Why would you want to be a podiatrist?
Every podiatrist get’s asked these questions daily by our clients, friends, casual acquaintances, even strangers! I guess working with feet is not for everyone. Seeing as it’s a question I get asked dozens of times a week I thought I’d bring you my podiatry origin story. It’s not quite Batman/Bruce Wayne, but there’s tale to be told.
How do you do what you do?
Why would you want to work with feet all day?
These questions are asked every single session in clinic by people who just can’t understand what makes a podiatrist wake up go to work and look at feet for a living.
Well, I guess my origin story is a little bit different to most because I didn’t come to podiatry straight out of high school.
As a young fella back in high school in Geelong, I always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I wanted to be an aerospace engineer.
Thankfully, my school was on board with this a geared all of my studies towards aerospace engineering. When I got my marks at the end of year 12 a ticket to aerospace engineering RMIT University awaited.
Boy was I excited. And then the first day. Sitting there in auditorium. 600 wannabe engineers.
I’ve never been so bored in my life.
The first few weeks of classes went by and it was the same thing. Aerospace Engineers. Conversations about gears, wheels and wings. All I wanted to do was talk with people, find out how they’re going, what are they up to?
I was heading down the wrong path. I knew engineering wasn’t the degree for me.
So much to my parents disappointment, I decided to leave the field of aerospace engineering. I took up work as a barista and worked in a nightclub in Geelong. I had some great years and experiences making coffees, running plates and pouring beers.
Working in hospitality I got to meet thousands of people and had great conversations. I knew that there was something in that.
This talking to people, helping people, making lattes. These person to person interactions were really important to me.
A close friend of mine sat me down one day and said “Tim you’re gonna waste your brains if you don’t go back to school.”
“What are you gonna do? What do you like doing? Helping people? Talking to people? Applying physics to solve problems?.
Why don’t you come to work with me? See if you like what I do.”
You might have guessed it by now. My friend was (and is) a podiatrist.
So what the hell? At the time I had no real idea what a podiatrist actually did. I had nothing to lose so I gave it a go.
Observing my podiatrist friend at work was great. My eyes were opened to this new profession that uses all the interesting parts of engineering. Calculating forces working out what tissues are being stressed, why the foot or the ankle is sore. Using orthotics. But also getting to meet people, talk to people, help people.
And it didn’t hurt that my friend was closely aligned with the Geelong Footy club. There were a lot of conversations about football and the cats.
So when it came down to deciding whether I was going to be a podiatrist I thought:
I can help people.
I like talking to people.
Feet are pretty interesting.
And I’m pretty sure I can talk footy and the Cats as well.
So I called up the only university that offers podiatry in Victoria. La Trobe University. Got on the blower and said, “what do I need to do to become a podiatrist?”
To apply I had to send through a letter, my grades from school and Aerospace Engineering. 2 days later I’m moving from Geelong to Melbourne. Getting set it in new accommodation, starting university. Talk about a life changing event.
I couldn’t recommend college life at university any higher and podiatry as a profession as well.
We get to perform surgery. Fabricate orthotics, make things with your hands. Prescribe exercises. Work with kids. Work with the most at risk and disadvantaged in our society. We get to learn all about shoes, all the beautiful sneakers out there.
With podiatry the options are limitless. In my time in the profession I’ve seen our reach go from being toenail technicians to in demand elite medical team members for professional sports clubs and more.
To summarise, I was very lucky to find my way into podiatry over 12 years ago. In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to close the circle on my journey by teaching podiatry at LTU for the last seven years. I still feel as passionate about the profession and helping people as they ever had.
So what do I tell people when they ask me, why did you become a podiatrist? It really depends how far into a consultation we are when they ask.
If it’s at the start, I’ll take them through it. I’ll walk them through the complexities of the podiatry profession and my journey to find it.
But if we’re getting towards the end and I’ve got another couple of people waiting in the waiting room to come and see me I simply ask them.
Why wouldn’t you want to be a podiatrist?