Definition

PODIATRISTS ARE HEALTH PRACTITIONERS:

Podiatrists are health professionals responsible for various forms of foot-related care and treatment, apart from medical forms. They are authorised to undertake clinical and para-clinical examinations for the purposes of identifying various foot-related ailments and pathologies. Podiatrists need to be clinically skilled, so as to be capable of differentiating local ailments of the foot treatable with podiatry practices, from systemic illnesses that need to be referred to a doctor. They can also prevent complications relating to foot-health problems and detect symptoms of general systemic pathologies or problems linked to the lower limb and which may be manifested at foot level.
Podiatric care may be educative, preventative or curative, and can necessitate long-term treatment or concern research.
Podiatrists operating in France are authorised to treat epidermal and ungual ailments of the foot, without recourse to a medical prescription. After undertaking a full podiatric diagnosis via an in-depth clinical assessment, podiatrists have access to a variety of specific therapies. These range from common care to the prescription and preparation of devices designed to prevent and treat foot ailments, bearing in mind that the origins of these ailments are often remote from the foot.
The podiatrist's competencies are perfectly delineated by France's Public Health Code and by ministerial decrees. Following the entry into force of a new law in France, the profession has recently elected its own order, namely the Conseils Régionaux et le Conseil National de l'Ordre des Pédicures-Podologues. The new law and the elected body ensure that the profession is associated with an ethical dimension and a code of good practice.
 

PODIATRISTS FORM PART OF A MEDICAL TEAM :

When the treatment required by the patient falls outside the scope of the podiatrist's competencies, he/she must be capable of suitably directing his/her patient to a doctor or specialist. A large number of medical and surgical specialities require podiatrists to work in close collaboration with a patient-care team. This approach avoids having to treat patients when complications have already appeared and reduces the risk of belated diagnoses that are harmful to the patient.

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Qualities required

COMMITMENT, DETERMINATION, ETHICS, DECISION-MAKING, PATIENT CARE, GOOD CONDUCT.

Clearly positioning the podiatrist's profession: the importance of podiatry is sometimes diminished and considered largely as an aesthetic, service-oriented or market-focused activity. However, there is also a growing tendency to view podiatry as a specific branch of medical studies.
 
 

MANUAL APTITUDE AND HIGH DEGREE OF DEXTERITY.

In addition to maintaining good relations with patients, podiatrists must possess discernment and analytical skills, update their knowledge on a regular basis and display a high level of manual dexterity.
 
 

CONTINUOUS EVALUATION OF PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES AND ANALYSIS OF SITUATIONS.

Among physical therapy professions, podiatry is probably the one closest to professions like dentistry that require practitioners to both diagnose problems and dispense treatment. This situation makes it vital for podiatrists to continuously update their knowledge and practices throughout their career. The podiatrist's development may be hindered by insufficient knowledge of the profession's different skill areas and, in this respect, the recent plans to "universitise" studies in France should help to attract young entrants to the profession.
 
 

ABILITY TO RUN A COMPANY.

Would-be podiatrists need to be aware of the constraints that apply to self-employed persons, as this is the most frequent professional status for podiatrists. As is usually the case for physical therapy professions, measures may exist to assist younger persons in setting themselves up under self-employed status. With a number of financial contingencies needing to be considered (start-up costs + minimum social-security contributions affecting the number of medical acts needing to be performed), careful preparation is important. The forms of assistance available to students could concern help with a professional project, familiarisation with administrative procedures and useful methods for developing a professional network, although these measures are currently left solely to the discretion of training institutes.
 

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Prospects

TREATMENT CARRIED OUT IN CONJUNCTION WITH OTHER PROFESSIONS:

The development of the podiatry profession is subject to various constraints. Some types of treatment are carried out in conjunction with doctors and surgeons (primarily orthopaedists) and with a wide variety of other professions, some of whom do not have the same level of training (pharmacists, bandaging-orthopaedists).Levels of patient reimbursement for podiatry treatments are still very moderate in France. Forms of intervention may also differ between European countries. In Spain, for example, podiatrists may undertake small surgical acts involving anaesthetic.

