Training of Podiatric Surgeons in Australia
Podiatric surgery is a specialist field in the podiatry profession involving the surgical treatment of conditions affecting the foot, ankle and related lower extremity structures.
Table 1. Schematic depiction of training pathway to become a podiatric surgeon in Australia.
The title of podiatric surgeon is protected in Australia under the National Law, and podiatric surgeons are recognised as registered specialists by the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA) in the same light as medical specialists and dental specialists. In order to practise as a podiatric surgeon in Australia practitioners must meet registration standards as defined by the National Law and the Podiatry Board of Australia. A copy of the current registration standards can be found here.
Training programs to become a podiatric surgeon in Australia are assessed and accredited by an independent organisation named the Australian and New Zealand Podiatry Accreditation Council (ANZPAC). The Doctor of Podiatric Surgery degree provided through the School of Surgery at The University of Western Australia is an approved program of study to become a podiatric surgeon in Australia.
Specialist training programs in podiatric surgery take 3 years of full-time equivalent work to complete. Prior to applying for a surgical training position, a practitioner must have completed a Bachelor's degree (or higher) in podiatric medicine and must be registered as a podiatrist with the Podiatry Board of Australia. After 2 years of working in general practice, podiatrists who meet the eligibility requirements are then able apply for entry into a surgical training course.
The selection process for a training position is competitive and there are only several new positions availability nationally each year. At present time, the total number of podiatric surgeons registered nationally (30) proportionally accounts for less than 1% of the total population of registered podiatrists practicing in Australia (~4600).