Podiatric surgery is a specialist field in the podiatry profession involving the surgical treatment of conditions affecting the foot, ankle and related lower extremity structures. Podiatric surgeons are highly skilled healthcare practitioners who are registered as specialists under the Australian Healthcare Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA). They exclusively perform surgery for conditions affecting the foot and ankle and usually operate independently in private hospitals within a surgical team, which typically includes a specialist anaesthetist, and hospital nursing staff. Podiatric surgery is recognized by the National Law in Australia as a specialist profession in the same light as medical and dental specialists. More information can be found about the registration standards for podiatric surgery at the AHPRA website. http://www.ahpra.gov.au/
Podiatric Surgeons usually spend between 8-12 years in training to gain their specialist registration. The typical pathway includes undergraduate or postgraduate training in the field of podiatric medicine (3-4 years), followed by a mandatory 2 years clinical experience as a qualified podiatrist. A further 3-7 years of further training in podiatric surgery is then required under one of the two commonwealth approved and accredited programs of study.
Why choose a Podiatric Surgeon?
Podiatric surgeons have generally devoted their whole working careers to the study of the foot and ankle pathologies and their treatment. As all Podiatric surgeons are required to complete studies and work in the field of podiatry as general podiatrists prior to training as surgeons, they are most qualified to assess, diagnose and treat all conditions relating to the foot and ankle.
Podiatric surgeons complete several years of study and training in broad areas of general medicine, pharmacology and other surgical specialties, alongside the focused intensive training in foot and ankle surgery and podiatric medicine. A prior knowledge in general podiatry and the extensive and well-rounded education in the medical field equips Podiatric Surgeons with the skills to allow them to safely manage their patients’ conditions in both hospital and outpatient settings. Many Podiatric Surgeons continue to work in some capacity as general podiatrists and so their patients are assured of a well-rounded, up-to-date, and holistic approach to their treatment.
Patients who choose to have a podiatric surgeon treat them for their foot condition often do so for various reasons, some of which include:
- A specialized and focused ‘podiatric’ understanding of their condition.
- A podiatric approach to foot surgery that is arguably more considered and which involves techniques developed by podiatric surgeons for podiatric conditions.
- A tendency for podiatric surgeons to be more involved in their patients conditions both before and after surgery. Most podiatric surgeons will provide prolonged aftercare and follow up to ensure good recovery from surgery and they will also advise on any ongoing podiatric treatment as required for related and non-related foot issues.