How to move out of the NHS and into medical aesthetics
Recently, Dr Tim Pearce welcomed his apprentice winner, Nurse Charlotte to a podcast to discuss her story and journey into medical aesthetics as a nurse working in the NHS.
In this blog, we share the key points from their conversation and Dr Tim answers the questions posed by Charlotte as she embarks on her new career, which may be relevant to other medical practitioners just starting out in this specialty.
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Describe your journey into medical aesthetics
Dr Tim asked Nurse Charlotte to tell him about her journey into medical aesthetics. She qualified as a nurse approximately a year ago and chose to start training in medical aesthetics at SkinViva Training Academy in December 2022, starting with the foundation botulinum toxin and dermal filler training and moving on to undertake the lip and cheek enhancement course.
Charlotte noted that four months in, she is still finding her feet as a new aesthetic practitioner, and although she has performed multiple treatments with botulinum toxin, she has yet to carry out many with dermal fillers.
Dr Tim asked if studying and moving into medical aesthetics was always part of Charlotte’s plan when she was becoming a nurse. Charlotte replied that during her second year of nursing, she realised that working in a hospital environment would not be fulfilling for her, thus she looked around for other options. Having been on the receiving end of aesthetic treatments herself, as a patient, in the past, she knew that she would love to explore this specialty as a practitioner. With nothing to stop her broadening her nursing career and against a backdrop of struggling with the rigours of the current NHS environment, she chose to pursue her new passion.
Did your NHS colleagues have a negative view of your move into medical aesthetics?
Curious to know how her colleagues reacted to her choice to embark on a career in medical aesthetics and potentially leave the NHS behind, Dr Tim asked Charlotte if she experienced negativity at work.
The primary response was shock, noted Charlotte, with many colleagues expressing that being so young it would be a significant jump into what is perceived as a difficult sector to get into, especially to succeed, and one which is somewhat saturated with practitioners. Despite this, Charlotte said most of her colleagues in the NHS were supportive of her decision to move into training in medical aesthetics.
How do you build a medical aesthetic business?
Nurse Charlotte went on to explain that she was excited and had high expectations as she embarked on soaking up the knowledge and getting started, but soon realised that she had to slow down, learning to work before you can run when studying a new discipline.
Dr Tim concurred that a long-term approach to learning and slowly and steadily building the aesthetic business leads to better outcomes for success. He explained that the evolution of his own medical aesthetic clinic was a slow and steady journey, with little turnover in his first year as he built up skills and patient numbers. There was no moment where it suddenly ‘took off’, with an influx of patients, it simply grew a little bit more every month, gradually over a long period of time, until eventually he was busier and more exhausted that he desired and had to think about the next stage of growth.
An approach of building your aesthetic practice gradually and incrementally for long-term prosperity and patient loyalty puts you, as the business owner, in a better position, said Dr Tim. You can choose the thing you really want from the business. At the start, your desire is usually to earn a bit more money and you want to be busy, but what you should try and do is plan how you want your life to look in five years’ time. Ask yourself what you want – this could be a premises goal, a lifestyle goal, a reputational goal – because this will aid you in establishing a long-term strategy to build your business and achieve your goals, more so than a goal to get more patients and more money.
Dr Tim asked Nurse Charlotte is she has thought about her five-year plan. Although undecided, she suspects that she will always still work a little within the NHS because she feels a sense of duty, that she owes it to the NHS to still be a part of the service. However, she would love to ultimately dedicate more time to medical aesthetics. Currently working full-time as a general practice nurse, she carries out medical aesthetic treatments during her evenings, which means she works long hours, like many other new aesthetic injectors in her situation. Renting a space in a local salon, she dreams of owning her own clinic, her own premises, with her name on a sign out front, and this becoming her full-time role, growing the clinic to incorporate other staff and medical colleagues. Another goal is to achieve a prescribing qualification to become a nurse independent prescriber. Her ultimate dream is to build a mini empire in her village where everyone goes to her clinic for their medical aesthetic treatments.
How to make working in the NHS and medical aesthetics work for you
Nurse Charlotte’s sense of autonomy resonated with Dr Tim as he explained it was a significant driver for him when pursing a career in medical aesthetics.
Being frustrated with redoing rotas months in advance to secure holiday periods when working as an NHS GP, and being told by government departments that general practitioners must work on Saturday mornings became distasteful and did not fit in with the life he wanted to live. Now, he can bring the NHS into his working pattern as an aesthetic business owner so that it works for him, being able to pick and choose his input, rather than being fixed by set clinic hours.
Charlotte noted that she hopes to start a family in the future and worries that without moving into medical aesthetics and being her own boss, she would miss many opportunities to fulfil her parental role to attend events for her children if she stayed within the NHS full-time.
Dr Tim agreed that this was very important for him, stating that his main role in life is being a father and his business now fits around that.
Concluding their discussion, Dr Tim said that he always encourages aesthetic injectors to spend some time meditating on what they want their life to be, how they want it to look, and then to make business decisions that produce that life for them. This is preferable to giving up all your values and enjoyment of life in the pursuit of more and more patients. You might be financially well off, but you could find yourself time poor, exhausted, travelling too much and missing out on the life you want to create; having a clear vision will help you to plan. The more connected you can be with what you want in the future, the more you will strive to get it, seeing what is relevant to achieving the goal.
Read more of Dr Tim and Nurse Charlottes’ conversations, including:
- Making clinical and ethical decisions as an aesthetic injector
- Leaving the NHS to go into aesthetics: dealing with judgement and guilt
Is your worst nightmare causing a VO?
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