Info for new graduates
Welcome! Ten tips for graduating podiatrists.
No tricks, no obligation to maintain your membership beyond that date, just something to help you get started. And it will save you a few hundred bucks!
Insurance House is one of the largest providers of Professional Indemnity cover for podiatrists in Australia and is backed by highly regarded underwriters. The free policy Insurance House offers exclusively to newly graduated APodA members will cover you in Australia as well as in most countries overseas.
You must have insurance in order practise podiatry in Australia. Find your state APodA here.
It's illegal to practise podiatry without registration.
Follow the five step registration process here.
3. Apply for a Medicare provider number/s.
A provider number is mandatory if any of your patients need to makes claim for podiatry services under Medicare's Chronic Disease Management Program, the Department of Veterans' Affairs funding, or subsidies from a private health insurer. Provider numbers are location-specific so you need one number for every location you practise in.
It takes around six weeks for your application to be processed which can be a problem for new podiatrists starting out within six weeks of graduation. Remember it's illegal to use someone else's provider number even once so don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Rather than waiting until you have a job, we'd recommend you submit your application as soon as you can using your home address (or a practice address if you have permission). Medicare will forgive you for using your provider number from the wrong location but using someone else's provider number is a surefire way to attract serious trouble.
4. Be wary of unscrupulous businesses.
There are some dodgy business owners out there. Recent private health insurance audits have found that more than anyone else, young podiatrists are getting caught up in unethical business practises engaged by business owners looking to abuse their provider number.
An especially concerning trend has been seen in shoe store operators wanting to subsidise or give away free running shoes by loading up the cost of orthotics. These employers seem to mostly target recent grads who may be a bit naive or unsure of what practises are legal.
If you think you’ve ended up in one of these less-than-scrupulous businesses, get out as fast as you can. Sadly, you’ll be on the hook for any item billed illegally on your provider number - even if you weren't aware of what was being done in your name.
Don't hesitate to contact the APodC or your APodA if you have any concerns about the professionalism at your workplace.
5. Consider signing up for a mentoring program.
Mentoring programs are now available through some APodAs. Mentoring is a great way to develop your knowledge and skills for working in practice. It helps you establish the confidence you need to employ your clinical skills within your professional environment.
A mentor is also a great person for you speak to in confidence if you are experiencing difficulty settling in to your new job or even if you're having trouble outside work.
6. Always read your contract before signing!
If you receive an employment contract you believe is unreasonable, don't hesitate to speak to the APodC, your APodA, or even a solicitor.
Watch out for:
- Unreasonable restrictions on future employment eg. clauses that prevent you from working elsewhere for a particular period of time.
- Contracts that hold you responsible for fraud costs. Don't sign a contract that makes you responsible for your employer's dodgy business practises. Regulators have the power to make you pay the money back so you won't avoid these penalties but your employer (who has probably made a fortune from this fraudulent activity) should not be able to wipe their hands of the issue. This relates to unscrupulous business owners.
- Contracts that are unclear about who is responsible for expenses such as: equipment, Continuing Professional Development (CPD), association fees, etc. The last thing you need is to be surprised with practice education or training coming out of your accrued annual leave.
- Employment contracts that describe you as a contractor when your work requirements or conditions mean you're really an employee. Sham arrangements set up to avoid employer obligations by calling employees contractors are not acceptable. For more info, click here.
- Employment contracts that stipulate that you have to pay your own superannuation. For more info, click here.
- Contracts that suggest you're not not entitled to long service leave if you fulfil the requirements.
7. Build professional networks.
Start engaging with your peers through your APodA. We've all heard the saying "It's not what you know, it's who you know" - networking is the best way to build your career.
8. Keep an eye on the jobs boards.
9. Get familiar with privacy law.
There are a number of privacy issues practitioners need to be aware of. Take a look at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website for health practitioners to be sure of the privacy rules surrounding photos taken on smart phones or patient info published on social media.
10. Thinking about opening your own practice or changing jobs?
You can be prevented from opening a practice near a competing business, within a reasonable area. There is a pretty long history of case law around what defines "reasonable" but it's generally accepted that it describes the geographical area that covers the bulk of the competing practice's current clients.
However, you can’t be prevented from taking another job at a competing practice.
That said, your patients do belong to the business you work for, not you. If you've taken a job at a competing practice and you start telling patients, you will almost certainly receive immediate termination and may even face formal charged. When leaving a job a one practice, in absolutely no circumstance can you at take the details of your patients with you (even their names). This amounts to theft of an asset that belongs to that business.
You may, however, advertise your new employer or practice in the local paper.
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