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A podiatry assistant, sometimes known as a chiropody assistant, is a person who takes care of other people’s feet. This person is employed to assist a qualified podiatrist, a medical expert who specializes in the feet and ankles. In some cases, an assistant will take on this role as part of his or her training to become a fully qualified podiatrist.
A main part of the podiatry assistant’s job is to cut toe nails and apply dressings and bandages to a patient's feet. He or she may be assigned patients of his or her own who have already been seen by the podiatrist. This helps the medical professional keep his or her workload free for new patients and also contributes to the assistant's training.
An assistant may also perform some clerical work as part of his or her duties. Updating client records, invoicing and contacting clients may also be part of the role. He or she may also visit clients in their home if they are not able to travel.
There are no formal qualifications required to become a podiatry assistant, and training is usually given on the job. Regulations regarding the hours required to become trained as a podiatrist differ from one area to the next, but the expected on-the-job training is usually around 500 hours.
Included in these training hours is actual patient time in the clinic with the podiatrist. The podiatry assistant is also subject to routine assessments from time to time in the form of oral and theoretical exams. Practical work is an important part of becoming a qualified podiatrist.
The assistant must be fully aware of all forms of foot hygiene. He or she must also undertake intensive study on a range of foot related subjects, including the pathology of skin and nails, microbiology and anatomy. This person must also understand circulatory problems that can affect the feet and lower legs. Proper sterilization of instruments and operating procedures will also be studied.
There are different venues in which the podiatry assistant can gain his or her training and qualifications. He or she can apply to study at a private practice or in public hospitals. There are some colleges that offer courses to fulfill the qualifications necessary to become a podiatrist or chiropodist. Information on these courses is available from local medical schools or through a public library.