Submitted by Pam Josey, LPN
Why did I become a foot care nurse? I thought in the beginning that I would simply meet a need within the hospital/nursing home facilities in which I was working. As I worked through Alison Petten’s (foot care educator/instructor) excellent course, I discovered a passion that was a huge surprise to me. I loved it!
Upon completion of my course, In addition to starting my own business, I took on the free clinic for low income people at Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital in Sheet Harbour where I had spent my career working on the front line. I quickly discovered a huge need within this population. While many of us would simply go to the store and purchase a pair of shoes, this was simply not an option for these people due to lack of financial resources, transportation, or both. Last Christmas, I started collecting good used shoes from staff so that I could at least offer some people a safer shoe than what they were wearing. I had people who were very excited and grateful to receive a second-hand pair of footwear. I secretly wished that I could do more.
That wish manifested in a big way this spring. I was doing a little networking at Soles in Motion at Baker Drive in Dartmouth. I was introduced to Jennifer Estabrooks who is the General Manager and part owner at this location. To my great surprise, Jennifer is a huge community supporter and she wondered if we could coordinate an event (Outside of Metro) to fit free footwear to the people most in need and without the resources to afford this level of quality. I stood in that store fighting to hold back tears!
To date we have held two “Shoe Clinics” with a third booked for late October. These shoe clinics were among the most rewarding days of my career. The people we cared for were so excited to be fitted into their new shoes. It was an emotional experience of giving and receiving for all involved. Jennifer and I were both present on a volunteer basis. Jennifer supplied her time, travel, expertise and footwear all free of charge. For my part, I organized the event and remained present to support the smooth running of each clinic.
Why is a good pair of shoes so important? Research indicates:
“Ill-fitting footwear is a significant cause of ulcers and amputations for the diabetic population.” (Best Practice Recommendations for the Prevention and Management of Diabetic Foot Ulcers/Foundation of Best Practice for Shin and Wound Management)
“Adequate preventive footwear is critical for people with diabetes and neuropathy and is a central recommendation in internal guidelines for protecting feet from injury and preventing ulceration.” (Bus S, Netten J, Lavery L, Monteiro-Soares M, Rasmussen A, Jubiz Y et al. IWGDF Guidance on the prevention of foot ulcers in at risk patients with diabetes. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2016;32(S1):16-24.)
Foot care nurses do not simply look after feet. We look after the whole person who has feet. Through a comprehensive assessment process, we identify risk and develop a plan of care in which we address the risk factors identified and then evaluate our interventions. This is the nursing process in action.
What have I discovered since becoming a foot care nurse? I have discovered that I can truly care for people in a way that I never could before. One-on-one appointments afford time and being present for each patient, which builds a rapport that was rare on the front line. Foot care nurses can make a huge impact with each person in their care, one foot at a time! To me, this is an exciting and rewarding area of nursing and I am so grateful to have found this calling.
Pam Josey LPN