I recently had a chat with a lovely young student nurse who wanted to discuss getting into Aesthetic Nursing. Honestly, it’s not unusual for me to get asked about this from clients who are qualified nurses too! I do try to help with advice wherever I can, as I think spreading the word about good practice will, in the long run, mean safer practitioners and happier clients. So I thought in this month’s blog I would provide a little guidance on how to get into the role, for anyone interested.

First things first

My first piece of advice is probably quite obvious – train to be a nurse. Once you qualify, get to work in a setting of your choice (other than something specialist such as aesthetics). Work with patients, colleagues, the multi-disciplinary team. Work days, work nights, work bank holidays, and most importantly get plenty of hands-on experience to polish not only your clinical skills, but also to relish working with the general public in as many situations as possible. These experiences will be invaluable in aesthetics as understanding and managing patient expectations are such a big part of your treatments.

The Independent Nurse Prescriber Qualification will make life much easier for you. Ultimately the patient journey is much smoother from consultation through to treatment review if you are able to be the one present at each of these steps.

Start with the basics

The next step is to learn the basics. There are many companies out there offering training courses and I am sure it must feel like a minefield when it comes to choosing! I would speak to experienced nurses and get their advice – speak to enough and you’ll see the same well-respected names coming up again and again.

Let me make this part clear: You should only be trained by medical professionals with a teaching qualification. I would join the BACN (British Association of Cosmetic Nurses). They offer really valuable mentorship programs and advice regarding training, together with peer support, a national annual conference, and regional meetings.

Do not have the mistaken belief that a half day or full day course in injectable treatments will make you competent! These are simply introductions to aesthetics. The learning begins when you start injecting independently. Remember the first time you were left in charge of a ward? I remember looking over my shoulder for reassurance only to realise I was truly on my own… your first time venturing into aesthetics feels the same!

Further training

One other course that, in my opinion, should be compulsory before injecting alone, is how to manage complications. You must know how to recognise symptoms of complications and how to deal with them. If not, you are leaving your patients open to a whole host of dangerous situations. However well you are trained, there will always be some risk involved, and it’s far better to know how to handle things calmly and professionally should the worst occur.

Once these basics have been achieved, hands on experience will help build your confidence. Don’t try to run before you can walk… work within your sphere of competence and when you feel able to step out of your comfort zone, book on another course before doing so. Expect to pay for many courses if you want to be a safe and effective injector and to repeat some courses annually to keep up to date!

Your support network

Finally, network with local colleagues. Support each other. The very nature of healthcare means you will always come across new situations you don’t have the answer to and will need help and advice. Of course, this goes both ways, and you should be ready to support another practitioner should they reach out for help. I also think this encourages an atmosphere of openness and transparency in the industry, which is better for everyone.

Finally, good luck!

As I often say to clients, if these treatments were easy and risk-free we could all just watch a YouTube video and inject ourselves! There’s a lot of training, studying, and dedication that goes into becoming a (good!) Aesthetic Nurse, but trust me when I say the rewards outweigh the hard work. I love what I do, and you may even get to relish all the training and learning, simply because it will continue to improve your skills as a practitioner (but I can only speak for myself there!).

I wish all nurses venturing into this speciality the best of luck!

Until next time,

Wendy