A former podiatry student has spoken about walking the walk of two professions he loves at the same time, after graduating from the University of Northampton.
Pete Chambers – originally from Bletchley, Buckinghamshire – gained his first degree 20 years ago and in a very different subject to his latest passion – Geography.
Pete explains: “Geography is as far away from podiatry as you can get but it was my first professional love. It led to a satisfying career as a town planning consultant, a post I’ve happily filled since then. But I always felt there was a bit of me that wasn’t totally fulfilled by the day job.”
Podiatry is an allied health profession concerned with the treatment of people’s feet and lower limbs with specialist areas that cover sport injuries, wounds (such as diabetic ulcers), surgery and orthotics (devices that support people’s feet and lower limbs, such as insoles for shoes).
Pete – who graduated last year – explains why the niche area of podiatry appealed to him: “I already had an interest in it. Even though I enjoy town planning, I didn’t see myself doing it full-time, five days a week for the rest of my life.
“It sounds like a cliché, but I wanted to do something to help people and to see the results of that in front of me.
“I am a runner who has Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent), so I already had a strong, personal link to the profession as I had been treated by a variety of podiatrists and knew the benefits of their expertise.
“Having experienced both sides of the coin, I saw how I could translate that into giving other patients a really nuanced, personal level of care. I love the profession because I am already doing exactly what I set out to do.”
Pete’s career sidestep has already received an official seal of approval. At the College of Podiatry Conference 2019, Pete’s poster presentation about his undergraduate research received a ‘Highly Commended’ citation from the college.
Pete adds: “Receiving the commendation came out of the blue, but I was very pleased to get it. My dissertation looked at the range of motion of the big toe joint, which is more important than you might think as this part of the body has a crucial role in helping us to walk and run comfortably.
“It’s very early days and further research needs to be carried out to really test my findings, but in short the current way of testing the motion of the big toe joint is not necessarily the best. Depending on the outcome of future investigations, my findings suggest a better way to test this joint in clinical practice and in turn guide treatment to help people move pain free.”
For the next few years, Pete wants to keep both professional feet firmly planted in their respective camps, but has entrepreneurial shoes on at least one of them: “I’d like to continue to develop my own business. I am – forgive the pun! – a sole trader already. I would like to keep the town planning role that I enjoy too, whilst furthering my clinical skills in podiatry in future.
“Next on my to-do list is to get my dissertation published and I’m currently working with one of my former lecturers to do just that.
“That’s the great thing about the University’s podiatry team – they run alongside you for your whole life. The teaching was excellent here and I’m glad I can still rely on them for support and guidance as an alumnus.”
Find out more about the University of Northampton’s Podiatry (BSc) degree.