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Psychology in Podiatry? Or is it the other way around?

Discussion in 'General Issues and Discussion Forum' started by david meilak, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. david meilak

    david meilak Member

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    In our ethical education programmes and also in our clinical training we have always been told to treat the patient holistically, and not forget that there is a whole patient attached to the pair of feet that we are treating.

    But as time goes by I tend to feel that an inclination I have always had from the beginning of treating patients is that Podiatry is 20% treating the patients feet................and 80% treating the patient's mind.

    I had an experience yesterday in the clinic when this 60 y.o. lady turned up and she got very nervous in the clinic hallway when she saw that one of our younger new grad Podiatrists was going to treat her. The young Pod came to me and told me that he'd rather not treat her, as she always tends to get nervous and get very annoyed when his treatment regime takes a little longer than may have been anticipated by the patient.

    I gladly accepted to see to this patient and entered the surgery where the patient was sitting on a chair waiting. I entered the room and politely asked her to sit on the Pod chair for treatment. Trying my best with the patient with the usual how are you and what not the patient said.............Dr. I have colon cancer...............

    I immediately understood that due to my age the patient may have felt more comfortable with me than with the younger lad. Treating this patient's dry somewhat calloused feet was a high degree of a discussion where my main aim was to give courage to this older but still attractive woman. Speaking to her about taking care of herself, making sure she looks good for her children and husband, and looking forward to life, rather than giving up due to her condition was the main aim of my treatment for that session.

    As Podiatrists I am specifically convinced that we can do so much more for our patients, when we look them in the face, and see the person and not just their feet. It is so wrong when some Pods tell me that they forget a patient's face but remember the patient when they see their feet.

    In my short career in treating patients so far, I tend to go home so happy and fulfilled when I remember that I managed to put a smile on a patients face, manage to tickle an old dear's feet and get her to laugh....................and most of all feel so much satisfaction at my contribution to helping a patient suffering so much due to some systemic disease such as cancer that maybe as a Podiatrist I have nothing to contribute to.......but may have done so much more to make a patient feel good, and be able to look forward to life in a happier way than the moment before she entered my surgery. No amount of money can ever pay me enough for that kind of satisfaction. Think about it Pods.

    David M
  2. perrypod

    perrypod Active Member

    Dear David,
    After graduating in podiatry I read psychology at degree level. I think that it should be introduced as a core subject to all undergraduate podiatrists. As well as giving confidence in understanding and communication, consider also the benefits of clinical hypnosis and analgesia. Understanding of psychosomatic disorders could also prove useful.
  3. PodAus

    PodAus Active Member

    Hi Guys,

    All Health care workers have to manage the Patient and their specific requirements. The ability to listen specifically to the psychological requirements of the patient definitely allows the Practitioner the 'relate' to the case... to get inside the head of the Patient...

    Whether it's psychosomatic or elite athlete performance-pressure, the initial point of patient / practitioner interaction can often be the key to a successful outcome.

    That's why we often see, for example, (ex-)elite athletes as Practitioners, best relate to the 'needs' of elite athletes as patients.

    Much of the understanding and experience gained by the Practitioner relates specifically to their 'non-academic' education. It can't be taught...

    What you say...? :morning:
  4. perrypod

    perrypod Active Member

    Yes, Pod Aus you are quite right. Motivating athletes does not normally require the knowledge of an academic psychologist, especially if the individual is mentally stable.
    Some patients are more complex to understand. Jorge Ulnik the psychologist had a patient who's hands were rendered useless by psoriasis. This man's disease started when he held the agonised body of his friend after an accident. The patient suffered a conversion reaction and it was deemed that the skin condition resulted from emotional trauma. Fortunately, the skin condition resolved when the patient underwent catharsis, releasing his anger and coming to terms with the mental trauma.
  5. shireen hughes

    shireen hughes Welcome New Poster

    i'd like to say how much i enjoyed and was touched by the statement made by david meilak. I am currently studying psychology as part of my podiatry degree and i whole heartedly concur with David on how we should behave with patients and put warmth back into health care. Patients are not numbers, and shouldn't be treated as such. Take time to get to know your patients and you'll be repaid 100 fold, its a win win thing!
  6. perrypod

    perrypod Active Member


    It is refreshing to know that you are being encouraged to study psychology as an undergraduate podiatrist. Hopefully, when studying psychology, you will realise the depth of trauma that some of our patients have endured. The warmth, understanding and humanity that you bring to practice will be treasured by the weak and neurotic. Obviously, this can and will be exploited by the sadistic and psychotic. These patients, also need our help and support. Unfortunately, warmth and care are not really a concept that they necessarily will understand. I trust that the psychologist's training will prepare you for this. It is not rocket science but a factor that should be contemplated and fully considered. Psychology is in itself no more or less than the study of the mind.

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