Associate Professor Caroline Robinson is the Associate Head School of Allied Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences (SAHESS) and the Sub Dean Learning and Teaching, Faculty of Science and Health, Charles Sturt University (CSU). Caroline has a particular interest in healthy ageing, First Nations curriculum, and pharmacology. Caroline is the inaugural Chair of the Australasian Council of Podiatry Deans, collaborating with the Podiatry Program Leaders in Australia and New Zealand to provide an important voice for podiatry educators and enabling a coordinated approach to education initiatives and issues that affect podiatry courses and student education.
We asked Associate Professor Caroline Robinson to share the latest news from the Australasian Council of Podiatry Deans (ACPD), along with advice for podiatrists on how to get involved.
At this time of year, universities across Australia and New Zealand have recently welcomed a new cohort of podiatry students. A majority of these new students are graduates from high school and a small minority are non-school leavers (formerly known as ‘mature-aged’ students).
The approximate intake across the eight active undergraduate podiatry programs in Australia is 280 students.
It is concerning that podiatry continues to attract a much smaller number of new students than other undergraduate allied health programs, and it’s not uncommon to have several aspiring physiotherapists in the class. Fortunately, these new students who thought physiotherapy was their path, tend to thrive in first year and realise that podiatry is a fascinating discipline with many and varied career paths.
Podiatry students, however, understand the need to educate family and friends about their career choice. It is important that we equip new students with the knowledge and language to explain that the word ‘podiatrist’ derives from the Greek words ‘pod’ – meaning foot – and ‘iatros’ – meaning physician. A ‘foot doctor’ is an essential member of any multi-disciplinary healthcare team, because good foot health enables mobility and physical activity to reduce the risk of chronic disease and enhance mental wellbeing.
All podiatrists should take an active role in advocacy for our discipline and promote podiatry as a possible career path not only to prospective students but also to the broader community. This is core business for academic staff in universities but we rely on our partners in industry to collaborate in building the future podiatry workforce.
Positive developments are underway, however, including the following updates.
The ACPD will continue its work this year to advocate for podiatry at a national level, through the Chairs of Allied Health Councils joint forum. In addition to the work on student recruitment, ACPD members are collaborating on a range of projects including:
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