Mr Amir Sadri debates whether practitioners should become specialists or generalists
The world of aesthetic medicine is constantly expanding and evolving. There are now a plethora of treatments available to our prospective patients. Alongside this sharp rise in cosmetic procedures, there has also been a noticeable rise in healthcare professionals becoming practitioners in the cosmetic field, practicing procedures outside of their core specialty. I have observed many examples recently, such as heart surgeons performing face lifts and dentists performing dermal filler injections. The medical requirements are met, but is this really the route we should be going down? Here I will debate the pros and cons of being a generalist or a specialist within the field of medical aesthetics and plastic surgery.
Being a generalist
When entering the aesthetic world, it’s likely that practitioners may not know what their main interest is. So, it is indeed useful to partake in training and gain knowledge of all treatments in order to find out what you really love and where your core skillsets lie. Having the correct training in multiple procedures and treatments also means that you can advise patients accordingly when they come to you with questions, or refer them to more apt medical professionals.
Keeping yourself broad in terms of treatment offering can also be more commercially viable – it’s understandable that you don’t want to lose a patient who comes through the door willing to pay for your services. If you only specialise in injectables, a patient who is after a chemical peel will go elsewhere and you will lose that income. In the plastic surgery sector of the aesthetics world, the financial benefits of performing multiple surgeries are even greater, due to the higher price points. Therefore, in both the invasive and non-invasive aesthetics sectors, being a generalist may initially seem more financially beneficial.
Being a specialist
Just being able to say ‘I can do this procedure’ doesn’t equal ‘I can do it well.’ Aesthetic practitioners and surgeons can often do multiple procedures and treatments competently, but if you look at the results of generalists compared to someone who has a singular specialty, the difference in results can be striking. Specialism can also lead to striving for, and attaining, perfection in your results. Those that have dedicated their lives to one specific treatment or procedure will have a higher understanding of the patient journey, aftercare and results. It can be argued that specialists also show greater focus and dedication to specific parts of the anatomy – that their specialism is a lifelong vocation and not simply a side interest to further commercial viability.
If you look at anyone who is a real leader within their field, they are usually specialists. Furthermore, specialism can also be beneficial to your marketing and public relations efforts. If, for example, you are able to garner the nickname as the ‘body contouring queen’, or ‘the go-to rhinoplasty surgeon’, prospective patients will be able to find you more easily, in addition to increased confidence in your work.
Similarly, if you publish new articles, techniques and do talks at aesthetic conferences on your specialism, aesthetic companies and brands will notice you. So, in the long run, this does also help the commercial side too.
Which approach is best?
In light of the above, in terms of non-invasive aesthetic treatments or ‘tweakments’ as they’ve been coined, generalism can be helpful early on in your career to further your knowledge and understand your true strengths. Once the latter has been attained, I believe it is then time to narrow down your offering and specialise – you can always employ others in your practice to fill the skill gaps so that you’d don’t lose out commercially.
In regards to more invasive procedures such as cosmetic surgery, I believe that specialism here is of the utmost importance. Invasive aesthetic procedures are much riskier, the patient journey is longer and the aftercare is more complicated and as such, full dedication and expertise in the procedure is paramount.
As healthcare professionals, our first duty of care is to the patient. So while you may see generalism as more financially beneficial, this should never be the main focus nor your main decision maker. The main focus should always be creating the best outcomes and results for your patients.
Of course, becoming a specialist takes time and it is not easy – it requires years of training, practice and dedication. Not only does it take time to become proficient at a procedure, but there also needs to be enough demand for that procedure by patients. However, in the long run, beautiful results and wonderful patient testimonials will lead to being an esteemed practitioner in your field.
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