What did you want to be when you were at school/growing up?
I love animals and always wanted to be a vet, but I was told at school that I wasn’t smart enough to become one. I knew that I wanted to work in a role that included science or medicine, so I ended up having a bit of a round-about route into the podiatry career that I love today.
Can you describe your work/what you do in 1 sentence?
I diagnose, treat, teach and research foot health.
What 3 factors make you skip into work?
I love people! I love being able to help people, learn about people, work with different people, discover, and innovate as part of a team, and to help people to learn.
What frustrates you at work?
When an organisation’s infrastructure or systems unintentionally cause people harm or prevent them from accessing support or treatment. Sometimes it feels as though our systems have just become too complex to work properly and it can be hard to work out who is key to unlocking them. It is frustrating that some people have to go without foot care because it is not provided in their region.
Why would you recommend your career to a young person?
Podiatry is a career of variety. You can train and have a job for life. That is just the start though, there are so many different specialist areas so you can change focus as you develop your practice. I started off with an interest in podiatric sports medicine, then I moved into tissue viability and wound care, then rheumatology, before ending up in primary care. You can work for the NHS, in social care, in prisons, or as a private practitioner with huge earning potential.
What has been your biggest career disappointment or challenge and how did you overcome it?
My biggest disappointment was not getting a fellowship funding for a role that I had put so many months of work into. I got through to the interview, which was somehow worse as I felt I must have let myself down. After the initial disappointment, I could see how far I had come by just going through the application process – I learnt so much.
What was your best career move?
I did a research internship after I graduated, and I found the most amazing mentor in Professor Cathy Bowen also based at the University of Southampton. This transformed my career before it had even started. Later in my career, I left a well-paid clinical role to join a research team on a short-term contract. While less money, I knew that research/academic work was the direction I wanted my career to go in so I took the chance, and it paid off.
What qualities do you think you need to do your job well?
Good communication, good organisation and time management – and bravery to keep trying new things to see what works and what doesn’t.
What 3 words would your colleagues use to describe you?
Optimistic, organised, and busy!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever got from a patient or work colleague?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” it’s the big picture that matters in the end.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of career advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Don’t be too shy and communicate more; don’t be afraid to speak up, share ideas, ask for help, or just chat to people.
What do you do to relax/de-stress?
I enjoy spending time with my partner Ben and son Tom. I still love animals, so I also spend time at the stables with my horse.
What do you hope will be your legacy to your profession and colleagues?
I hope to have inspired some people, given others confidence to be awesome, and in the bigger picture, to have made access to good foot healthcare possible for more people.
Is the thought of retirement a dream or a nightmare – and why?
I can’t imagine my brain will stop coming up with ideas and questions, so I can’t imagine I will ever retire.
If you could be invisible for a day what would you do?
I’d have fun and play pranks on my partner Ben.
If you were given £1m what would you spend it on?
I would invest in training a foot health workforce. I would also invest in providing children’s school shoes for families who can’t afford them.
What do you usually wear to work?
Jeans and a top (usually a cardigan, even in hot weather), with some chunky Dr Martens boots.
Lindsey Cherry is associate professor of personalised care at the University of Southampton. She balances her research and teaching role as a senior clinical academic with a clinical leadership role in Central Southampton Primary Care Network.
After completing a BSc in Sport Science at the University of Chichester in 2002, she studied for a BSc in podiatry at the University of Brighton. After graduating in 2007, she completed a summer research internship with Versus Arthritis while awaiting her registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, and this cemented her ambition to work in academia.
Once her registration was approved, she took up her first clinical role at Lewisham Primary Care Trust in London, while working part-time at the University of Brighton as a clinical skills lecturer.
In 2009, she received an NIHR clinical doctoral research fellowship to complete a PhD at the University of Southampton, which she was awarded in 2012. That year an NIHR postdoctoral clinical fellowship enabled her to further progress her clinical academic career.
She has authored over 50 academic papers, several textbook chapters, contributed to various international research projects, chaired several national and international committees, and contributed to the education of many hundreds of healthcare professionals.