Matt Franken

Foot Matters Podiatry

I wasn’t always a Podiatrist. I travelled quite a bit when borders were free and easy; eventually, I returned to New Zealand to study, and I qualified as a Podiatrist in 2001 and have been practising Podiatry ever since. I have worked in Christchurch for 5 years, privately and publicly and then spent 2 years in a rural Australian hospital. Matthew and my wife and fellow Podiatrist Kate moved to Blenheim in 2007, taking over the established Wairau Podiatry and turning it into Blenheim Podiatry in April 2014. In 2020 we returned to Christchurch to set up Foot Matters Podiatry, mainly to give our two Boys a better and more rounded education. I love sport, competing in numerous running and cycling events in the past and still try and get out now and again. Because of this, I have a strong interest in biomechanics, orthotics, and nail surgery.
Kate and I have two great boys who keep us busy away from Podiatry and keep me very well grounded!

Why did you choose podiatry?

Like most people, I noticed Podiatry through a sports injury that was successfully treated with orthotics, Then a decade later, meeting another podiatrist while living in Norway. I liked the thought of the diversity and ability to be involved with sports still. However, if I had not had a personal experience, I may never known what Podiatry was. I would imagine we all started in a similar way and this shows the importance for us all to stand tall, be proud and promote Podiatry.

Q. What years did you both train?
A. Kate and I trained at CIT in Wellington, graduating in 2001. Yes we met when studying. Kate was the top student in our year, and I will never live that down.
Q. What is the most common condition you treat?
A. I love the diversity Podiatry allows us, running a general podiatry practice but also working for the West Coast District Health Board in the high-risk foot field means I see almost everything, so this is hard to say.
Q. What has been the most unusual condition you have seen?
A. Dealing with people constantly reminds me there is no normal!
Q. What is your favourite treatment that gets the best result?
A. I love the difference good orthotic treatment can have for a client, but to be honest, the relief a PNA procedure can provide a client would probably give me the most satisfaction.
Q. What course would you most like to do, to further your skills?
A. I am always wanting to upskill, but the diversity of Podiatry can make this challenging just because there are so many options and expenses. I would say a more clinically based orthotic treatment and fabrication course would be something I would personally like to do.
Q. What advice would you give your newly qualified self?
A. Be yourself, listen and learn. It takes time to really develop, so take your time. Surround yourself with good mentors and ask questions. It can be lonely out there, so please talk to your classmates, colleagues, employers and PodiatryNZ.
Q. What would people be surprised to know about you?
A. I’ve worked on Coronation Street
Q. What can a new podiatrist do to get supported by the profession?
A. Join the member organisation PodiatryNZ. They have the people to help and support you, mentors and access to CPD courses.
Q. Which one of you takes the trickiest cases?
A. Usually me, but Kate is my number 1 sounding board.
Q. Which one handles the admin?
A. Only one person in this competition, Kate. I can hardly turn a computer on!
Q. What do you most admire in each other?
A. Kate is one of the smartest people I have met, and her support for me (which can be challenging) along with our two boys fills me with admiration for Kate.
Q. How long have you been on the board of PodiatryNZ, Matt?
A. How long as Chairman? I have now been on the PodiatryNZ board for 5 years and for the last 18 months as Chair.
Q. What has been the most challenging aspect of being the Chairman?
A. Covid certainly put a spanner in the works for anything I wanted to achieve. However, it also gave us an opportunity to bring the profession together through courses and Zoom meetings. I truly feel the profession has actually came through stronger for the experience, and this was shown by our biggest ever conference last year in Rotorua.
Q. What has been the most satisfying part of being Chairman?
A. It's been good for me. I have learnt to look at “the big picture” I have grown as a person and a Podiatrist from my time on the board. I came on at a time in my career when I was getting restless, I needed a new challenge, and the board has done just that for me. I would recommend people think about giving back a bit to there profession through board involvement.