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Putting UK podiatrists on the international stage

Putting UK podiatrists on the international stage

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By Steve Jamieson 

Ahead of our conference in Bournemouth next week, I wanted to share news about our international symposium, which is taking place the day before. 

For some time now we have been working to develop ways for the College of Podiatry’s international work to be of greater benefit to members. As part of this we reached out to nine other leading national podiatry bodies – from the US, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Greece, Israel, Malta, Barbados – and I am pleased to announce that we will be bringing them together at our offices in London to explore options for closer future collaboration. 

On the agenda are four key areas where we think there is greatest potential for international working that will provide real value for our members and the practice of podiatry in the UK. 

The first is clinical practice. What can we learn from overseas that could help us develop better practices for our patients, and what can they learn from us? This includes how podiatry is taught, and what additional training programmes might be available for podiatrists in the UK. We think there is a range of ways that podiatrists in the UK could participate in international opportunities for ongoing professional development, and for overseas podiatrists to take part in courses here. 

There is also much that we can achieve at a policy level by working internationally. For example, you will remember that the College is leading work on behalf of the podiatry profession to address some of the challenges we in the UK face around recruitment and retention of podiatry students. This recruitment conundrum is not universal – there are countries where no such problems exist. Part of our response to recruitment problems here must be to learn more from our counterparts in other territories about different systems and how the profession operates within those systems.  

A third area, and one where we see significant direct potential for many of our members, is in greater research collaboration. We want to lead the development of opportunities for UK podiatrists to work with overseas practitioners and research centres, to develop our scientific understanding and improve treatments for patients. 

Finally, we want to leverage the relationships we are forging internationally to open up the rest of the world to our members through an expanded communications network. The insurance we provide through college membership already covers our members to work in all territories except the US and Canada. But as we drive improvements in practice, research and education in the UK, I want to see more opportunities for podiatrists to engage with colleagues not just here, but overseas as well. 

This would mean all UK podiatrists having greater access to the wealth of learning that the rest of the world has to offer, as well as options for career development. For example, it could mean UK podiatrists going abroad to do some work-shadowing, witnessing at first hand an alternative approach in action, and bringing it home to lead its implementation here. We believe developments like these will ultimately help us to improve patient care.

But beyond the practical advantages for members and patients, we also want to create opportunities to increase the profile of podiatry as a truly international discipline. Other health professions enjoy these benefits and we believe it is time for podiatry to take its rightful place on the international stage as well.

After the symposium at the College offices, delegates will be travelling down to visit the UK conference as our guests. I know you will want to join me in welcoming them to Bournemouth (and maybe the weather will play its part too). I am excited about this opportunity to showcase the best of UK podiatry, and for the opportunities for international working that lie ahead.