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Digital photography course produces tangible benefits

As part of the Festival of Learning, the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (SCP) ran a digital photography course in conjunction with Lewisham College, for staff in October 2009. In every day clinical practice podiatrists are increasingly required to take digital photographs of different foot problems for inclusion in patient clinical records.

The photographs are mainly used for monitoring progress of a particular condition or treatment regime and can be called for evidence in ant complaint. Few podiatrists have has any formal training in digital photography and rely on their experience in taking holiday “snaps” to photograph clinical conditions, not always achieving the accuracy required.
The course was run on at site at the SCP offices in London with use of computers provided by the mobile learning centre and 10 embers of staff took advantage of the course. The course entailed

• Choosing a camera – understanding the different features
• Digital accessories
• Taking good photographs
• Composition of photographs
• Advance techniques – aperture, shutter speed, flash, camera adjustments, filters and lenses
• Touching up photographs
• Displaying photographs on line
• Useful software to create and edit photographs

Cameras have been used for a considerable time in specialist clinics, such as hospital diabetes clinics, where they are used to monitor the progress of ulcers among other things. In the past, hospital podiatry departments used to make use of medical illustration but it is very time consuming for the patient and for the podiatrist having to wait for the photographer to come to the department.
It is far more effective for the camera to be accessible at all times and more and more, cameras are being used in community podiatry clinics for a variety of work related purposes. Staff members became more aware of the potential of the cameras and how they could be utilised.

The rational for bidding for funding is that very few podiatrists have been trained in using cameras properly and they usually learn informally through taking holiday snap shots. By providing professional training, staff became aware of the full functionality of the camera and how to make use of the associated computer software.
The course was highly successful and added direct value to the work conducted by staff enabling them to

• document nail surgery progress
• Document wound healing in diabetic clinics
• Assist patients to see progression of their wounds and helped with educating patients
• Judge the progression of a wound from photo evidence rather than written documents,
• Present case studies for staff meetings, clinical supervision and for CPD purposes
• Lead to the discussion around the use of cameras in each separate clinic

Ulf Project Manager, Liz Salem said “Photographs can say more than written records and as clinical photography is becoming more and more a part of everyday podiatric practice, it is important that podiatrists know how to get the best out of the camera to ensure photographs stand up to scrutiny.”
 The course will be evaluated and areas of further learning and support will be identified. The Society and the Ulf team will consider providing additional, more advanced training and will encourage the development of a support network to share best practice.