My internship experience at East Coast Podiatry (ECP) was invaluable as it allowed me to witness how private practice works in Singapore podiatry. It was an eye-opening experience for me as ECP uses highly advanced methods, technology and devices compared to the practices I had experienced in Australia. One example is the use of anatomy apps as an aid for patient education. I thought the use of these apps was really helpful as it provided patients an in-depth explanation of their own conditions and helped patients to visualise their conditions. This also highlighted the importance of patient education in the practice and the usefulness of technology in a modern podiatric practice.
The first-line treatment approach in ECP focuses on more effective treatments rather than simple conservative treatments due to the higher expectations of patients. Patients in private clinics often expect high quality services and effective treatments in a short period of time in return for the premium they pay in comparison to public healthcare. This creates a fast-paced environment where podiatrists see patients who have expectations of a full recovery in a short period of time. However, in my previous experience I usually start with simple conservative management approaches such as padding, strapping or stretching exercises rather than prescribing more rigorous treatments first. Therefore at ECP, I have learned that patients in public and private healthcare have different expectations and it is critical to take patients’ expectations and conditions into consideration to ensure an optimal patient experience and prognosis.
My time at ECP also gave me the opportunity to work with a team of international podiatrists consisting of individuals who had trained in different places and come from different cultural backgrounds. All of them were experienced and I got to learn more about their individual approaches towards treatment and handling patients. They were very patient and detailed in explaining and educating patients about their specific conditions as well as treatment plans. After shadowing with them, I think my patient consultation skills have improved as the podiatrists demonstrated proper in-depth consultations and the ability to establish excellent communication with patients. The podiatrists were also highly dedicated to their work, frequently seeing patients past clinic hours, updating and communicating with patients outside of working hours to ensure that their patients’ recovery is proceeding smoothly. My time at ECP has made more confident in interacting with patients and also reinforced the idea that being a good podiatrist often extends beyond clinical and consultation hours.
During this 4-week internship, I was exposed to a variety of cases and various types of treatments which were new to me. Due to the difference of patient demographics, I saw many more patients of different age groups and from various multicultural backgrounds. In comparison, most of the patients I saw in Perth were elderly patients who mostly came in for routine care, chronic cases and few cases would be musculoskeletal-related. It was good to work with diverse patient populations, especially paediatric patients, since I rarely saw such paediatric cases in Perth. It was a great opportunity for me to improve my knowledge in a variety of specialities within podiatry.
Furthermore, musculoskeletal (MSK) cases in Singapore are more common as compared to my experience in Perth. This was highly educational for me as MSK and orthotic prescription were areas I was less familiar with as I had not seen many such cases back in Australia. Through working with the various podiatrists and observing patients first-hand, I learned a lot regarding MSK-related cases and greatly expanded my knowledge over the month.
During the placement, I have also learned a lot about new treatment technologies that I had never used or seen. The opportunity to get some hands-on experience with these new treatment modalities was a highlight of my internship as these modalities were unavailable during my time in various Australian practices.
During the internship, I also had the opportunity to work closely with the senior podiatrists at Singapore Diabetic Foot Centre, a highly specialized diabetic foot unit operated by ECP, truly one of its kind. During the initial consultation in SDFC, I noticed that the patient history taking was substantially more detailed, and the diabetic foot assessments were also very comprehensive. I was told that this was necessary due to the complications that diabetes posed for patients and the necessity of having a full picture when treating such patients. This helped me understand how the podiatrists at SDFC performed detailed diabetic screening, and also taught me the importance of patient education, particularly on living well with diabetes.
I was also able to participate in staff development days, which are held weekly. We would have staff meetings, case presentations, and clinical training. I thought the training day was very beneficial because I got to learn from the sharing of experienced podiatrists on their cases, put my new skills into practice, and update myself with the various developments in the industry.
Overall, my internship experience in ECP has been exciting and fruitful as I have learned an incredible amount over the month. I am truly grateful to have this opportunity for me to learn and grow as a future podiatrist. The team welcomed me and included me on all of their activities, including training workshops as well as cohesion activities. It truly exceeded my expectations.
Jia Hui Ing
Final Year Podiatry Student
University of Western Australia
27th July 2018