Dr Natasha Verma offers basic advice on starting a career in the aesthetics specialty.
Having qualified as a dental surgeon in 2009, I was exposed to numerous areas within this sub-speciality of medicine. I spent some time determining which field I was most passionate about, and as a result, aesthetic medicine was the pathway I chose. In this article, I provide some advice on the initial steps to take once you’ve decided you want a career in this exciting and fast-moving industry.
Choosing and selecting courses
There is such a large range of courses and it can be very difficult to decide where to start. Firstly, it is important to determine what you wish to gain upon completion of the course. If the objective of the course is educational then a Master’s degree may be more suitable than a vocational course, whereas if your objective is to improve clinical proficiency, then a shorter course within independent academies may be more practical. If a professional is embarking on the aesthetic journey, it may be more suitable to invest in courses that favour greater depth of knowledge providing the foundation for advanced learning.
Ensuring that the course abides by the latest guidelines of the Department of Health and is accredited1, will reassure you that the training meets the requirements, is of a good standard and will prepare you appropriately for what is expected of you clinically and professionally. If you have concerns regarding the credibility of a course, contacting your registration body is advised.
Each training academy will be considerably different in the courses they offer, their experience, their approach and their support. Recommendations from colleagues will be useful to determine the courses from the trainees’ perspective.
It is important to ensure you understand the fundamentals so initially seeking courses that detail skin analysis will build the foundation. Following this, treatment training courses will further your knowledge in the area in which you wish to specialise.2 Seeking a course that allows for hands-on training, such as ‘bring your own model’ courses will enhance your proficiency and confidence by completing treatments unsupervised. Post-training support from any institution is invaluable as it can take the form of a mentor; enabling you to discuss cases, learn from their experiences and seek advice when required. If there is a professional that can be a mentor on-site then they may also manage your patients in emergency situations if you are unavailable. The patients are your responsibility and arrangements like this will always be useful. Upon completion of a course you should have confidence in the procedure you have trained in but also able to determine contra-indications for this treatment, for example body dysmorphia and medical concerns. Dr Tristan Mehta covers this topic in greater detail in his article of the December 2016 issue of Aesthetics, I would urge you to read this as it provides a checklist to what you are pursuing.3
Setting up your own clinic
Development of your brand requires reflection upon what you want to provide and the type of services you wish to offer, following which, the appropriate training courses may be arranged. For some, it may be useful to employ a marketing specialist to ensure you are sending a clear message to your potential patients. Should you prefer to carry out the marketing yourself, please be aware that it is time-consuming and you will need to be aware of the methods of website developments, social media and also the criteria provided by the Advertising Standards Agency.4
The next important decisions to be made are your treatment menu and your target market,5 as these factors will determine the equipment required, and the size and location of the premises you need.6 In my opinion, considering a small treatment menu may allow you to concentrate on the quality of the services you provide and enable you to control your financial investment in stock and equipment. The menu can be expanded as you gradually determine your patient’s interests and requirements. To safeguard your investment and assess a location, it may be an option to let a room or to negotiate a position with an established business that may believe that their clientele has a demand within this field. However, should you wish to establish your own premises, this will invariably lead to the financial aspect of setting up a premise, for which I recommend professional services are enlisted.
The hard work commences once the clinic is set up and requires maintenance to continue to succeed. Patient retention is essential to ensure that you are working productively and efficiently.5,7 Schemes encourage the patient to return to your clinic for value-for-money offers, discounted treatments or products for rewarding loyalty and skincare ranges that you have recommended; ideally products that are not available on the high street, such that the patient is required to return to your clinic to purchase these products.8
Work balance (between NHS and aesthetics)
Aesthetic treatment is a private option and patients are aware of this, therefore are prepared to invest in themselves. NHS treatment is seen as a necessity and some patients feel there is a certain degree of entitlement.
To ensure that there are clear lines between the two sectors, I feel it may be more appropriate to carry out aesthetic treatments in a private environment. My reasoning is that the patient’s expectation of the treatment, experience, equipment and after-care differs; therefore meeting their expectation ensures that the patient feels the process was worthy of returning or recommendation. This can mean carrying out NHS work at a different time within the same venue or at an entirely different location9 to the aesthetic treatments that are supplementing your income.
Whilst providing a high quality of care for patients, many practitioners have found that they can gain job satisfaction, allowing for a better quality of life for themselves.9
When and if the time is right to go private full time
There is never a good time to make a change in careers particularly one in which there is no guaranteed initial income.10 Fear of the unknown and the hard work required can be very discouraging, however enough interest and passion within this field will overcome that. Being employed by another company, carrying out NHS treatment or having another means of income whilst making the transition may ease the anxiety and pressure of this movement.
The ‘right time’ will depend entirely on your situation and your goals, however ensuring that you have done sufficient research, have a good business plan and are financially aware of your requirements and support, you will be one step closer11 to starting your aesthetic journey.
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