What did you want to be when you were growing up?
An actress and singer – up to the age of 9.
What changed your mind?
When I was 18 years old, I observed my first podiatric surgeon in theatre, which affirmed my goal to become a podiatrist with a long-term ambition of doing podiatric surgery.
Can you describe your work/what you do in 1 sentence?
I assess, diagnose, and manage foot problems and surgically treat foot pathology. This includes the high-risk foot, where there can be a risk to the leg or the person.
What do you usually wear to work?
Scrubs in theatre, smart dress or a two piece for admin, clinic, meetings, or presentations. Plus, comfies and fluffy socks to work from home in!
What 3 factors make you skip into work?
1. Team – working with a supportive and inspiring team that encourages and motivates you and makes the working environment a positive and happy one.
2. Making a difference – seeing postoperative elective surgery patients maximise their mobility and improve their quality of life also puts a spring in your step on the way out of work!
3. The great unknown – I believe that developing a portfolio career allows many doors to open. I often say I don’t exactly know where I’m going but I am on my way, and I am loving the journey so far! The unknown end point that developing a portfolio career brings is very exciting.
What qualities do you think you need to do your job well?
For surgery, you need hand-eye coordination, muscle memory and spatial awareness, which I think are all transferable skills from being a podiatrist; good organisational skills and time management to balance training alongside the daily working role; problem solving and communication skills are also much utilised qualities.
What frustrates you at work?
A lack of understanding about my role and the extent of training I’ve undertaken to reach my current position. I have a degree in podiatric medicine, a surgical fellowship award, extensive post graduate academic achievements and, to date, 12 years of practical surgical training, so my scope of practice is much wider than is often perceived. I am competent in all aspects of foot surgery and overseeing the management of the high-risk foot.
I am sure that this perception of podiatry and podiatric surgery will improve with time but, until then, I will continue to indulge in the occasional educational discussion to promote our role.
Is there any work that you particularly enjoy?
A large amount of our caseload is management of the high-risk foot, limb salvage and preservation with complex patients with many co-morbidities who are usually acutely unwell.
The job satisfaction of supporting those patients from a critical stage in their life to rehabilitation and discharge is hugely satisfying.
What is your immediate career goal?
To complete my surgical training (CCPST) in the next two years and to continue with surgery, hopefully in a consultant role and in the high-risk foot (work that I love).
Would you recommend your career to a young person?
Absolutely yes! Podiatry is a diverse and varied career with multiple career opportunities in so many areas and has the potential to keep you interested and stimulated.
You can specialise in clinical areas such as diabetes, rheumatology, sports injuries and MSK, dermatology, paediatrics and frailty are some clinical specialities.
There is the potential to become a podiatric surgeon, progress into advanced clinical practice or a first contact role within primary care, which can pave the way to consultant level practice and leadership roles.
Independent practice is very popular within podiatry and is an option for flexible, self-employed practice or owning your own business.
Podiatry is well paid, and you have opportunities for hybrid working and a portfolio career, offering a good work-life balance.
What has been your biggest career challenge and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been working away from home and my family for part of the week. With their support and our determination to make it work, we have overcome it, and we now have a great routine and have achieved a good balance of work and family life.
What was your best career move?
My registrar role in Swindon, Wiltshire. Despite being away from my family part of the week, the skillset, exposure, experience, and scope has enabled me to grow and really developed my portfolio.
It also offered me the opportunity to build on my leadership, education, and research portfolios alongside my surgical role.
What 3 words would your colleagues use to describe you?
I am known for being very organised, loyal and supportive (according to my work colleagues). But my favourite description is ‘a ray of sunshine’!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever got from a patient or work colleague?
Spread your wings and fly!
If you could go back in time and give one piece of career advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Work hard but not at the expense of yourself.
What do you do to de-stress?
I walk my gorgeous sausage dogs, Hugo and Hermione, and I spend time with my children and husband. I head to the sea and to the mountains to ground myself. I swim and go to the gym but would love to recapture my zen and recommence yoga again.
What do you hope your legacy to your profession and colleagues will be?
I would like to be remembered for contributing to research and evidence in amputation prevention, the role of podiatric surgery in limb salvage and the evidence bases behind procedure choice and personalised care in surgery.
I would love to support the growth of podiatric surgery in the UK and am a keen advocate for encouraging and supporting the rising number of women in this area of our profession.
Is the thought of retirement a dream or a nightmare – and why?
A dream – but I don’t think I will ever retire fully. I would like to retire to a holiday home on a beach and continue contributing to the profession from under my sun hat, on my beach blanket – maybe after the tree pose and downward dog!
If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
If I was invisible for the day and could go anywhere, I would enter Area 51 to see if UFO and alien evidence is really hidden there!
If you were given £1m, what would you spend it on?
Aside from my retirement home in the sun (ha!) I would like to support missionary/ charitable organisations in third world countries to support limb salvage and limb preservation work. This has always been an ambition of mine when my children are independent.
Andrea Gledhill is a special registrar in podiatric surgery at the Great Western Hospital.
After graduating in podiatric medicine at the University of Huddersfield in 2004, she obtained her licence to practise from the Health and Care Professions Council and began working in clinical practice. Her early career practice was spent mainly in musculoskeletal care.
After having children in 2008 and 2010, she worked in clinical practice part time and rotated around surgical units while undertaking an MSc in the theory of podiatric surgery in 2011, again at The University of Huddersfield. She then took up an employed training post at Locala Community Partnerships CIC in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, a social enterprise community provider, where she achieved her surgical fellowship (FRCPodS) in 2019 after successfully completing a series of theoretical and practical exams. A year later she completed her Independent Prescribing and Annotation, a key milestone in podiatric surgery.
In 2021 she began a specialist registrar post working under Mr. Ben Yates and Mr. Matthew Cichero, both consultant podiatric surgeons at Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust, Swindon, where she is currently working towards her Completion Certificate in Podiatric Surgery Training, which will complete her official surgical training path and enable her to apply for consultant level posts in the NHS.
During her career, she has built a portfolio career spanning research, education and leadership, as well as clinical practice. Her portfolio of elective surgical management of the foot including the rearfoot, the management of the high-risk foot, limb salvage and limb preservation surgery and she has an on-call presence in the daily management of acute admissions and limb threatening presentations within the trust.
In 2022 she took up a part time role as a project officer for Health Education England on behalf of the Royal College of Podiatry where she has led on two national workforce, education and reform projects.