City slicker turned country clinician Anne Dallas has embraced becoming a rural podiatrist.

In readiness for the annual Rural Day in Fielding this Friday, the theme of which this year is ‘Footrot Flats’, her clinic, Footwork Podiatry, has renamed itself FooTrot Treatment Centre, decorated its windows with Wal’s favourite footwear, and is promising a ‘slice of heaven’ for weary rural feet that traipse its way.

PodiatryNZ chief executive Jennifer Pelvin says there is a critical shortage of podiatrists in rural and regional New Zealand “however, podiatrist Anne Dallas has embraced the rural area with a passion”.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Health Science (Podiatry) in 1997, Dallas worked in many aspects of podiatry both in New Zealand and in the UK.

But it was not until five years ago, when she and her husband made a lifestyle decision to move out of the Capital and set up business in the Manawatu, that she discovered the benefits of living in a regional community and developing her podiatry skills. She says she now proudly boasts on her CV that she is New Zealand’s “podiatry gumboot expert”.

Pelvin says that despite Dallas’s love and commitment to her busy regional practice, she, like many other podiatry businesses in New Zealand, is having problems recruiting staff.

There are only 400 registered podiatrists in New Zealand and the workforce is less than half the number per head of population that there is in Australia. Pelvin says PodiatryNZ, the professional body for podiatrists, estimates that New Zealand has 70 per cent more lower limb amputations than Australia due to high-risk foot disease in people with diabetes  – a condition that can be managed very effectively by early podiatric intervention.

What is podiatry?  Podiatry is a specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and management of diseases, defects and injuries of the foot, ankle and lower limb. This includes ankle and foot injuries, problems with gait or walking, complications related to medical conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis, and diseases of the skin or nails, such as cracked heels, ingrown toenails, neuromas, warts and fungal conditions.

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