Zoe Boulton

Current employer: NHS

Current job title: Diabetes Podiatrist

Current location: Exeter

“The podiatry school at Plymouth has a great balance of academic work and clinical work which is really important for your career... There was always a great atmosphere in class and now many of my closest friends have become the podiatrists who I trained with.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

After I graduated I started work with an NHS community team, which varied from nail care to biomechanics and wound care. I realised I enjoyed the wound care aspect most of all and was lucky enough to begin working both in the acute diabetic foot clinic and on the wards as an inpatient podiatrist. My job now is really very varied and I work in a fantastic multidisciplinary team with vascular, orthopaedic and diabetes consultants, orthotists and tissue viability nurses providing and coordinating all aspects of care for diabetic patients with foot wounds. Alongside this, I am also undertaking a masters in podiatry and the diabetic foot.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

From starting as a community podiatrist I have moved into the acute diabetic foot clinic where the job is solely wound focused, helping to co-ordinate care for these patients. I also work on the wards of the hospital which, before taking the job, I had never done before. I am now in charge of ensuring that patients move between the inpatient and outpatients services smoothly.

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

Working with wound care patients is challenging; sometimes there is simply nothing else that can be offered to our patients, and further surgery such as amputation is required. When you have known the patient for a long time and have been involved in their care this can be difficult to talk about.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Setting up an inpatient diabetes podiatry service is the best and most exciting thing I have done in my career to date. Before coming to my current job there was no podiatry provision for patients in hospital with foot wounds. I was able to meet lots of different health care professionals whilst I set up the service, learnt about what care is needed on an inpatient setting, and I have subsequently gained a lot of new skills. Now we are able to provide a podiatry service for patients in hospital and can bring them back to the outpatient clinics when they are discharged to ensure continued care.  

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

Podiatry is a great career and is really varied. It is really rewarding helping people get back on their feet and back to their day to day life after overcoming a foot problem. It’s important to integrate yourself as part of a multidisciplinary team, as not only does it allow you to provide the best care for the patient but it also allows you to learn from colleagues and create great networks.  

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Studying at Plymouth gave me the skills both clinically and academically to progress in my career. It also allowed me to learn a lot about myself and gave me the confidence and beliefs to step outside of my comfort zone and challenge my thoughts on topics.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

Placements were an excellent way to get experience in clinical situations, allowing me to really develop my clinical skills and knowledge. Being able to work in a number of different Trusts also meant that I got to see lots of different types of practice and observe different ideas which I was then able to learn from and use myself when I started working.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

Graduation, because you had a great sense of achievement having made it to the end of your three years of studying, and with all your friends there alongside you made it even more special. We had a fantastic class and it was great to be able to celebrate our success with them and our families and friends.

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

Never be afraid to ask for help. There is always going to be something which you have never seen, heard of, or know about at every stage of your career. When I first qualified I felt like I was asking for advice a lot, but that’s how you learn; even now, my colleagues and I ask each other for advice all the time.

Do you have anything you would like to share specifically about the Podiatry School?

The podiatry school at Plymouth has a great balance of academic work and clinical work which is really important for your career. The lecturers were always very supportive and passionate about their topic areas which really inspired me to keep learning and enhancing my knowledge. There was always a great atmosphere in class and now many of my closest friends have become the podiatrists who I trained with.

Do you stay in touch with other University of Plymouth alumni or lecturers?

Yes, after graduation I have kept in contact with a number of the lecturers and I have always been grateful for their advice.

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

Yes, the University of Plymouth has a great balance of academic work and a vibrant social scene which means you can have a great time whilst learning.

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.

Want to find similar alumni?

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.

BSc (Hons) Podiatry - image courtesy of Shutterstock