Joanne Paton – BSc (Hons) Podiatry graduate

Current employer: Plymouth University; the Livewell Southwest

Current job title: NIHR Clinical Lecturer; Podiatrist

Current location: Plymouth

“Never underestimate the difference your care makes to people’s lives. I have examples of where limbs and lives have been saved by routine podiatry care, or where issuing an insole has kept people on their feet and living independently in their own home.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

I began my career working as a podiatrist in a GP practice in Cornwall. I then got hooked on biomechanics and became a musculoskeletal podiatrist specialist. A return to education to complete my masters gave me a renewed thirst for knowledge, whereupon I accepted a secondment to the BSc Podiatry teaching team whilst undertaking a part-time PhD. With a passion for more research, I left NHS employment to join the University full time. My current job combines clinical NHS practice with academic research. Funded by NIHR, my current clinical lectureship is a potential career pathway for any AHP: the NIHR Clinical Researcher Career Pathway for AHPs funds opportunities from masters level upward.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

Yes, several times both in terms of job role and area of expertise. I moved from a clinical role to a teaching post and then onto my current job as clinical researcher. In parallel, my clinical expertise shifted focus from musculoskeletal specialist to diabetes specialist, working with the multidisciplinary team at Derriford. More recently, my area of expertise has morphed into something unique: biomechanics of the diabetic foot.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Change and transition is always difficult. Changing job roles and clinical focus was very challenging; moving from a position of comfort and competence to one of self-doubt. However, by far the greatest challenge remains balancing the busy role as a mum with a career.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

The NIHR Clinical Researcher programme is a fantastic opportunity for anyone wanting to work in health research. Take the opportunities that make you happy and keep moving forward.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

The people. I have very fond memories of the kind and supportive teaching team, as well as the great bunch of class mates – several of whom I still catch up with from time to time.

Do you have anything you would like to share from your time working in a clinic?

Never underestimate the difference your care makes to people’s lives. I have examples of where limbs and lives have been saved by routine podiatry care, or where issuing an insole has kept people on their feet and living independently in their own home.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

Yes. Where else can you enjoy a coastal and moorland environment whilst embarking on a podiatry degree resourced by a modern, well-equipped training clinic and a state of the art movement analysis laboratory?

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying podiatry please visit our BSc (Hons) Podiatry page. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Health Professions, please visit the school page.

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If you would like to find out what other relevant alumni from the School of Health Professions are currently doing, please visit the health and social work interest area.