The challenges of working in the community for a student of Nigerian parentage

Black History Month
Semiat Obitayo, fourth-year podiatry student at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, writes of the challenges she faces working as a black woman

Hi, my name is Semiat Obitayo, I’m 21 and I am a fourth-year podiatry student at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, but my parents were born and raised in Abuja, Nigeria.

I’m always asked “Semiat, why did you choose to study podiatry?”. Truth be told I actually applied for physiotherapy. Prior to applying for physio I had never heard of a career in podiatry, but  I am really glad I chose to study podiatry as I am enjoying the course.

Moving from Dublin to Edinburgh was such a culture shock, as Dublin is more of a melting pot in comparison to Edinburgh. One of the most common experiences I have as a black woman is people not remembering my name, or mispronouncing it, or not using my name because they deem it too difficult to pronounce. These experiences make me quite angry: when I’m treating patients I always try to say their names properly, so it is upsetting when people don’t do the same for me.

In the third year of my course I really enjoyed wound care specifically related to diabetic patients. I learned about diabetic foot ulcers during COVID-19, but it was only during placement that I valued the important role the podiatrist plays in treating diabetic foot disorders. When I graduate I hope to continue working in this field.