Non-surgical cosmetic treatments have seen a huge surge in popularity recently. In fact, 76 percent of plastic surgeons reported increased demand for elective aesthetic procedures in 2021. In addition, fillers and neurotoxins were the two most popular procedures post-pandemic—with more people wanting to look “less tired.”

If you’re interested in working in this growing field, here’s an overview of a common job title in medical aesthetics, and the common educational pathways that can help you achieve this professional goal.

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What Is an Aesthetic Nurse?

Aesthetic nurses provide non-surgical, cosmetic procedures to enhance the appearance and confidence of their clients. They can administer neurotoxins like Botox, and perform other aesthetic medical procedures such as laser treatments and chemical peels.

While the skills required to be an aesthetic nurse are similar to those of a traditional nurse, there are nuances in aesthetics that require more education and practice.

For example, while all nurses understand how to inject medication or insert an IV, aesthetic nurses need to learn specific applications and requirements tailored to aesthetic procedures.

“Somebody may know how to do a subcutaneous injection or an intradermal injection,” says Sharon Higgins, dean of Young School of Nursing at Regis College. “But the way you would do it in aesthetics is different because of the areas you’re injecting and the techniques required to do it.”

For those interested in becoming an aesthetic nurse, there are a few educational pathways that can help you break into this new and exciting field. Here are the top four options currently on the market.

Four Educational Pathways for Aesthetic Nurses

1. Specialized Training Programs

One of the most common professional backgrounds for nurses in aesthetics is a registered nurse (RN). This traditional route requires completing an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

However, these programs don’t touch on aesthetic topics like:

  • Facial anatomy on a technical and artistic level
  • Pharmacology in aesthetics
  • Aesthetics complications
  • Patient communication regarding aesthetics procedures

“It’s more complex than you may think,” Higgins says. “Knowing how to elicit a history, conduct the appropriate physical exams, administer medications—all of those things are obviously very important as a nurse, but learning the specifics with regards to aesthetic treatments is something you can only get from specialized training.”

Therefore, one way to prepare yourself for a career in aesthetic nursing is by joining a specialized training program. After obtaining an RN license, nurses can enroll in specialized training programs focused on aesthetic procedures, such as the Aesthetic Immersion Certificate Program.

These programs offer courses on:

  • Neurotoxins injections
  • Dermal fillers
  • Laser treatments

To ensure you get the most out of these training programs, try to look for ones that include both theoretical knowledge and hands-on practice​​​​.

2. Certifications

Certification courses, like the one offered at Regis College, can provide an in-depth exploration of aesthetic nursing that focuses on key procedures and the latest techniques in the field. As a result, this educational pathway is an excellent option for nurses who are less confident in their abilities in aesthetics.

“They will be acting as if they were treating somebody in these courses,” Higgins adds. “They’re going to go through their history, consent, risks, benefits, and all the intake information required as part of the consultation. And they’re going to mark up the face and do the procedure. But the nice part is that they have an instructor right next to them.”

Some common certifications nurses can get to work in medical aesthetics:

  • Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist Certification: Offered by the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board, this certification is designed for RNs who are performing aesthetic procedures in collaboration with a physician.
  • Board Certified Aesthetic Nurse Injector Certification: This is awarded by the American Board of Aesthetic Medicine and focuses on non-surgical aesthetic procedures like injectables, chemical peels, and laser therapy.
  • Aesthetic Immersion Certificate: This certification program is tailored for healthcare professionals seeking to enhance their knowledge and skills in aesthetic medicine, covering topics like injectables, skin care, and the latest aesthetic technologies.

If you’re unsure what certificate program is right for you, there’s another type of educational pathway you should consider.

3. Hands-on Clinical Education

Hands-on clinical education in medical aesthetics is a fairly new concept. However, institutions like Regis College, are offering certificate programs with these experience opportunities.

This type of education in aesthetics is more comprehensive due to the fact that it covers a wide range of topics over the course of six to eight weeks instead of cramming a large amount of information into a single-day seminar. Considering the possible complications that can arise from these procedures, institutions like Regis College are creating more hands-on training to promote safety and consistency in the field.

“Our goal was to really create a program that gives everybody the tools that they would need to go out there and safely practice aesthetics medicine,” Higgins says. “So our program is almost like a one-stop shop.”

One of the most important differences between a typical certification in aesthetics and one that offers hands-on clinical education is students’ exposure to expert guidance.

“For neurotoxins, our nurses get a day and a half of hands-on exposure. We treat students’ first time with these procedures as ‘getting into the swing of things,’” Higgins continues. “The second is a little more independent, but we’re still there, making sure students are doing everything safely and appropriately. This supervision starts to step away as students get more experience.”

This kind of comprehensive training is hard to come by for a niche field such as aesthetic nursing, but it makes a significant difference in the competency and confidence levels of those with a certification.

4. Workshops

Participating in workshops is a common way for nurses to become qualified to practice aesthetic medicine. They are usually short demonstrations over the weekend that allow nurses to quickly enter the field.

These events typically include:

  • Live demonstrations
  • Practice sessions
  • Group discussions

Despite their popularity though, they often lack the in-depth curriculum and hands-on experience to feel confident in the field.

“The key is that practice makes perfect, and you really need to practice on a lot of models before injecting anyone independently,” Higgins explains. “So really this begs the question of whether nurses who are only able to do a few injection points or on a few individuals are really competent providers in medical aesthetics? I would say no.”

Start Your Aesthetics Career

Aesthetic nursing is undoubtedly a unique skill set garnering unprecedented interest from those who have an interest in the cross-section of beauty and medicine. However, choosing the right educational pathway is incredibly important.

For example, Regis College’s Aesthetic Immersion Certificate offers online classes combined with robust clinical training to immerse you in the region’s first collaborative aesthetic certification in the region. This dedicated education and training can help aspiring aesthetic nurses feel confident embarking on their new professional journey.

Aesthetic nursing requires as much hands-on practice as you can get. Learn more about Regis’s aesthetic nursing education program.

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