In today’s Sector Spotlight on Health and Beauty we hear from Kirsten Sinclair, who is a Podiatrist and business owner.
After school, Kirsten studied Podiatry in Edinburgh and once qualified, worked for NHS Orkney. After starting her family and not wanting to return to work full-time, she set up her own business which gave her the freedom to fit work around her family’s needs. Now that her children are older, Kirsten has been able to focus on growing her business and recently opened the Hygge Clinic, which offers a variety of therapies including podiatry, sports therapy and counselling.
Can you describe a typical day as a Podiatrist?
A typical day sees me treating patients who have a wide variety of needs. In Podiatry, we might see people who need help with their general foot care for a number of reasons such as failing eye sight, difficulties with their hands or an inability to get down to their feet.
We also help people with muscular pain, such as heel or calf pain, people with joint problems like arthritis and people who are recovering from injuries like ankle sprains.
We keep an eye on ‘at risk’ patients by doing neurological and vascular assessments. We can also do minor surgeries, such as nail surgery for in-growing nails.
Podiatrists are now able to supply certain drugs such as antibiotics where appropriate, so we might prescribe these if someone presents with an infection.
As well as diagnosing and treating our patients, we come up with a treatment plan for the maintenance of their health going forward. We write treatment notes up for each patient to keep a record of what they’ve had done. We also make sure our instruments are sterilised and maintained to the highest standards, we do appointment bookings and work our social media pages to get in front of potential clients.
Each day is different as all of our patients have different needs and issues.
How did you end up in your current role ?
I left school at 17 and went to Edinburgh to study Podiatry. I was offered a job with NHS Orkney when I was in third year, on the condition that I passed my exams, so I got my head down and got a Distinction Pass and began work with the NHS in June 2001.
I fell pregnant a few months later and, following my maternity leave, looked to return to work when my eldest was around nine months old. However, as my maternity leave had started before I had worked for the NHS for a full year, I would have to return to work full time. I chose not to return as I did not want to be a full time working Mum. Rather than let the blood, sweat and tears I had put into my degree go to waste, I decided I’d start my own business.
I purchased a few basic items and started out offering home visits for people around the Orkney mainland. I started out just seeing a handful of people each week. This suited me well as I was working around my husband’s shifts and, a couple of years later, two small children. My business organically grew alongside my kids.
The Pickaquoy Centre asked if I’d be interested in working from there so that became my first ‘clinic’. After a while I left and rented a room in a different place. It was great but I was frustrated and wanted more. I was also working at CLAN at the time offering therapies there but found that I was getting so busy, something had to give. I gave up my hours at CLAN to focus on my Podiatry.
Now that the boys are in their teens I have been able to focus more on growing my business to where it is presently. Last year I opened up my own four room wellbeing clinic, The Hygge Clinic, and feel like my business is going from strength to strength.
This year I started a Post-Graduate Certificate in Global Entrepreneurship with a view to using this and my own experience to help others start their own businesses.
What is the best thing about your job?
Helping other people is hands down the best bit. There’s nothing like helping someone to be pain free, sometimes in just one treatment, and seeing them leave with a smile.
What is the worst thing about your job?
Not being able to switch off. I have to put my phone and laptop away as I can get work related messages 24/7.
What skills do you need to undertake your role?
Obviously clinical skills are key but I really feel that people skills are vital in my job.
You have to be able to really listen to your patients and to let them know that you hear what they are saying and are prepared to take their views on board and build them into their treatment plan or to reason with them when that is not possible.
Different people need to be spoken with in different ways and the ability to suss out people’s individual needs as a person as well as a patient is so important.
What qualifications do you have?
I have a BSc Podiatry and have added on some other qualifications along the way, including a qualification in life coaching which I plan to use as part of my business coaching in the future.
I have expanded my Podiatry degree with add on courses in Podiatric soft tissue mobilisation, joint mobilisations, joint manipulations and nail reconstruction with plans to do more.
Would you recommend Podiatry as a career to young people?
Yes! Podiatry is so much more than ‘just feet’. We are highly skilled and can often help to ease people’s pain immediately. In certain settings with high risk patients we literally have the ability to save limbs or even lives.
Podiatry is a job that offers great variety and the option to specialise if you wish, this could be in paediatrics, rheumatology, sports or vascular and these are just a few areas off the top of my head. There are currently lots of opportunities for employment or scope for starting your own business and the potential to make good money.
Visit The Hygge Clinic (incorporating Orkney Podiatry) on: