Before signing up, many newcomers to cosmetic medicine want to know about treating patients after completing aesthetics Foundation Training.
We’re frequently asked if it’s ok to start treating patients as soon as you’ve completed your introductory level course. The answer is more complex than you might think!
Here’s what you need to know…
“Can I treat injectables patients straight after completing my aesthetics foundation training?”
Woah there! We love the enthusiasm but first of all you’re going to need insurance.
Once you’ve successfully completed your entry level aesthetics course, for example a Foundation Course or Core Training in Botox & Dermal Fillers, you’ll be provided with certification. This then allows you to obtain the professional insurance cover you require to practice aesthetics. You also receive a ‘Best Practice Guide’ which really puts your initial responsibilities into context.
In order to start practising, you should determine your treatment menu and pricing. You’ll also need to kit yourself out with equipment, business supplies – including ways to take payment – and find suitable premises to work from.
If you cannot prescribe, you should develop a relationship with a prescriber who can do this for you. They will need to be physically present at all patient consultations.
You will further require a full complement of emergency protocols and a well-stocked emergency kit.
Once you have your insurance cover confirmed and your setup in place, legally you can then start to treat patients.
There are, however, a number of questions we recommend you ask yourself before doing so…
“Do I feel confident injecting without supervision?”
Knowing what to do in theory and being able to treat patients under expert supervision is a very different scenario to injecting solo. It is incredibly common not to feel confident injecting without supervision – after all, you’re treating a person’s face and there are real risks involved. It’s an entirely natural response.
In a 2022 survey, 93 per cent of our graduates said they did not feel confident injecting before completing their Level 7 course. In contrast, 100 per cent of Level 7 graduates advised they felt confident treating patients after achieving their qualification.
If your answer to this question was “no”, consider additional learning to build your confidence and experience. This can be done by…
1. Undertaking practical one-on-one mentoring sessions to develop your injection skills
2. Furthering your studies by taking a Level 7 Diploma in Botox & Dermal Fillers, or similar
3. Watching narrated treatment video demonstrations by respected aesthetics specialists (be careful to choose reputable sources)
4. Attending conferences and webinars to enhance your knowledge
5. Joining a clinic in a junior role where you will receive the support of your colleagues and professional development training. It is likely, however, that clinics may require a higher level of training when filling vacancies. But, if you come from the perspective of work experience, rather than a paid role, that may open more doors.
6. Read advice on injecting techniques and safety precautions, and case studies from reputable sources. Sign up for newsletters from established medical journals. You can access our free expert advice on various toxic and filler techniques, complications management, aesthetics marketing and mindset insights via the Aesthetics Articles section of our website. Other free resources include Google Scholar and setting up Google Alerts for specific topics of interest.
7. Complete a Prevention and Management of Dermal Filler Complications module. This eLearning aesthetics course can be taken in your own time, at your own pace. It also provides a valuable bank of reference material on complications that you can use throughout your career.
“Am I confident in the treatments I plan to offer after completing my aesthetics foundation training?”
When you first start out as an injector, the process of dealing with the whole patient journey can be daunting enough.
You need to remember everything from greeting them and conducting a thorough consultation, to performing the treatment, providing aftercare advice and taking payment. It can be a lot, especially if you’ve come from the NHS and are not used to this level of patient interaction. Keep appointment times relatively lengthy to reduce the pressure initially.
Make it easy on yourself and build your confidence slowly by only offering treatments you are confident in performing safely, with good, reproducible results. It doesn’t matter that your treatment menu is small. Everyone has to start somewhere!
Plus, the tighter you keep your menu, the more you can focus on providing an excellent service – something patients appreciate and which can generate great word-of-mouth referrals.
“What is my plan if a patient requires treatment I do not offer or am not confident in providing?”
You’re likely to be asked if you can perform a treatment you either don’t offer or are not confident in doing. Do not be tempted to ‘give it a go’! Your reputation takes a long time to build but seconds to destroy. You do not want to be taking such unnecessary risks, especially not so early on in your aesthetics career.
If you can, develop a referral relationship with a local, more experienced, ethical injector so you can send patients their way in such cases. You may be nervous to do so in case you lose their business for the treatments that you do provide but don’t let this cloud your judgement. It’s easier to bring in new patients than it is to restore a damaged reputation.
“Do I have all my emergency protocols in place and know what to do in the event of a complication?”
If the answer to this is “no”, should you really be treating patients yet..?
Ensure your full complement of emergency protocols are printed out and easy to find. Sticking them to the inside of cupboard doors or placing them in a binder with clearly named tab dividers separating them, make for swift access. Time is of the essence when it comes to emergency situations, as is being able to keep calm, so make sure everything you may need is prepared in advance.
In addition to your emergency protocols, you’ll need your emergency kit. This must be properly stocked and everything in it should be checked regularly for expiration dates.
Lastly, have all the names and contact information for people you can call on for support, if needed, available both on and offline. Again, inside cupboard doors or the cover of your binder are great places to keep this printed information.
“What kind of support network do I have in place?”
Having a professional support network is important in aesthetic medicine, especially for solo practitioners. Obviously this can come into its own during an emergency situation. It’s also a valuable everyday resource for talking through cases and techniques with peers.
Build your support network through contacts you make during your aesthetics training, at conferences or events and other networking opportunities. A “buddy” can be especially useful for new aesthetics practitioners, so you can share experiences and support each other.
You can also join Comma – the global online community for medical aesthetics. This is a fantastic peer-support app and, given its international nature, there are various time zones in play. So, whenever you post a query, you’re likely to get a response offering guidance or opinions.
Be realistic in your expectations of yourself
The above advice is not intended to put you off practising in any way. It’s simply to give you some important factors to consider before jumping in to treating patients.
Ensure you have realistic expectations of yourself. When you complete an entry level aesthetics course, such as Foundation Training, you will still only have a day or so of practical injecting experience, at most. And not all of that time will even have been spent treating live patients. You will also likely never have treated an injectables patient on your own without supervision.
In order to get your aesthetics career off to the best possible start, we recommend you:
1. Tailor your treatment offering to your skill and confidence levels
2. Don’t be afraid to start small and really hone your skills in these areas before expanding
3. Refer patients on where appropriate
4. Develop a strong, active professional support network and don’t be afraid to reach out
5. Consume as much reputable expert aesthetics content as possible
6. Keep up to date with the latest aesthetic medicine case studies and research
7. Continue your education through webinars, conferences, specialist courses and higher level qualifications. Aesthetic medicine is such a new and rapidly growing field that there is always something to learn, no matter what level you’re at, so stay hungry for knowledge!
Follow Harley Academy on Instagram to further explore our wealth of video content and articles from experienced aesthetics specialists to help build your confidence.