Chiropody is for doctors who love a quick hit of success. “I’ve seen an elderly lady walking in with two canes ending up walking without a cane. Those are the kinds of things that will stay with you forever,” says Andrew Springer, a chiropodist in Oshawa, Ont.
“Career-wise, it’s a wonderful opportunity for people who like immediate gratification because you get to impact on their quality of life,” he explains. “I’ve often said to family doctors that we’re luckier than they are, because so often people go in (to family doctors) when they’re sick and they don’t see them again until they’re sick again. We get to make them feel better.”
Springer started out in zoology, but both of his parents independently suggested chiropody to him. “I decided to check it out. I had to chose between bugs and people, and people it was,” the past president of the Ontario Society of Chiropodists explains.
Springer, who also served on the board of the College of Chiropodists of Ontario, has been working since 1983. He’s plied his trade in hospitals and health-care clinics across Ontario and, like most chiropodists, wound up in private practice. He says chiropodists work hand in hand — or foot in foot?
— with other doctors.
“We have to understand about all the body systems and how they’re integrated. We have to be in a position to recognize other conditions so we can refer appropriately,” he says. “If you stick with a rational treatment plan for somebody, 90 per cent of time you see an improvement in their comfort. It really can be a quality of life issue.”
Problems of the feet sometimes point to bigger issues. When Springer worked in a general hospital, he had to rush a patient to emergency. “The evidence I saw in front of me was that he’d recently had a stroke and he didn’t even know.”
The victim had sat down in his La-Z-Boy and couldn’t get up. He had problems walking and went to Stringer in the hopes a shoe insert would sort things out. “They think it’s nothing related to anything bigger, ‘My feet just aren’t working properly.’”
To become a chiropodist, you need an undergraduate degree before studying at a health institute that teaches chiropody.
“It prepares people to deal with all the diseases, disorders and dysfunctions of the foot,” says Springer.