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What Does It Take To Become a Podiatrist? With Alaa Razak

What made you want to become a podiatrist? What informed your career choice? If not a podiatrist, who would you be?

I was 13 years old when my father had said to me that he can see me doing something medical. He is a doctor himself. I remember at the time, I was interested in mechanics and also biology. So when it came to choosing my university degree I put the two together and eventually found out about something called ‘Biomechanics’. After I completed my first degree I researched Biomechanics and came to find that being a podiatrist gives you the upmost medical training and knowledge in the biomechanics of the body. So my encouragement from my father as well as my interest in biomechanics brought me to become a podiatrist.

If I was not a podiatrist, I would be a journalist or lecturer.

What are the most common foot problems people come to see you with?

The most common foot problems would be heel pain, arch pain, ankle pain, back pain, bunions and ingrown toe nail.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your job? What keeps you going?

I will tell you a little story…..about 3 years ago I had a patient whom was referred to me. This patient had foot and ankle surgery when he was only 14 years old (he came to see me at the age of 27 years). He was told at the age of 14 (after his surgery), that he would not be able to do strenuous sporting activities, like running or a marathon. When he came to see me, he came to just get a prescription for orthotics (which he has to wear all his life). When he told me that he was informed that he couldn’t run strenuously — I assessed him and decided to see if I could change that! I gave him a strengthening programme for his foot and ankle muscles alongside his new orthotics. About 18 months later, he returned for his third (6 monthly) follow up….at this follow up appointment he was proud to announce to me that because of the treatment programme given…..he was able to start training for a marathon. He has now completed the marathon. Proud moment for him, which of course made me feel very rewarded.

What are the main day-to-day challenges you face?

The lack of reputation and knowledge about podiatrists. When a person asks me what I do, I say podiatrist! Almost 80% of the members of public do not know what a podiatrist is….so I always end up having to explain that I am a foot doctor.

What are your other hobbies and passions? How do you unwind from stress and long hours?

To be honest, I work pretty much all the time. I am at a delicate stage of my career at the moment and so for me …when I am not at the hospital, I am in my private clinics. When I am not in my clinics, I am studying. When I am not studying I am preparing for lectures I give. When I am not preparing for lectures, I am writing reports. When I am not writing reports, I am completing admin for my clinics (i.e. emails etc etc). Busy schedule. I have other hobbies and passions, but at the moment don’t have time to do them. Some are swimming, singing, seeing the outdoors.

Describe a typical work day of yours.

7:30AM until 6:30PM at the hospital (I run a biomechanics and musculoskeletal department for Central London NHS), from 7:30pm – 9pm either clinical meetings, appointments at CP Medical or at The Smart Clinics. I get home for 10pm and I start to do some studying until about 11:45pm.

Tell me a funny story related to your years of practice.

I once injured my left foot — I fractured a bone. Regardless of being injured and unable to walk, I continued to go to work with the crutches and the brace around my left foot. I was in my private clinic and a new patient was booked in to have an initial consultation with me. When I went to collect him from the waiting room (using the crutches and wearing the brace)…the patient looked at me with fear. After a few seconds he then said the following: “That really isn’t good marketing for you is it?!…”    It really made me laugh! and because I laughed the patient felt comfortable and could see on my face that it was injury — out of my hand.

 

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Hanna-Amanda is a London-based sustainability journalist specialising in fashion and lifestyle writing. In addition to Chelsea Health E-Magazine, Hanna-Amanda is the Brand Director of Savant Magazine (www.savant-magazine.com), a digital slow lifestyle publication dedicated to a visual assemblage of all things ethical and sustainable. In her spare time, Hanna-Amanda shares a great passion for French culture, slow living and exploring the little marvels and miracles all around the world… 

 

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