The Evolution of a Foot Care Nurse. Never Stop Learning!

by Sharon Horton, RPN

I became a foot care nurse by being in the wrong place at the right time!

The Ottawa Public Health Department (OPH) needed an RPN nurse to do home visit monitoring of their rural senior adult population. I jumped at the opportunity. I love seniors!

After accepting the position a "by the way" notification arrived that, I would also be doing foot care! Surprise!...Yikes! I knew nothing about doing foot care but was quickly reassured that a training orientation would be coming.

Back in 1986, sterilization of foot care nippers was running soapy hot water over the tools drying them and then wiping the nipper tips with an alcohol swab… that was it. Times have changed!

The years flew by, as I grew more confident doing foot care. Seven years later I became a stay-at-home mother to 4 children all born in under 5 years! A busy time! Once my youngest child was in school full time I returned to school 2-days a week. I knew then, that at 47 years of age, it was a now or never time to go back to school.

I took all 6 “foot care for nurses” courses at Algonquin College. I am the first to graduate with a certificate in nursing foot care. It was not easy! Never stop learning! You CAN do this TOO!

Here are a few suggestions to help you along your journey in nursing foot care:

  • Starting a business is very HARD WORK.Yes, you will have to put yourself out there. Tell everyone you know and meet what you do. Get the word out!
  • Find out what the foot care rate is in your area(connect with nurses through IBSIG) you do not want to be over nor under priced. You are worth it.
  • You are an educator.A foot in your lap is an ideal one-on-one teaching time opportunity. Your audience is going nowhere! Take advantage of this. Teach and they will listen and learn! Carry pamphlets from various organizations to hand out.
  • Carry business cards on you at all timeswith pushpins to put on free billboards. Your business card should look professional and needs to make you stand out. My 16-year old daughter designed mine. High school students are very knowledgeable and could be a good resource for you.
  • Have voicemail that can be verified during the day.Potential customers do not like to be kept waiting for an answer. Commit to retrieving voicemails during the day and respond.
  • Remember, people have call display.If you are responding from a phone at a client’s place or a facility, you may get people phoning direct to that number. Use *67 to block the number you are calling from and/or be clear in your voice message NOT to call the number that appears on call display, but to call your business number.
  • The office administrator in long-term care facilities and retirement residences is your best friend...remember this one!
  • Every person you meet is a potential customer.
  • Smile, look people in the eyes when you speak, know their names. Say thank you lots.
  • Respect everyone's time.We are all busy.
  • If you sense an uncomfortable feeling during a home visit.....LEAVE!
  • Park your car on the streetso that you are not blocked in. Tell someone where you are going.
  • Safety first.If the roads are not safe for driving please stay off them. Make your day a paper work day / education day. You are your own boss.
  • Eat lunch and drink lots of water.You time!
  • Carry a journal with you.Jot down problems, plans of action with timelines etc. You will be amazed at how efficient you will become at brainstorming and resolving issues by simply jotting things down DAILY. It only takes a few minutes from your day.
  • Network with other foot care nurses.IBSIG is there for YOU and you should be there for THEM. It can be lonely being on the road so plan to connect with other nurses regularly or it won't happen.
  • Expect it to take about 2 years for your amazing reputation to build and get noticed.Do not get discouraged… the journey to Independent Practice IS WORTH IT.
  • You are knowledgeable; you are a professional (dress for success), name tags should be worn please.People do read them. Be proud!
  • Time for you!Take time every day for YOU! A happy healthy nurse is a productive representative of the nursing profession.

I am proud and honoured to have had this opportunity to share my evolving journey in nursing foot care with you. Tag! It's your turn to share!