Planning alternative paths while working for the NHS

The big question people ask when considering alternative career paths for doctors and nurses still working for the NHS is, “how do you divide your time between your NHS job, your new career, and family time?

To answer honestly, I have to say ‘with difficulty’. Of course it’s hard finding a balance but that’s true in many areas of life when you’re juggling childcare, study and work, and equally, it’s difficult to generalise from my own experience but there are some key elements that will help anybody considering a portfolio career.

As a matron in an NHS GP Practice I have worked in hospitals, the community, and primary care. Although there is always so much to learn, I began to feel stuck. 

NHS nursing can be tough

I work in a very deprived and challenging area and while I love the patients and community that surround our practice, I wanted to do something that was mine, for my career, and my family. So aesthetic medicine was my decision and it’s been the perfect choice. I love that it is constantly evolving, faster than the NHS, and is mine to take at any pace that I choose.

Trust me, if I had lots of money I would have done so much more training already! I want to be a master of my trade, not a Jack of many and I want to build my aesthetics career, but it’s important to do this safely and ethically. Currently, I cannot afford to move completely into aesthetics – but I plan to remain positive, work hard, and trust the process.

A major advantage is that I can fit my aesthetics business around my family and NHS job as much or as little as I want. I have at times felt quite overwhelmed by how well the aesthetics side is going and keep waiting for the dip, but obviously I hope this doesn’t happen. It is also lovely to do something different in health and aesthetics and I am confident that I have the art and science behind it.

No day is standard any more, and every day is different but that’s what I thrive on. What has allowed me to make a good transition to a dual career path? These are the points I think have allowed me to become successful so quickly:


Organisation and multi-tasking

For me organisation and multi-tasking are key components to having an effective dual path career.  I’m lucky that my husband and two children have been a great support system. In addition the management team in my NHS job have agreed I could reduce my hours to three days. This has enabled me to do two or three aesthetic clinics a week at  four salons around Colchester, Essex. Naturally my NHS colleagues have shown some interest – when we’re not too busy in the practice to chat!

I still love my NHS job as I feel it keeps me grounded. It’s really helped with planning my aesthetics clinics. As I want to be the best I can be for my clients and in order to manage my time well, I have decided to only aesthetics clinics on an evening where I am off work the next day. This allows a 24-36 hour period of availability for my clients, should there be any complications. Thus, this often means a day in the NHS followed by an evening of aesthetics and then a day off. As a result, I tend to do my private aesthetics practice on three evenings each week, and one day at the weekend.


Valuing free time

Surprisingly enough, as a result of planning  evening and Saturday work, I actually get more time with my young children than I did before.  It works well for us as a family because they are in bed before the evening clinics I offer and because I do fewer NHS days in the week, we have actually been able to reduce childcare. Recognising how to be flexible is crucial to making this work for you.

Drawing on personal strengths

I have spent 13 years building my NHS career and am now at a point where I have put so much in place that my role is generally maintenance. Of course we all know that the NHS changes daily but most healthcare professionals are very versatile so adapting comes naturally. It’s important to capitalise on personal strengths to create balanced career paths.


Accepting reality

There’s no doubt that many weeks are tough.  In one way I have been very fortunate; my aesthetics business was very busy from Day One, but that brings its own pressures. At most I have had a couple of quiet weeks to reflect since I started my aesthetics business.


Finding an aesthetics training provider who meets your needs

I started myLevel 7 in Aesthetic Medicine with Harley Academy on January 2017 and have not looked back. Right from the off I felt at home as the Academy and I shared a drive for world class patient safety within aesthetics and clinical development. It was because of this support and passion  that I knew my own business would be a success.

Dentist doctors learning aesthetic medicine

Enjoying the high points

I started my own business nine months ago and the experience has been great. It feels like a lot longer – but in a good way. It’s very rewarding work as most of the time you see instant results and boost clients’ confidence and therefore enhance their mood and mental health – which is a huge issue in society today.

Finally I cannot thank Harley Academy enough for my opportunities. Not only have I had the best possible training and teaching but also the work opportunities they have offered gave me complete confidence in my abilities. To  anyone considering a career in aesthetics, don’t think – just do it!


About the author:

Natalie Haswell


Natalie is an NHS Practice Matron, nurse prescriber, and a successful aesthetics practitioner. She has over 13 years of experience working as a nurse in the NHS and has undertaken several advanced nursing courses. Natalie commenced study of the Harley Academy Level 7 in Injectables for Aesthetic Medicine in 2017, and now runs her own thriving business, Haswell Aesthetics, across Essex, UK.


Follow her work on Facebook and Instagram.