While we are caught up in heavy commitments and the race towards meeting our deadlines, the last thing we would think about are our feet. As such, we underestimate the importance of good footwear or the seriousness of a foot problem, choosing to take essential foot care measures only when it is too late.
However, adopting good foot care habits – such as wearing footwear that fits well – can keep a range of foot injuries at bay. For instance, wearing good footwear that fits well stops the formation of blisters for diabetics, thus preventing further complications from occurring. Podiatrists are thus important in ensuring good care of feet and increased physical well-being among patients.
Podiatrist and Healthcare Scholar Izza Atiqa Ishak strongly advocates the necessity of foot care. At the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), Izza and her team strive to make good foot care behaviour a way of life. She tells us more about her role and her journey towards a career in podiatry.
What sparked your interest in healthcare and, in particular, podiatry?
Izza Ishak: I have always enjoyed working with people and felt that a career in healthcare would be a meaningful pursuit. When I was in junior college, I participated in a job-shadowing programme where I shadowed different allied health professionals. I found podiatry to be the most unique and hands-on profession, and was particularly interested in the role of podiatry in managing foot complications for people with diabetes and other chronic medical conditions.
You are a recipient of the healthcare scholarship. What opportunities were you given?
Izza: During my undergraduate studies at the University of Western Australia, I had the opportunity to go on clinical placements in a variety of places, including the UK and the rural parts of Western Australia. Being exposed to different clinical settings and healthcare systems was vital to my learning, as it allowed me to see the bigger picture of managing a patient’s condition. It also gave me the opportunity to meet patients from diverse cultures and backgrounds, such as the Indigenous Australians, who had very different customs and ways of life. Interacting with them made me appreciate the need to have flexibility in delivering healthcare, and the importance of developing an approach that is suited to the culture and environment of a certain community.
Izza Atiqa Ishak
Podiatrist, Singapore General Hospital
Tell us more about your role at SGH today.
Izza: As a podiatrist, I diagnose and treat musculoskeletal foot conditions that can arise from acute or chronic injuries. I also manage foot complications, such as foot ulcers, that may arise in patients with diabetes, kidney disease, and peripheral vascular disease.
Our role goes beyond diagnosing and treating foot conditions. We play an upstream role in the prevention of lower limb complications. With the rising prevalence of diabetes and other chronic illnesses in Singapore, prevention is key to reduce the burden of such illnesses. As podiatrists, we help in the prevention of foot complications by addressing foot problems at an early stage and delivering education so as to help patients adopt good foot care habits and increase awareness of foot health in general.
What makes your job fulfilling?
Izza: The patients I get to meet make most days at work fulfilling. I love listening to the stories they tell me, and am always inspired by the lives they lead despite having to deal with the difficulties of their health conditions.
Recently, one of my patients shared with me his success of being awarded the Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) Most Inspiring Patient Award. Despite being physically challenged, he was greatly determined to find job opportunities and was always working to upgrade his skills. The award that he received has opened many doors for him; he was invited to give talks and recently became a trainer for a programme for people with disabilities. His example taught me that it is always possible to achieve great things if you believe in your strength and potential despite all the obstacles you may encounter.
In your opinion, why do you think you were conferred your scholarship?
Izza: I believe I had a clear idea of my passion and what my purpose was in applying for the scholarship. I had always wanted to pursue a career in healthcare so that I can help others and make a difference to peoples’ lives, and I thought that being awarded with the scholarship would be an excellent means for me to pursue this purpose. To this day, that purpose is still what makes me look forward to going to work every day.