Podiatry success: from student to Senior Lecturer at 25 years old
At only 25, our very own University of Brighton, Podiatry BSc (Hons) graduate, Dao Tunprasert has been promoted to Senior Lecturer and for anyone who knows her; this is so well deserved!
A member of our highly enthusiastic and well qualified podiatry team, Dao has kindly taken some time to speak to us a little bit about why podiatry is an important health profession, and why studying at University of Brighton is the best place to be.
1. How did you first become interested in podiatry?
I am Thai born and my dad who is a surgeon, was the one who introduced me to podiatry. Although I applied (and got accepted) to medical school in Thailand, I wanted the opportunity to explore the world as an international student. I became interested in the uniqueness of a profession that doesn’t really exist in Thailand. At the time, as far as I was aware, there were only four qualified Thai podiatrists in the world, and none of these work in podiatry in Thailand.
2. Why Podiatry?
I like learning about the human body. One particular thing that I am passionate about is gait, which is how people walk. How people walk, the muscles, and bones fascinate me, especially learning about the simple tasks that we do every day without thinking. The Musculoskeletal (MSK) system which is bones, skin and muscle, is the area that I find fascinating. Once I researched this, and learnt about how the nervous system controls the MSK, that was it for me – I was hooked!
3. How did you learn about podiatry and become involved in teaching?
As there are no podiatry courses in Thailand, in 2010, I came to the UK and started the International Foundation Year in Sciences and shortly after this, I began my BSc in Podiatry at University of Brighton. It was during my third year of study that I became a leader for the Peer Assisted Study Session (PASS) where student volunteers are trained and supervised in leadership, facilitation and communication skills. As part of this mentoring programme I helped 1st year students learn about the anatomy.
After my MSc in Biomechanics, I joined the University of Brighton Podiatry team in January 2015. I started my teaching qualification in September 2015, and will be finished by this July.
As a module leader, I teach 2 undergraduate modules and 1 postgraduate module. I also teach on other modules including the ‘Analysis of Function’ (physiotherapy and podiatry) and on ‘Musculoskeletal & Immune Systems’, on Gait for the Brighton Sussex Medical School. (Dao’s full academic profile can be viewed here.)
I love teaching which is why I applied for this job. I like learning and working and as a lecturer you are paid to learn. I get to read all the news and be up to date with accessing journals, books and sitting in on other people’s lectures. It is definitely a perk of the job if you like learning.
“I like learning and working – as a Lecturer you are paid to learn”.
4. Why do you think students should consider podiatry as a health topic to study?
It gives students a real opportunity to explore various aspects of healthcare. I believe that there is something in podiatry for everyone.
For example, a sports person may want to focus on MSK (bones, skin and muscle) part; treating injuries, making insoles and doing gait analysis. In fact I know a number of podiatrists that are working for famous football and rugby clubs in the UK.
Wound and ulcer care
However, if MSK and sports are not your thing, you may be interested in wound care. If you are ready to make a difference to people’s lives by saving their limbs, wound care is something to consider. You could directly be involved in the prevention of loss of limbs, and possibly loss of life. Ulcer care is an area that you would also learn about. As part of knowing how to treat these patients, you would identify and be able to treat those that are high risk, and those who are likely to develop ulcers due complications from diabetes.
Podopediatrics (development of children’s feet)
There is opportunity to look at the development of children’s feet and the milestones of this development.
Provide relief to those in immense pain
We often have patients come in and they are in a lot of pain.
“It is really satisfying that we can provide instant relief for those people that are in immense pain – they often leave stating they feel like they are walking on air.”
Podiatry as a preventative measure
Podiatry is not about cutting toe nails, but cutting nails for patients can form part of an important preventative measure. In the event that a patient has a loss of sensation, and can’t reach their feet to cut their toenails, the nail can potentially dig into their toe, and create a wound. Because the patient has a loss of sensation, they don’t always know it’s there, which can lead to a number of issues. The NHS service sometimes offer nail care to those they believe may be of an ‘at risk’ background, and if these patients are not supported with their nail care, they may develop other complications that may lead to loss of limb or life.
5. Why do you think that students should come to UoB to study it?
In addition to being supported to study the area of podiatry that interests you, there are a number of reasons why you should come to the University of Brighton.
The excellent facility that we have at the Leaf hospital in Eastbourne, is unique in that contains a 21 cubicle clinic that is used to treat NHS patients. As a teaching hospital, we have a number of teaching facilities, including our anatomy room. Here students from Year 1 can do their own dissection on the cadavers under careful supervision, and in a respectful and controlled environment.
The minor surgery suite teaches the ‘gold standard of infection control and procedure’ when it comes to minor surgery operation, including nail surgery and electro surgery.
“With our own NHS clinic, our students have the autonomy to have their own caseloads where they can follow patient progress from year 2 until the end of their degree.
Specialist lecturers, many of whom are current practitioners/clinical educators in their field
If our students have specific interests, they are encouraged to learn more about these and include them on their case load. We have a supportive staff team with different expertise, which in turn brings different strengths to the team in terms of teaching. We have a number of experts who work full-time in NHS / practice, but who also work as trained clinical educators.
For example at the moment we have an extended scope MSK podiatrist (Band 8), a nail surgery specialist and a wound care specialist working as clinical educators. Each of these are experts in their field and give up one day each week of their time to come and teach, share their up to date knowledge and experience with our students.
Supportive environment to learn from your tutors and your peers
Our students can explore their opportunities further and explore their weaknesses further. We can really offer them an environment where they have the support of the tutor and also be able to draw on the support of their peers. After all, it’s better to learn now, in this environment, before you qualify and go out to work.
“Our podiatry students start seeing patients very early from year 1”
6. If you are happy to share – please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us!
I love photography. I was a President of a photography club in high school. I still enjoy taking my camera to go on a stroll in the city or the countryside and take photos.
7. What advice would you give to those thinking about podiatry as a career? How could they best prepare?
Come in and observe Leaf Hospital. If you are not sure if this is the profession for you, we are more than happy for students to come in and observe our clinics at Leaf Hospital. You can do this by e-mailing me direct on T.Tunprasert2@brighton.ac.uk to arrange this. If you can’t get to us at the Leaf Hospital, the alternative is to find a local podiatrist who are willing to welcome students to observe their clinic, and you can do this via the Careers in Podiatry website.
Find out more about studying podiatry at University of Brighton and join our new student podiatrists starting in September.