Optimising Our Podiatry Image Worldwide?

Getting more from your podiatry practice

Here is a topic, an article, albeit short, intended to raise awareness. 

LinkedIn provides an amazing platform for professionals who desire to share information and opportunities. This short article is directed at international podiatrists in the USA and Australia but hopefully encourages those from other English-speaking countries, including the UK.

In 2014 ConsultingFootPain, I launched my trading brand designed for patients to deliver the ever-growing plethora of facts sheets. Although I had been a practising podiatric surgeon for nearly 30 years at the time, my website taught me about the many opportunities for publishing in general. Many of my articles have been converted into published books. Building a resource and turning it into a formal publication can bring huge satisfaction.

Fast Forward

Nine years on, ConsultingFootPain (CFP) is a different brand completely now backed by my independent publishing business – Busypencilcase Communications. As a site for information, resources, innovations, self-help and comments, predominantly about foot health, I found this avenue not entirely defined within my former career but as a post-career development (note – I hate the word retirement); this was engaging, fun, and allowed me to keep my academic knowledge alive and to motivate others.

Creating an article is fun to grow, and when pitched at 1800-2500 words (this article is 1500 words), it creates a solid basis for advice. Most written material is in English; the USA is at the top of the publication tree, while Australia has developed a strong base from such a small professional population. Is there evidence for this statement? Well, I never write or produce material if better material exists, and Aussie material often stands out with clarity and brevity. 

The author at work

Podiatric Population

A quick look at the figures represented by several websites shows in the USA, 6110 – 18,000; Australia, 2501 – 5435; while in the UK, 12,627 – 17000 podiatrists have been recorded.

If you were a statistician, those ranges are suspiciously wide, and the sources vary. The dates of collection and publication vary – many dates back to 2019. The value of 10,202 (USA) from Ibis world was accessed on 11/16/22 and published on 7/1/22 (US date order). The larger number of 18,000 includes Puerto Rico (?), while pmbc.org report 15,000. Zippia reports over 6110.

Two sources for Australia, APODA and the Australian Podiatry Association, suggest >2500 podiatrists during the registration health body Health. (Gov.Au)  suggests 5435. 

The UK also has some extreme ranges. Statista 2022 indicates 17,000 in August. The HCPC suggests 12,627 (2019).  There have been falling numbers in the USA and UK; all countries dominate with more female entries.

We might reach the right number if we suggest 10,000 podiatrists for the USA, at least 4000 for Australia and 12,000 for the UK. Given the larger population of the USA (332 million), Australia (26 million) and the UK (68 million), we can work out an approximate ratio based on the somewhat wide-ranging figures of podiatrists provided. The USA has an overwhelming supply problem for such a large population; 1 podiatrist per 33,200. The UK has a ratio of around one podiatrist per 5,500 patients, and Australia has 1 per 6,500 patients.

Of course, competitive professions provide overlapping services if we include sources from orthopedists to chiropractic doctors and physical therapists. The UK has more latitude as it has non-registered professionals disallowed in the USA. Of course, there are ways around formal podiatry registration, such as a nursing profession that offers basic foot care and can pay for online and correspondence courses as with Foot Health Practitioners

A Market Place for Your Skills

The subject of the podiatry population per se is not the narrative. The narrative is about how we sell our image and present ourselves and how the USA and Australia do it well. It is not that the UK do not have good authors or people unable to write; there are some great contributors to the podiatry printed journals; it’s just that when it comes to daily, routine articles, these do not resonate as widely. Essential facts about conditions are often not optimised. Optimisation means going beyond the primary message and stamping the badge of podiatry on that message.

Regarding websites, the APA site has a good range of material, and it is easy to navigate patient information compared to the UK Royal College site or the Australian Podiatry Association. However, the UK site has a section on foot conditions, whereas the APODA does not. We must bear in mind professional bodies are the window for the whole profession. However, the criticism might be misplaced as these professional bodies are membership organisations, and like shareholders, they probably see this function as prima facie. 

Those who have produced their own personal material have created great messages. It is a fact that, in general, the use of media can look slick, functional or offer a rather unclear image of the profession. Investment in media presentation can be expensive, and a service without a website today will rely on reputation alone. Drawing new clientele is tough in a competitive market. Some have made their market narrow and specialise, which can beat the competition if at the top of your game.

Social Media Networking is important for your practice patients

Should you use stock material?

As we can see, relying on ‘stock material’ from an official source might be fine, but you need that edge when running your own business. That unique presentation. Something that appears trusted and looks different, and something that offers hope rather than a regurgitated message source, despite being well intended. After 30 years in practice, I realised that customised resources were better being unique to my field and scope of work. My message today is, don’t rely on your professional body alone, do something for yourself. As a Brit, I know we are more reserved than our Australian and American cousins, and therefore, I am not surprised to find a wide range of material driven with confident branding and a sure hand on the subject. 

Reduce the hard sell

For those who use video film and quality images, create Podcasts and have interactive material, well done. CFP has a world readership, of which 70% are from North America. And I am talking about ordinary people, not professionals. This is a hungry readership who loves to seek out information. My interactive material, in which the public writes about their foot problem, shows how valuable information is. Again most public enquiries originate from the USA. While podiatrists in business look to sell their service and attract appointments, the message can be promoted by offering self-help information and a guide on when to seek help. This is a sales tool that reduces the image of that hard sell.

Advising on how to solve a problem usually leads to recognising that professional help is necessary. This makes it a soft sell which often resonates better with patients

My Hard Sell to Podiatrists

CFP is looking for podiatrists to write short articles that can be published as open access to an international market. The link to each article allows this to be used on your site with the knowledge that YOU are an author. I hope my USA and Australian colleagues will engage, and of course, the invitation goes out to any other group, including people in my own country. Let’s sell podiatry to everyone and make it more accessible. 

CFP wants you to write

The No-Cost Sell

As sole practitioners, each person can tailor their material, and this is what CFP is happy to publish for FREE. Add your address for contact and know you have contributed to a widening of the available material written by the professional.

While speaking with my author cap, I compliment and encourage scientific papers; we also require simplified material that is easy to understand and conveys clear, unambiguous messages. It is the latter I am interested in.

I have produced an article on tips for writing and a short video, but I encourage all podiatrists to sit down and pick one key topic and with a little concentration, you may find a new skill.

Send in 1500 – 2500 words (in fact, anything over 700 words is fine if written well), and let’s share this with colleagues and the public. Upon publication, use the link on your site, feel the satisfaction that you have contributed, and build another CME/CPD feather in your cap.

Please use busypencilcasecfp@gmail.com for communication

2023 will include a wide platform option for podiatrists to publish with more freedom, without cost, supported by a podiatrist-author who can assist in bringing your words to life. Added stock pictures are provided, but contributors are encouraged to add their quality material.

Thanks for reading this article on ‘The International Podiatry Market’  for professionals by David R Tollafield

David R Tollafield is a Fellow of the Royal College of Podiatry (retired) and registered as a podiatrist in the UK.

Written for ConsultingFootPain and published by Busypencilcase Communications Est. 2015

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