Chiropody Assistant

The Job and What's Involved

Chiropody assistants (also known as foot care assistants or podiatry assistants) work under the supervision of registered chiropodists to provide general foot treatments and nail care to clients.

As a chiropody assistant, your duties would often include:

  • Cutting toe nails and applying dressings.
  • Providing advice on foot and nail care.
  • Treating patients who have already been assessed by a chiropodist/podiatrist.
  • Preparing patients for treatment.
  • Supporting a chiropodist during a procedure.
  • Carrying out general clerical tasks and making appointments.
  • Organising your time to manage a caseload of clients.

Your clients could include older people, those recovering from injury or surgery and people with circulation problems or diabetes.

You would typically work 37.5 hours a week as a full-time chiropody assistant. There may also be opportunities for part-time work and job sharing.

You could be based in a local clinic, health centre or hospital, and you may also visit some patients in their own homes. In the private sector you may be based in a private clinic or the chiropody department of a retail outlet (such as a large pharmacy chain).

You will usually wear a uniform for this work.

Starting salaries for chiropody assistants can be between around £13,600 and £16,700 a year. With experience and relevant qualifications, this could rise to around £21,800.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

You could find work within the NHS, in private practice and occasionally within retail, for example in a footwear chain or pharmacy setting.

If you would like to deliver routine foot care to the general public in a self-employed capacity (rather than in the NHS under the supervision of a qualified chiropodist), you could take a Diploma in Foot Health Practice, apply to join the relevant voluntary register and work as a Foot Health Practitioner (FHP). For details, see the Alliance of Private Sector Chiropody and Podiatry Practitioners website.

Jobs may be advertised in the press, such as the British Journal of Podiatry and Podiatry Now.

Education and Training

You may not need any formal qualifications to become a chiropody assistant. However, many employers will prefer you to have a good general standard of education, possibly including four or more GCSE's (A-C) in subjects such as maths, English and a science.

It could be an advantage to have paid or unpaid experience of working in a caring role or as a receptionist in a medical practice. Contact the voluntary services coordinator or manager at your local NHS Trust for further advice.

Another way to get experience would be through a Cadet Scheme or Apprenticeship (in many parts of the country cadet schemes have been replaced with Apprenticeships). Schemes vary between NHS Trusts, but will usually include clinical placements and studying towards an NVQ Level 3 in Health.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

You could also contact your local NHS Trust for details of both cadet and apprenticeship schemes.

You may need a driving licence and access to your own transport for some posts that involve visiting clients in their own home.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Once you are working as a chiropody assistant you will receive on-the-job training from your employer. This will usually involve around 500 hours in clinic, and studying a range of subjects such as:

- Skin and nail pathology
- Microbiology
- Anatomy
- Circulation
- Podiatric conditions

Your training could also include preparing a treatment room (for example, sterilising instruments and getting equipment ready for use) and learning the techniques you need to support a chiropodist during a procedure.

You will have written and practical tests during your training.

You may also be encouraged to take:

  • Relevant external courses, such as those run by the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists.
  • NVQ Level 3 in Health: Allied Health Profession Support (General) – this includes units specific to the assessment, care, maintenance and treatment of feet.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A chiropody assistant needs:

  • The ability to relate to a range of people.
  • A caring and understanding manner.
  • Good hand-eye coordination.
  • Strong spoken and written communication skills.
  • Good practical skills.
  • The ability to work alone and in a team.
  • The ability to organise your time and manage your workload.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, you could apply for an assistant practitioner post and study for a foundation degree in a subject such as health care (associate practitioner), health and social care, or assisting professional practice.

With this level qualification, you may be able to join year two of a degree leading to registration as a chiropodist (this may even be part of a secondment, with financial support from your employer).

Get Further Information

Alliance of Private Sector Chiropody
and Podiatry Practitioners
Website: www.thealliancepsp.com

Health Professions Council (HPC), Park House,
184 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BU
Tel: 020 7582 0866
Website: www.hpc-uk.org

Working in the NHS:

England: NHS Careers, PO Box 2311,
Bristol BS2 2ZX
Tel: 0845 606 0655
Website: www.nhscareers.nhs.uk

Northern Ireland: NHS Northern Ireland
Website: www.hpssjobs.com

Scotland: NHS Scotland
Tel: 0845 601 4647
Website: www.nhscareers.scot.nhs.uk

Wales: NHS Wales Careers
Tel: 01443 233472
Website: www.wales.nhs.uk

The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists,
1 Fellmonger's Path, Tower Bridge Road,
London SE1 3LY
Tel: 020 7234 8620
Website: www.feetforlife.org

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