A health career that lets you stand tall
Find out how far a podiatry career can take you, with AUT's podiatry clinical educator Megan Catterall.
Podiatry – a growing profession with expanding opportunities - video
Gaby Solomona: What was the moment for you when you were like I am going to be a podiatrist?
Megan Catterall: I think it was really when I realised what it actually encompasses. It’s so unique and people use their feet every day. Actually we specialise in the hip down. A lot of people think we just stick with feet. And so I just really enjoyed the uniqueness of a specialty that we can actually really dive straight into.
Gaby Solomona: And so what are some of the skill sets and qualities that one needs to become a podiatrist?
Megan Catterall: I think being a really good communicator, because there’s so many intricate little joints and muscles and parts that we deal with, extracting information out of people is actually really important. So I think the passion for helping people, a little bit of empathy and communication are probably the key things.
And no sense of smell! But no, the myth of you know people coming in with really smelly feet, there are the odd one or two, but yeah most people are actually really good.
Gaby Solomona: Is there a need for podiatrists?
Megan Catterall: Absolutely. Podiatry in New Zealand and around the world actually is still very, I’d say still a relatively young profession, and areas of specialties are becoming a lot more diverse so we’ve got areas like diabetes and rheumatology, paediatrics, sports, people are going to start seeing podiatrists more.
Podiatry can take you far
Podiatry is a career that can take you far if that’s what you choose, says Megan Catterall, Podiatry Clinical Educator at Auckland University of Technology.
A growing profession with expanding opportunities
“You might just want to cut toenails but you can also become quite specialised in your field,” says Megan as she talks about opportunities in podiatry.
“It’s exciting because there’s something for everybody. If you get the experience and get your skills up you can grow in your profession and have that wonderful sports career where you have the All Blacks and the Silver Ferns coming to you!”
Because podiatry is still a relatively young profession in New Zealand and worldwide, Megan points out that’s likely to mean that as awareness grows so will the need for podiatrists.
“Specialties are becoming a lot more diverse so we’ve got areas like diabetes and rheumatology, paediatrics, sports...”
Podiatry – it’s not about diets – it’s your body from the hips to the feet
One of the turning points to Megan taking up a career in podiatry was, as a keen sportsperson, the realisation of just how important your feet, knees and everything from the hips down actually is.
“A podiatrist is not, as some people seem to think, a doctor who specialises in diets, nor are they just dealing with feet. They specialise from the hip down.”
Being able to question your clients about their foot problems
Early in her career, Megan learned that being a really good communicator is essential for the role.
“When you’re experiencing some issues, particularly with your feet, it’s quite difficult to describe them, and because there’re so many intricate little joints and muscles and parts that we deal with, being able to extract information from people is really important.”
A passion for helping people and a hands-on uni programme
Having an interest in the sciences, like biology, is also valuable. But she emphasises that, “it’s probably more important that you’re hard working and have a passion for health and helping people – and have no sense of smell,” she says laughing. “Actually it’s just a myth that people come in with really smelly feet!”
Just as you needn’t worry about foot odour, neither should you be concerned with getting bogged down in theory, as the podiatry degree is a very applied programme.
“Our degree is really hands-on practical – you start seeing patients straight away, which helps you later on in your own practice or working for other people.”
A career that offers a flexible lifestyle and good income
Megan also sees many career changers enrol for the degree because they’re looking for a career that fits with their family responsibilities.
“It’s not a profession that’s restricted by hours – you don’t have to do a nine-to-five day, you can work around family. I’ve got two little girls and I can see patients in school hours. I love that flexibility, and the money is great if you work hard and you’re good.”
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Updated 23 Jan 2019