Why You Should Add A Medical Nail Technician To Your Practice­­

Robert Spalding, DPM

   I believe the podiatry field is in a crisis. With the aging of the baby boomers, we have seen an explosion of patients with diabetes and non-invasive foot care into our offices. At the same time, co-pays are rising steadily while reimbursement decreases bit by bit, and insurance companies are refusing more claims. The results are higher workloads but lower income and profit in our practices. Unfortunately, this duality results in a rise in practice failures. What can we do to solve this dilemma?

   To stop these trends from overwhelming us, we must look at what other medical specialties are doing to reduce their non-invasive workloads while enhancing their profits. We should look at what dermatologists and plastic surgeons are doing with the use of practice extenders in their practices. While this business model is new to these practitioners, it appears to be working smoothly, is very profitable and facilitates the addition of new patients on a regular basis without any extra effort on the part of the physicians.

   Dermatologists and plastic surgeons are hiring licensed aestheticians to perform patient preparation, patient education, non-invasive care, facials and post-treatment follow-up. Then the aesthetician makes the patients’ appointments for regular aesthetic care, bringing them back into the practice on a regular basis to “maintain their skin.” Such maintenance includes injections and peels.

   As a result, these patients do not go elsewhere for future treatment care because they are familiar with the practice and the monthly visit for routine skin care is ingrained into their lifestyle. This routine care has the patients considering the practice as the place they will always go for services.

A Closer Look At Medical Nail Technicians

   This business model also works in podiatry offices. About 10 years ago, I began working with medical nail technicians (MNTs) who were interested in raising their standards of infection control. I taught classes, gave speeches at conventions and allowed them to come into my office to observe.

   In doing so, I learned a few things. These licensed nail technicians have superior dexterity, are already familiar with the feet so one can easily train them to work in podiatry offices, and the patients love them. When trained properly and under direct supervision, licensed nail technicians can debride a nail and perform callus reduction better than anyone else, even podiatrists. Meanwhile, we are off somewhere else performing more services and making more money.

   The medical nail technicians are not just cosmetically trained. They are already licensed as nail technicians, eager to work in our offices and have taken advanced training to prepare them for this work.

   Graduating MNTs have taken an advanced course (10 modules) online (see http://www.medinail.com) that is designed to train them in: proper aseptic care (including the use of an autoclave); diseases and disorders of the feet; working with at-risk patients; and much more. Students must pass an exam. Graduates subsequently take part in a five-day internship in a participating podiatry office to be trained in the practical aspects of the information they learned during the course. After completing the internship, they receive the MNT certificate and are ready to go to work in a podiatry office.

   The people interested in taking this course are caregiver-type nail technicians. Most are highly experienced in performing pedicures and prefer performing these services over all others in their field. They also are highly motivated toward working in a medical setting and have found it very rewarding to take the advanced training toward reaching this goal.

How To Incorporate MNTs Into Practice

   There are several scenarios for the utilization of MNTs who work in podiatry offices and each is according to the practice and the personality of the podiatrist. Some are listed below.


I have been a nail tech for 20 years and have seen much change over the years in the field. I do believe with the boomers moving through that this is the next trend for the manicurist. Regularly I have clients that cannot afford the cost of podiatry services thus using my abilities. I do believe that these should be performed in a more clinical atmosphere.
The problem is there are only a limited amount of advanced/medical nail technology courses available and there are limited career opportunities at this time. Should anyone know of a podiatrist looking for a licensed manicurist please let me know. As this is the route in which I would like to take.

misterscruff's picture

Medical Nail Technician - this position was unheard of until just recently. The expertise of a licensed manicurist can be invaluable to any podiatrist who is looking for specific skills that may otherwise cannot learn through school. Because of this fact, specialized medical assistant programs are now becoming more popular.

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