Keith Montebello
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Keith Montebello

​​Keith Montebello.jpg

What is your name and what is your
official designation within the Ministry for Health?
My name is Keith Montebello and ​I am an Allied Health Professional – Podiatrist

Where do you work and what do your duties entail?
I am currently working within the Primary Healthcare setting. I deliver podiatric services at various Health Centers and Community Clinics around Malta.

As a podiatrist I work to prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate abnormal conditions of the feet and lower limbs. My job is also to prevent and correct deformity, keep people mobile and active, relieve pain and treat infections. 

How long have you been working with the Public Service?
I have been working with the public service for 3 years.

Are there any specific qualifications required for your post?
Yes, one has to obtain a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Podiatry which is recognised by the Maltese authoroties and be registered with the Council for the Professions Complementary to Medicine. 

What attracted you to take up your profession and to the health service?
What ultimately drew me towards the health sector is of course the patients themselves. My profession and personal traits go hand in hand as it enables me to meet new people, make new friends, network, share experiences and help people. The patient is always at the center of any care and advise given. 

Furthermore, the health sector in general brings with it great opportunities whether it is within the clinical setting or the managerial and administrative setting. Hence, the Podiatry course at University of Malta doesn’t only create new opportunities within the department itself but also enables me to venture in other departments such as the Ministry for Health, Public Health and more. 

What motivates you most?
I feel great satisfaction and motivation when patients express relief from pain and discomfort after treatment has been given.  Furthermore, great motivation is also achieved when I assess, treat and diagnose foot conditions or disorders in patients living with Diabetes Mellitus as this may result in saving the patients limb or even a life. Geriatric care is essential in my daily work as routine treatment enables the patient to carry out​ day to day activities without discomfort and reduce risks of falls or ulcerations. It enables the older adults to live an independent active life.

What about the teamwork between different professions/roles involved in relation to patient care?
Transdisciplinary teamwork is essential to provide the best care to the patients who we treat. As a Podiatrist, I work and collaborate with physiotherapists, doctors, orthopaedic consultants in diagnosis and treatment to provide optimal patient care through best practices. Several foot conditions, whether it is a wound, musculoskeletal or dermatological problems are addressed holistically through teamwork between various professionals to ultimately safeguard patients’ health and wellbeing. 

Can you give us one challenge and one success story?
Success
The case I will never forget is when a gentleman living with diabetes came to the clinic complaining of pain. When I examined him, I realized this was a severe case of dry gangrene. I called the doctor there and then. The gentleman was sent straight to hospital and was admitted. Although this did not save his limb it saved his life. If the patient had waited a couple of more days, he would have had septicemia and this could have cost him his life.

Challenge
As for challenges, I would say the biggest challenge in my line of work is bringing about and retaining behavioural change in patients, especially the elderly. Sometimes it is difficult convincing the public of the importance of healthy footcare practices which prevent complications. A simple but most common example is the use of proper footwear.

What advice would you give to young students considering taking up this profession?
The Podiatric degree at the University of Malta consists of 4 intensive years. Throughout these four years one takes up several interesting and innovative study units such as orthotic fabrication and prescription, biomechanics, surgery, Diabetic care, health psychology, pharmacology and several more. 

It is a very rewarding profession especially for people like me who are altruistic and have the patients’ health at heart. Podiatry is a profession which opens doors and which offers a number of career opportunities not just in clinical practice but also in research and innovation, in management and also in education. The diverse areas of practice are also exciting and one can be channeled to specialize in a number of areas paediatrics, geriatrics, orthotics, diabetic care and so on. 

The ultimate advise I can give to a young student taking up the course is to always keep in mind the phenomenon of patient centered care.  Providing care that is respectful of, and responsive to, individual patient preferences, needsand values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.

What are the benefits of working with the public service?
Indefinite benefits emanate by working within the public service, some which are important to me are:
​Great work-life balance/ flexibility.
The opportunity to development ones’ skills and knowledge.
The chance to be engaged within a network of healthcare professionals.
Prospects of career and professional progression.
Job Stability is of course another important factor.
The competitive salary and allowances is also a positive aspect.