Podiatry Students Under Threat?

University of Johannesburg 4th year podiatry students are in for a new experience on Tuesday 5th February! For the first time in 12 years I am returning to lecturing. I will be lecturing Private Practice Management, which is part of the course on Health Systems Management.  I’m looking forward to re-joining the academic team, despite a dislike of marking. It seems to me that full-time academic life in 2008 is like a road full of potholes called "admin,"  so I hope I can avoid these potholes as a part-timer! Being burdened with too much "admin" was one my reasons for leaving in 1995!.

Podiatry education in South Africa started in 1977 at the Witwatersrand College for Advanced Technical Education (WCATE), as a 3-year Diploma plus a year of in-service training. Then it became a National Higher Diploma after 4-years of study after WCATE became Technikon Witwatersrand(TWR). It evolved into a 4-year Bachelor’s Degree at TWR and when TWR and the Rand Afrikaans University merged to form the University of Johannesburg(UJ), this became the latest home for the degree. The degree isn’t offered by any other University in South Africa,  which is disappointing and leads to all sorts of difficulties in enrolling students from around the country. However graduates from UJ are distributed all over the world and many have gone on to become leaders in the profession in their new countries. In fact this week another young podiatrist is leaving Johannesburg for Australia, another went to Canada last Christmas and another two also left for Australia in 2007 whilst yet another relocated to Saudi Arabia (Hopefully this is only a temporary posting).

Fortunately there are some of us left in South Africa, mostly in private practice, but there are more posts being created in the State Health Services, including the Military, with students having to work back their bursary committments. As yet there is no requirement for podiatrists to do Community Service, mainly it seems due to the lack of available supervisors and posts. If and when Community Service becomes a requirement, podiatrists are well qualified to perform an important role in the management of foot problems associated with chronic disease and more importantly I think those affecting children.



Andrew has taught at the University as well as providing podiatry services in South Africa since 1977. Twice chair of the Podiatry Association of South Africa and a commentator on care of your feet on both radio and television he now works in private practice in Cape Town and Hout Bay.

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