Hot-footing his way to career success: one podiatrist’s journey

Branching out into surgery, leading the national student arm of a professional body and setting up a charity were just a few of the extra strings added to a podiatrist’s professional bow after studying at Northampton.

Usamah Khalid joined the University of Northampton’s BSc Podiatry programme in 2014: “I visited a number of other universities, as I was looking for the best degree and the best fit for me. But Northampton stood head and shoulders above the rest for their sterling reputation, clinical facilities and university rankings. It was a natural choice to study at the best university for podiatry.”

Usamah graduated last year with a First Class honours degree, but his time at Northampton wasn’t just spent in lectures and practice at the University’s very own clinic. During his downtime he took part in a number of extra-curricular activities that kept him busy and developed his knowledge and skill set in ways he never imagined possible.

Usamah explains: “I’m not the kind of person who likes to sit around and thankfully, the University provided me with a number of different doors to open and enhance my skills. The one thing I'm really proud of is being a class representative for podiatry and also heading up and representing all students within the former Faculty of Health & Society.

“This itself opened up another door as I was elected Chair of the Students’ Association for The College of Podiatry (CPSA), representing all 2,500 student podiatrists across the UK. It was a real privilege to be the voice for the future of my profession and it allowed me to represent students and promote podiatry to MPs and even The Duchess of Cornwall, who is the college’s royal patron.

“I never expected when I started my degree to do such things, but the opportunity to be the CPSA Chair was only possible through the extensive experience I gained at the University. I continue to work alongside the college as it modernises and adapts to an ever-changing landscape.

“I was also keen to use my clinical skills to help others less fortunate, so a few friends and I founded a charity to help the people in Pakistan with podiatric problems. Armed with my degree, training and new-found skills, the team and I spent two weeks treating, advising and educating locals on the importance of looking after their feet.

“This was received amazingly well and lead to press conferences, television appearances and newspaper articles. This was big enough, but further doors were opened as we had meetings with the education and health secretaries of the Pakistani government to effect change and explore how podiatric intervention in primary care can improve patient outcomes for the people of Pakistan.”

Following his first degree, Usamah has continued along the podiatry learning curve, embarking on a Master’s in a specific professional area – surgery: “I’m currently studying the theory of podiatric surgery and this was only attainable through the training I had during my undergraduate degree.

“The University’s clinic is next door to the main hospital in town and I was able to experience surgical placements as a student. Very quickly, I knew that surgery was going to be the area I wanted to specialise in and I was able to pursue that interest further by exposure to such opportunities earlier on, a novel and integral aspect of Northampton’s podiatry programme.”