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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Dr Cathy Bowen visited Malta in January

The University of Malta's department of Podiatry sits within the Faculty of Health Sciences and offers undergraduate studies in the area of podiatry. The department is responsible for providing both the theoretical and clinical training leading to the degree in podiatry and license to practice within Malta, either within the Department of Health or private practice.

The core academic podiatry team is small. Dr Cynthia Formosa is head of department; Dr Alfred Gatt and Mr Stephen Mizzi are both full time lecturers; and Mrs Annabel Mizzi is a clinical academic lecturer. I first met the team when they undertook their masters degrees in podiatry at the University of Brighton (2000 - 2002) when I was their programme leader.

The department therefore enjoys international collaborations with external key note lecturers who are experts in various extended scope podiatric practices. Building on this, the team are keen to foster Erasmus links with UK institutions such as the University of Southampton. For both these reasons, this was my second invited trip over to Malta to work with the team, my first visit being in December 2012.

The model for clinical learning is very similar to our own Faculty of Health Sciences placement model in which all the core clinical teaching takes place in practice within the Department of Health (our NHS equivalent). This places us in a unique position with Malta as currently no other institutions (worldwide) run full placement models for podiatry training to the extent that we do. Therefore we believe there is an excellent opportunity to develop a long-term student exchange programme and promote wider experience of podiatry between different cultures.

As well as meeting with the team I also ran key note workshops with final year podiatry students introducing them to musculoskeletal ultrasound imaging of the foot and ankle and its importance as an emergent extended scope practice in our field. The workshops evaluated really well and the students were all engaged throughout and looked after me with an endless supply of cappuccinos!

On the Tuesday evening I was invited to run a similar workshop for The Association of Podiatrists of Malta (APM). The APM is a non-profit, apolitical professional organisation, representing podiatrists practicing the profession in Malta, and promotes the field of podiatric medicine. Again this was an extremely enjoyable evening that evaluated really well. I enjoyed catching up with the podiatrists and learning more about their scope of practice as well as discussing post-graduate opportunities with them. Since its formation in 1999, and the development of the first podiatry programme in Malta in 2002, the organisation has made tremendous advances in developing podiatry. As well as excitement over the potential for the use of diagnostic ultrasound within their practices, they are now looking to embrace podiatric surgery and independent prescribing as has happened within the UK.

To summarise I felt privileged to be invited back to Malta a second time. Whilst it was wet, cold and hailing in the UK, I enjoyed sunny Malta in lots of ways. The team, the students and the podiatrists in Malta are all extremely welcoming and I was really well looked after. I look forward to building on and making our links stronger through Erasmus exchanges for our undergraduate students and potentially working with more of the podiatrists through post-graduate study.

Finally I am delighted to say that I have been invited back again next December just in time for the Christmas festivities!

Dr Cathy Bowen

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