Thinking of training to be a Foot Health Practitioner? With an ageing population and a reduction in NHS Podiatry provision for only the most high-risk and vulnerable patients, there has never been a better time to consider a career in Foot Health.

Brenda Griffin – Only Footcare Instructor

You may be looking for an opportunity to become self-employed after enduring the vulnerability of being employed during the pandemic or simply have come to a point in your life where you want to work hard and reap the rewards for yourself, enjoying the freedoms that working for yourself gives you.

Becoming a Foot Health Practitioner (FHP) isn’t for everyone. It takes a lot of independent study hours, usually working alongside your current employment and family commitments, but those who undertake training and continue to progress their careers with quality continued professional development will tell you they love their jobs and wish they had taken the plunge years earlier.

Foot Health Practitioner Training

Every worthwhile career starts with training. One quick Google Search will throw up a whole host of training providers which range from short online only courses to courses that offer you a pathway to a degree in podiatry. How you navigate this information will depend on what you want your career to look like.

Firstly, you need to know what is the difference between a Podiatrist (POD), a Chiropodist, a Foot Health Practitioner (FHP) and a Pedicurist! They’re all capable of looking after feet but their job roles and educational training vary vastly. Understanding the foot health care world will help you make the right decision for your future.

Once you are qualified, your skillset will just keep expanding over time. With our foot health care training we furnish professionals with new skills to help them expand and grow their practice with innovative products and techniques.

What is a Foot Health Practitioner? Different Types of Practitioners:

A Podiatrist has a degree in Podiatry from university. They may have studied for 3 years full time, or worked towards a degree on a part time program or even completed a Podiatry Degree via an apprenticeship program while working in a podiatry clinic or an NHS Trust. The opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’ is appealing. The Royal College of Podiatry has loads of information on their website, where you can find out everything you need to know about podiatry careers and work out which route is best for you.

In the UK we haven’t trained any new Chiropodists since 1999. Those that were trained prior to 2000, have mostly upgraded their qualifications and have now completed a Podiatry degree equivalent. They may use the older moniker of Chiropodist as many elderly people still know and understand this term, but in essence, most would use both Chiropodist and Podiatrist or state that they offer Chiropody and Podiatry services. They may also be a member of The Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. Both Podiatrists and Chiropodists are able to register with the Health and Care Professionals Council and work under their guidance and regulation.

Foot Health Practitioners started to be trained in the UK in about 2000, following the change in Chiropody training provision. FHP’s do not have a degree in Podiatry and can’t be registered with the HCPC, but they are an invaluable addition to the workforce and play an important role in foot health care. In fact, there are probably more FHP’s in the UK workforce than Podiatrists, but as they are unregulated the actual numbers are unknown.

Pedicurists are usually trained to Level 2 and may work in beauty salons, nail bars and spas’. They offer cosmetic foot care services, but are nevertheless usually trained in A&P and have a good understanding of nail knowledge and basic skin care knowledge. They are not able to work with a scalpel or work with clients who have medical foot care needs.

Where To Train As A Foot Health Practitioner

The Royal College of Podiatry is currently working on how to incorporate FHP’s into their workforce in order to bolster the NHS podiatry teams. They offer an Assistant Practitioner Training Program for those who want to work in the NHS under a Lead Podiatrist.

The Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists also acknowledge the importance of FHP’s in the workforce and have opened their own training college – The College of Foot Health – which offers foundation training in foot health, tutored by Podiatrists. It also offers an interesting variety of ongoing CPD Courses to its members as well as insurance and a listing on their professional register. FHP’s who have not trained with the College of Foot Health can still apply to be members provided they meet their criteria and are sponsored by another member.

The SMAE Institute is one of the oldest training establishments offering FHP training. They used to train Chiropodists but made the change at the turn of the century. They uniquely offer FHP’s the opportunity to upgrade their qualifications to degree level in partnership with Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh.

What To Look Out For Before Signing Up To Train

There are many other training providers offering either Level 3 or 4 qualifications in Foot Health. The cost and quality of the courses vary, but there are definitely some important points you should consider before you part with your hard-earned money.

Are they a dedicated foot care training provider?

Schools that specialise in foot health care training are always going to be more passionate, more experienced and offer better support than large multinational colleges that offer all sorts of career and recreational courses.

The principal of a specialist school is usually qualified as a Chiropodist or Podiatrist and has done the job you are training to do. They have real life experience and a wealth of knowledge to share with their students. Take a look at Finest Feet Training Academy for more information.

Is the qualification offered a Certificate or Diploma?

A certificate is generally considered a less intense qualification, as it takes less time to complete, sometimes only a day or only online modules. It is often the cheapest qualification offered. The content of the course is variable.

A Diploma offers more in-depth study and practical work and prepares the learner for a professional role as well as more complex study. Usually the practical element is 2 weeks long and very intensive. Take a look at Innovate Awarding for more information.

Has the qualification on offer been listed on The Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)?

RQF is an Ofqual regulated system of cataloguing qualifications. Qualifications on the RQF can be found by their size or level. Qualifications at a given level can differ depending on their content and purpose.

Qualifications not on the RQF vary in quality and content,

How much self-study do you have to complete?

Quality organisations will provide you with a series of modules, usually done online that include core topics like Anatomy & Physiology, some independent research and essays. This part of the training can take many months to complete, as you work towards your qualifications. How quickly you complete the work will always depend on your motivation and time available to study.

How much practical work is included in the course?

Courses that offer no practicals, or ask you to arrange your own should be avoided. You absolutely must have some practical element to your training. It is generally accepted that 2 weeks should be the minimum amount of practical work.

Usually students do have to travel away from home for the 2 week practical, but most find it a great experience, getting to know their cohort that are going through the training together. Lifelong friendships are often formed during this time.

What support is offered by the training provider?

Support to get you through the course – will you have a dedicated tutor who can guide and advise you through your studies?

Post training support is invaluable and you should be able to go back to your tutor or join a dedicated Facebook group associated with the school to be supported through your career

Do they offer ongoing CPD courses so that you can increase your knowledge?

Getting your FHP qualification is just the start of your career as an FHP but you will want to gain more knowledge and experience as you progress.

Once you have completed your initial training, the learning doesn’t have to stop. Throughout your career you are likely to continue to learn and grow with new methods and techniques to help your clients. At OnlyFootcare we run our own training courses to offer professionals the qualifications to enable them to use The Verruca Pen, as well as in nail reconstruction and correction with Onyfix and Toeflex training courses. This gives you access to a network of fellow practitioners, and a place on our directory. We’re also of course on hand to provide professional foot care products, all approved and sourced by our experienced team of foot care professionals.

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