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South African Podiatrist Gloria works at Randell's Footcare in Norfolk in the UK

Working as a podiatrist at Randell’s Footcare fully utilises a podiatrist’s skills, qualifications and knowledge. What’s more, you get a real family feeling working as a team member and supporting each other. In this blog, we talk to Gloria, one of our newest members of staff who has joined us from Lesotho, a country landlocked by South Africa. We find out about her experiences as a podiatrist working in the UK at Randell’s Footcare.

Has it been easy to move from your home country to Randell’s Footcare in the UK?

The truth is, it has not been easy. You are deciding to leave everything you have ever known for the unknown. It’s scary! Will people like me and vice versa? Will I be able to do a good job? And you also have to continuously question yourself.

Relocating from one place to another is draining emotionally, mentally, physically and financially. The Company really helped remove the financial burden the best they could. I got a relocation grant to help with all expenses for the first month. It covered my flight to Norwich from home, rent for the first month and food. They also helped cover all expenses related to applying for my Visa including the visa application fee, TB test and English proficiency tests.

Now I am settled here in Norfolk, I am enjoying being a podiatrist working and living in the UK. It offers a valuable and enriching experience with personal growth, career development, and cultural immersion.

How did you find Randell’s Footcare on arrival?

I do not know how to describe it but I can say it is good. A place is made by the people who work there and I can say I like my colleagues. Getting started with work, I had two weeks to shadow my boss, Steve Randell. He took his time explaining everything. This included how the system works to how to set up your workstation and how to leave things at the end of the day. He also let me treat some of his patients with their permission of course. This meant he could see my working style and advise on what he thought I can improve on. I also shadowed other podiatrists and took bits and pieces of their working style with me. I really enjoyed that.

You arrived as a podiatrist working in the UK at Christmas, how was your first British Christmas?

It was cold!! Christmas is a very big thing here and that was very shocking. After arriving, people had Christmas decorations up already. Even before starting work, I had the opportunity to attend the Christmas Staff dinner. I got to meet all the other staff and it was a fun introduction to the team. It was made even better by the fact that we all complained about how cold the food was. This really acted as an icebreaker for getting to know each other. We were also googling the location of my country, suggesting places where I can buy groceries and then taking me out for food just so I do not get lonely and bored. They are a nice bunch!

What do you most enjoy about working at Randell’s Footcare?

As one of the new podiatrists at Randell’s Footcare, I am just taking this time to learn and get accustomed to the working culture and environment.

With just three months of working here, I can say the staff works as a team, they are big on helping and advising each other. This is made easy by the system they use. Everyone working on a certain day is connected to one system. So, if you have any problems, you can easily ask anything and everyone logged into the system will see and answer the questions promptly.

Do you enjoy working at the 7 Randell’s Footcare clinics around Norfolk?

As a podiatrist working here, you get the opportunity to drive to all the different clinics and meet different people each day of the week. I love the variety that this brings in terms of patients, colleagues and working environment. Some clinics like Aylsham, Norwich and Coltishall are located more inland while the clinics in Cromer and Sheringham are right by the coastline.

What is a typical day as a podiatrist working in the UK at Randell’s Footcare?

A working day as a podiatrist working in the UK at Randell’s Footcare typically starts at 08:45 am.

Setting up

On Tuesdays, I am normally in North Walsham, which is a spacious clinic without a receptionist. The first thing to do is to start up the computer and login into the system to get an idea of how my day will be. I clean the plinth and chairs in my treatment room, set up the instruments, switch on the electronic payment system and lastly, switch on the electric plugs for the fully automated plinths.

In our Norwich, Coltishall and Sheringham clinics, we have a receptionist. This is mostly because these clinics tend to have a high number of patients. When I arrive at these clinics I clean my designated room and plinth chairs, place instruments in the UV and lastly switch on the electric circuit to the plinth.

Seeing patients

Before a patient comes into the consulting room, I go onto Randell’s Footcare patient system. I look if the patient has been here before and if so, what their previous issue was. The system allows you to see what the problem was, who previously saw the patient, and what was done. It can give you an idea of what the patient is here for especially with general podiatric patients.

New patients obviously don’t have any history with the clinic. They are given a form to fill in about their illnesses, medications and consenting to treatment that we will be providing. All the information is put into the system and saved.

When the patient arrives, I usually call them from the reception area to the consulting room with a happy smile mainly because I am glad to meet and see them. I show the patient where to put their bags and jackets in the room, politely ask them to take off their shoes and socks and sit on the plinth.

The consultation begins with me asking the patient what has brought them in today and if they have any discomfort or pain. I check if they have had any changes in their medications. I usually ask further questions depending on the presenting issue. Patients typically come in with general podiatric care, ingrown toenails, fungal nails, verrucae and some not-so-common conditions like heel pain, joint pain and back pain.

Routine and specialist treatments

Routine treatment offered to most patients is general podiatric care. This involves nail cutting, hard skin removal, foot filling and foot and shoe wear advice.

Some patients present with cosmetic issues such as not liking how thick their nails are. This is often the case for young patients. We have our own in-house specialist for nail cosmetic treatments so I can simply refer them on.

We are always ready to refer patients to other specialists like dermatologists, podiatric surgeons and general practitioners when needed.

Randell’s Footcare has a Biomechanical lab, so patients presenting with back pain or any biomechanical condition are advised to go see the biomechanics specialist.

In addition, we always use a doppler ultrasound machine that helps us identify if the patient is getting sufficient blood flow to their foot.

Writing up the notes

After a patient’s appointment, I write up the patient’s notes. This includes everything from what the patient said, what I did and any advice I gave to the patient. One great thing to tell patients is that they can call for a free 15-minute appointment if they feel anything was missed or is still uncomfortable.

Cleaning down

Keeping the clinic clean is important. There is a 15-minute gap between patient appointments and this time is used for writing up notes and cleaning the room to prevent cross-infection. We use a cleaning spray, paper towel and a mop to wipe any dust and nails that may have fallen off the foot tray during consultation. We are then ready to welcome the next patient.

Lunch break

We have a 45-minute lunch break. Sometimes I chat with the receptionist and catch up on life outside of work.  If I don’t feel like talking, I might take a walk around to refresh. I like taking a walk by the coast in Sheringham as the sea is less than a 5-minute walk from the clinic. It can sometimes get windy and cold, so it is important to have a jacket and your scarf on you. Other times, I use this time as a personal time to refresh and refocus. I may chat with my friends and family or listen to my favourite afrobeats or amapiano music.

What time do you finish your day, and on average how many patients do you see a day?

On a normal day, the maximum number of patients you can see is 10 patients. Some days, you can get a patient with a PNA/TNA redressing and so the number of patients you see can increase. Once you’re done with your last patient, which is normally at 16:45, you have 15 minutes to write your notes and clean the room for the next day. By 5 pm you can be off and done for the day!

Are podiatrists working in the UK in demand?

There is a high demand for podiatrists in the UK. This is the same as other clinical degrees such as physiotherapy the bursary was removed for about 4 years which led to fewer students applying to study. This is now reinstated but currently, there are less than 12,000 HCPC-registered podiatrists in the UK and this doesn’t take into account podiatrists who work solely in specialist areas such as diabetes or those that are no longer working.