Aesthetic nurse prescriber Alice Danker describes her journey from midwifery to medical aesthetics and the importance of not working in isolation
“I think aesthetics is about giving people time to open up before you even consider treatment”
There are not many areas of nursing that aesthetic nurse prescriber Alice Danker has left untouched. From midwifery and working in a neonatal unit, to running a residential home for the elderly, Danker has worked in many specialties before finding her ideal career in aesthetics. “I came from Malaysia in 1976 aged 20 and studied nursing in King’s Lynn, East Anglia,” explains Danker. “I then worked in a few areas of nursing before setting up a residential home in Harrogate in 1987. I did that for 12 years, but one morning I felt so burnt out I thought ‘I can’t do this anymore’.”
Danker always had a passion for beauty and in 1999 she decided to close her business and undertake a level 2 and 3 qualification in beauty therapy. She explains, “Nurses weren’t really doing aesthetics then, so the next best thing was beauty therapy.”
In 2003, when Danker saw a medical practitioner injecting dermal fillers in an exhibition area of a convention, she was intrigued, saying, “At first I thought ‘I can’t do that to people!’ It took me two years to pluck up the courage to train.” In 2005, Danker trained with Q-Med (now Galderma) in dermal filler injections and it was the beginning of her career in aesthetics. “I really enjoyed it. I’m very artistic and for me, it wasn’t just about picking up a needle, it was being able to make someone feel whole again and refreshed.” Danker made it a priority to get the relevant training every time a new product came on to the market, saying, “I would get training every few months; once you’ve had your initial basic training, it’s really up to you to improve and get better.”
“The BACN are the champions for nurses in aesthetics. Without the BACN I don’t think nurses would be as recognised as much as they are”
Having already opened a beauty business after closing down her residential home, Danker started to include aesthetic treatments to Vanity Beauty and Aesthetics clinic in Harrogate and since then, she has ensured she remains educated in order to keep practising, “It is so important to remain educated. If you don’t want to learn anything anymore then I think it is time to stop, because there are always new developments,” she explains, adding, “It is also about being safe. It is not just about picking up a needle and sticking it into somebody, it is such an art.”
Danker’s commitment to education and excellence led her to become a member of the British Association of Cosmetic Nurses (BACN) and in 2012 she became the regional lead for Yorkshire and Humberside. “I really enjoy it,” says Danker. “The BACN are the champions for nurses in aesthetics. Without the BACN I don’t think nurses would be as recognised as much as they are.” As well as organising regional meetings, Danker has set up a local group where she and others can support each other. “There is no need to be a lone practitioner anymore, it is not safe to work in isolation,” Danker explains. “There are about 15 to 18 of us in Leeds and Harrogate and we are very close and can phone one another at any time. Then there are a few of us that will actually meet up and do treatments to watch and learn. Whenever we learn something new, we will get together and practise until we are satisfied with the results we can achieve and are confident enough,” she adds.
Learning in this manner is one way that Danker ensures that she is always practising safely, which she feels is the most important thing to be aware of as a practitioner today, “It is so important to be safe. If you’re not sure on a product or procedure then don’t do it! You need to make sure you are properly trained first.”
Despite the hours of dedication to learning and training, Danker finds the specialty extremely enjoyable. “I enjoy it so much that it never feels challenging,” she explains, “I truly enjoy making people feel good. I recently asked a patient what she found most memorable about me and she replied, ‘you always make me feel good!’ and that was lovely.”
Danker concludes, “Sometimes patients come to me in tears and need a chat; people go through all sorts of personal problems and it is so nice, within the four walls, to hug them and listen to them. I think aesthetics is about giving people time to open up before you even consider treatment.”
I enjoy doing all the treatments that I offer and tailoring them to suit individual patients’ concerns.
If I feel I wouldn’t have that treatment myself then I am not going to sell and promote it to my patients. If I have gone through the experience, then I can explain to my patients what it is like afterwards and what side effects to look out for.
I wish I could have started earlier!
When you’re starting a business do it slowly, and don’t buy expensive equipment straight away.
Making people feel so much better in themselves. When patients are smiling when they look in the mirror and say ’wow’, there is nothing better than that!