GROWTH POTENTIAL:

The issue of population-ageing alone suggests that podiatrists will be increasingly called upon to treat elderly persons, whether for everyday care or for larger problems. This situation raises the question of public health system reimbursement levels for these forms of intervention. The development of amateur and professional sport may also represent a new segment for podiatrists. Likewise, podopaediatrics may receive greater recognition as a means of preventing problems later on in life. The prevention of lesions in "at-risk" feet is also a major public health protection concern (podiatry & diabetology, arterial pathologies, rheumatological pathologies).The potential for growth in the podiatry profession – in terms of public health and of a scientific, technological or clinical in nature – underlines the strength of the relationship between diagnoses and treatment methods (including the use of medical devices). 
 

HIGHLY IMPORTANT TO MONITOR TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS:

The podiatry profession is subject to rapid technological change, not only as concerns equipment for measurement, diagnosis and imaging purposes (walking belt examinations, video podography, digital baropodometry), but also regarding the use of cutting-edge techniques and materials. Likewise, practices are influenced by changes in hygiene and sterilisation standards. Recent developments concerning the treatment of pain oblige podiatrists to use new techniques like rotary equipment (turbines, etc.), cryotherapy and ionophoresis, or to prescribe and/or apply topical treatments like painkilling creams.
 
 

FIRST IN FRANCE: POSSIBILITY OF CONTINUING VIA A MASTER'S IN PODIATRY AT UNIVERSITYNEW AND EXCLUSIVELY IN MARSEILLES FOR THE 2010-2011 ACADEMIC YEAROn 24 April 2009:

  • the Faculty of Sports Science, Université de la Méditerranée, AIX-MARSEILLE II,
  • the Faculty of Medicine, Université de la Méditerranée, AIX-MARSEILLE II,
  • the Marseilles Podiatry Schoolsigned an original and unique agreement in France which is geared to enhancing the specific training offering in the podiatry field and has led to the creation of a Master's level training course open to podiatrists (equivalent to French baccalauréat level + 5 years of higher study). The new, operationally-oriented course is highly complementary to the existing training possibilities in the discipline:
  • the MASTER M1 "STAPS" programme is research-oriented and focuses on a single theme, namely human movement and its determinants – nervous, physiological, mechanical, behavioural, cognitive and societal – in their normal and pathological dimensions. The "STAPS" MASTER is co-accredited with the following universities: Montpellier 1 – Toulon-Var – Nice-Sophia Antipolis – Avignon-Pays de Vaucluse.
  • The MASTER M2 "MEDICINE" is a research-oriented programme centred on environment and health and focusing on a multi-disciplinary theme of human pathology. The programme aims to provide students with the scientific basis needed to understand the inter-dependence between man and his environment, and the indispensable tools for conducting research into the potential consequences of environmental changes or disruption, whether natural or anthropic in origin.
 
KEY FIGURES FOR THE PROFESSION IN THE PACA REGION: (See French Health Ministry publications)

(sources: PACA regional council, 2008)

(grouped into sectors) "9 years of revenues for the self-employed"


PACA, 9.2% of national jobs: 997
Source: DREES – ADELI file – 1 January 2006
Very few job offers: 12
Job data under-estimates job offers transiting via other specialised networks
Source: DRTEFP – DEFM categories 1, 2 and 3 – 31 December 2005
Fewer young people than the national average: 30%
National average for the under-35s: 39%
Source: DREES – ADELI file – 1 January 2006
More seniors than elsewhere: 36%
National average for the over-50s: 27%
Source: DREES – ADELI file – 1 January 2006
Higher density in the PACA region than the national average: 31
National average density: 18
Source: DREES – ADELI file – 1 January 2006
ORM – Health and Social pages 2-4A


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Contact

Marseilles Podiatry School (MPS)
206, bd de Plombières
13014 Marseille FRANCE
Phone: +334 91 58 16 72
Fax: +334 91 63 65 93
Contacter l'École de Podologie de Marseille par Emailsecretariat.epm@bbox.fr

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