One of the most common questions we get from new patients is “What exactly is a Pedorthist? Is that the same thing as a Podiatrist?” The simple answer is no, although we have some elements of our practice in common, we are very different.
There are quite a few specialized footcare professionals available to us in Canada, and it can be confusing to know which professional you ought to see for your specific concerns. In Ontario, we have Pedorthists, Podiatrists, Chiropodists, Foot Care Nurses, and Orthotists available to provide varying levels of foot care. Depending on your specific situation, you may need to be seen by one or more of these clinicians to best treat your condition(s).
First, let’s take a closer look at the scope of practice, skills and knowledge of each of these professionals. Here’s a quick overview chart, with full descriptions below:
- Focus: Foot and lower limb
- Areas of Practice: Foot orthotics and orthopaedic footwear. Pedorthists are specifically trained in the assessment of the foot and lower limb, the design, manufacture and fitting of custom foot orthoses, and footwear modifications, such as shoe lifts.
- Services Provided: Comprehensive foot assessments, Custom foot orthotics, modifications to orthotics, footwear modifications, orthopaedic footwear fitting, Off the shelf orthotics (non-custom), custom toe spacers, Bunion splints, Plantar Fasciitis Splints
- Training: 4 year Undergraduate degree in Kinesiology (or related field such as Human Kinetics) plus a Diploma in Pedorthics (12 month post-graduate program) OR a 3 year Apprenticeship.
- Certification/Credentials: Canadian Certified Pedorthist (C Ped (C) )
- Focus: Foot
- Areas of practice: The assessment of the foot and the treatment and prevention of diseases, disorders or dysfunctions of the foot by therapeutic, orthotic or palliative means (Chiropody act, 1991).
- Services Provided: Comprehensive foot assessments, Skin and nail care, surgical procedures on the subcutaneous tissues of the foot, and assess for/design custom foot orthotics.
- Training: 4 year Undergraduate degree (BSc or BA Kin.), plus 3 year diploma program in Chiropody
- Certification/Credentials: Diploma of Health Sciences – Chiropody (DCh)
- Focus: Foot
- Areas of Practice: In Ontario, Podiatrists are a class of members of the College of Chiropodists. They are able to provide all of the same services as Chiropodists. Podiatrists may also communicate a diagnosis to their patient and perform surgical procedures on the bones of the foot. Chiropodists may do neither.
- Services Provided: Comprehensive foot assessments, Skin and nail care, surgical procedures on the subcutaneous and bony tissues of the foot, and assess for/design custom foot orthotics.
- Training: 4 year Undergraduate degree (BSc/BA) and Doctor of Podiatry Medicine degree (DPM)
- Certification/Credentials: Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM)
Foot Care Nurse
- Focus: Whole body scope of practice, can provide footcare
- Area of Practice: Nurses can provide skin and nail care for patients with foot deformities, mobility issues, diabetes and other complications or conditions.
- Services Provided: Basic foot care including assessment of the condition of the feet, pedicures, treatment of basic foot conditions, skin care advice and sensitivity testing for diabetes.
- Training: 4 year Undergraduate Nursing degree (BScN)
- Certification/Credentials: Registered Nurse (RN)
- Focus: Whole body scope of practice, can provide basic foot assessments
- Area of Practice: Orthotists are trained to assess for, design, manufacture and fit orthotics for all parts of the body, including the feet.
- Services Provided: Basic foot assessment, Custom foot orthotics, Ankle-foot orthotics.
- Training: 4 year Undergraduate degree (BSc/BA), Diploma in Prosthetics and Orthotics (2 years) and an Internship (minimum 1 year).
- Certification/Credentials: Certified Orthotist (C.O.)
Depending on your needs, you may need to be seen by one or more of the aforementioned professionals. As you can see, there isn’t a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to footcare; we all have our own set of skills and expertise.
If you still have questions or want to see one of our top-notch Pedorthists, contact us at any time!