You should check specific entry requirements before applying.

The role

As a podiatrist, you'll diagnose and treat a wide range of mobility and medical conditions that affect the foot health of people of all ages. These include:

  • arthritic conditions
  • skin conditions
  • diabetes
  • heart and blood disorders
  • disorders of the nervous system
  • sports injuries to the foot and lower limb

What you'll do

Some of the typical tasks of a podiatrist include:

  • providing advice on foot care
  • carrying out treatments for ingrown toenails or fungal nail infections
  • assessing the gait patterns of patients with biomechanical problems and sports injuries to the foot and lower limb
  • specialising in the treatment of ‘high risk’ patients within hospital departments including vascular and rheumatology outpatient units and renal wards
  • providing insoles, padding or supports to relieve foot arch or heel pain
  • caring for people with diabetes who may have circulation problems
  • carrying out minor foot surgery, including nail and minor soft tissue surgery
  • supervising students and healthcare support workers

Top skills

You’ll need these skills:

  • caring for people
  • working in a team
  • communicating with people
  • problem-solving skills
  • persuading and motivating people
  • observation skills

Who you’ll work with

Podiatrists work independently or in multidisciplinary teams with other healthcare professionals including:

  • physiotherapists
  • dietitians
  • orthotists
  • podiatric surgeons
  • doctors
  • nurses
  • healthcare support workers

Working environment

You could work in:

  • health centres
  • a person’s own home
  • nursing homes
  • hospitals

Useful information

To work as a podiatrist in NHSScotland, you’ll need to:

Did you know?

There are almost 13,000 registered podiatrists in the UK and over 700 working in the NHS in Scotland.

Learning and development

The professional body for podiatrists in the UK is the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (IOCP). You can become a member once you’ve qualified as a podiatrist.

During your career, you'll have to keep your skills and knowledge up to date with Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The College of Podiatry provides courses, conferences and seminars where you can exchange ideas and update your skills.

Career progression

With training and experience, you may choose to specialise in a particular area of practice such as:

  • sports injuries
  • critical care
  • care of the elderly
  • working with children
  • caring for cancer patients
  • podiatric surgery

You could also progress to advanced or consultant podiatrist roles. As head of a podiatry service, you would be responsible both for a team of staff and for managing a budget.

There are also teaching and research opportunities.