Podiatrist/Dance Podiatrist, SportsMed, Christchurch
Director, Barrina Ltd – Custom Pointe Shoe Fitting and Education
Bachelor of Health Science (Podiatry)
It’s hard to name her favourite part of the job, says AUT podiatry alumna Georgina Barr.
“I enjoy many aspects of my job. The best part is when a patient arrives at the appointment in pain and leaves pain free. SportsMed is my first place of employment since graduating from AUT, and it’s a truly multidisciplinary clinic. Being able to work together with other health professionals is of great benefit to the patient.”
Georgina’s job involves general, sports, diabetic and arthritic podiatry care, as well as stock control, autoclave management and looking after the practice’s podiatry social media activities. She values the opportunity to be part of an industry that makes a significant difference in people’s lives. The ability to help alleviate lower limb pain and rehabilitate clients is pivotal, she says.
Georgina covers all aspects of podiatry, and was excited about the recent opportunity to be part of the South Island team of podiatrists assisting the West Coast DHB with diabetic healthcare. She also now works out of the Lincoln clinic one day a week and enjoys working with the Lincoln University sports department to help rehabilitate their student athletes.
Making a difference to dancers’ lives
As part of the SportsMed team focusing on sports care and rehabilitation, Georgina has developed her own niche within this. Having danced as a child, she knows all too well what impact lower limb pain can have and she loves using her podiatry skills to support other dancers.
“I decided to focus on podiatry services for dancers because I danced when I was younger and suffered from a poorly managed injury that forced me to stop dancing. I want to protect young dancers from that same fate, and I create individualised rehabilitation plans for every dance patient I see. I’ve also designed assessments to make sure that the dancers are ready to begin pointe work.
“I’m an affiliated committee member of the Christchurch Ballet Society and a member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, and the Royal Academy of Dance. I attend most of the Christchurch dance school productions, and educate dance schools on the care of lower limbs. I also work with dance shoe supply shops around the country to help dancers find the best shoes for their feet.”
Georgina has also created her own company, Barrina Ltd, where she utilises the internationally recognised Juon Pointe systems to provide a custom pointe shoe fitting service to dancers.
“Being able to progress to pointe work safely is the ultimate aim and educating each dancer on how they can look after themselves en pointe is a big part of that. Plus, it is wonderful to help someone into their first pair of pointe shoes as it is a big deal for any young ballet dancer.”
Finding her passion
When Georgina first came to AUT, she was certain that nursing would be her future career, however that plan soon changed.
“I came to AUT to study the Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing), but when I found out about the podiatry degree I started to look into it and thought that would be a great way to help people in a very specific way. I liked the idea of specialising in a specific area of health.”
She loved the amount of practical experience and industry contact the degree included.
“In my first year, I got to observe Nick Haley of Feet in Motion, which was a great way to learn about patient management and clinical procedures. In my final year of study I had a placement at PodiatryMed where I learned a lot about patient management, time management, sterilisation of instruments and clinical procedures.
“Another highlight for me was receiving the Arthritis New Zealand Summer Scholarship at the end of my second year at AUT. This was great because it taught me about the research process and patients’ views on footwear concerns. I was also lucky to have the opportunity to present this research at the Australian Podiatry Conference on the Gold Coast in 2015.”
“Georgina is one of our excellent podiatrists and has made a huge difference to our practice in terms of those patients in particular who are dancers, in all forms of dance, from tango through to hip-hop through to ballet and acting and theatre students. There is also a clear need for podiatry for gymnasts. Georgina has added significant value since she joined our team here with her experience and excellence in assessing those who are constantly on their feet in terms of either their recreation or in the case of some ballet dancers, their career. She is now recognised throughout New Zealand for her dance podiatry expertise and is involved with the New Zealand Ballet and is also a member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science. Georgina has now almost made herself indispensable to our practice and she is a credit to all of those who have been involved in her training and professional development.”
Dr Rob Campbell, Sports and Exercise Physician, SportsMed, Christchurch