Training in aesthetic medicine has been revolutionised over the last 18 months. In the second instalment of our Q&A series with Harley Academy founder Dr Tristan Mehta, we sat down to discuss his passion for training, and how advances in technology can help train future aesthetic clinicians.
For the first part of our Q&A series, please click here.
Q: You created the UK’s first Ofqual-regulated level 7 in aesthetics. Harley Academy is he largest aesthetics training provider in the country. How did it all start?
A: I attended a basic weekend course in 2012, and my eyes were opened to just how varied the standards of training courses can be. There was no mention of management of vascular complications, very little material on facial anatomy and patient history taking wasn’t covered at all. I became fascinated by the sector.
I began to develop an interest in all areas of aesthetics. The ethics, the people, the science, and I started to follow the Health Education England (HEE) report. Once the 2015 guidelines were published I knew there was an opportunity to help drive standards in a high impact and meaningful way.
Many people talk about improving patient safety in aesthetics, but nobody was addressing the fundamental issue of training.
Q: What two key pieces of advice would you give to potential students looking to choose a training course in Botox and fillers?
A: Firstly, potential students should ensure that they future-proof themselves to upcoming regulations. HEE Guidelines specify that new and experienced aesthetics practitioners who wish to deliver botulinum toxins and soft tissue fillers should formally demonstrate that they have a postgraduate level of training by 2018. Students can achieve this by enrolling onto a level 7 qualification.
You should also be prepared to do your homework. Don’t be afraid of asking around, and ensure you obtain answers to all of the questions you have. Network at conferences, and do your reading online. Our team at Harley Academy are also on hand to answer any questions you have.
Q: Have you noticed attitudes change since the release of the Health Education England guidelines? And if so, how?
A: Half of our students at Harley Academy are brand new to aesthetics, and half are experienced practitioners. These experienced practitioners are looking for their knowledge and experience to be recognised through our level 7 fast track route, which recognises prior learning. All of our students are registered healthcare professionals who aspire to best practice standards. I’m thrilled to see how well the level 7 qualification has been received.
Q: How important is clinical mentoring?
A: Very. Harley Academy has been built from the ground up, and we have been intrinsically involved in the Health Education England review and developments with the Joint Council of Cosmetic Practitioners. We are incredibly proud of our nationwide mentoring network, which allows our students to receive 1:1 clinical mentoring from some of the UK’s leading aesthetic clinicians.
Students should avoid large group sessions, and remember that every patient must have a thorough history, assessment, consent and treatment to be classed as a “case” within the level 7 qualification.
“Many people talk about improving patient safety in aesthetics, but nobody was addressing the fundamental issue of training.”
Q: You’re are a big advocate of embracing technology. What part can it play in the future of aesthetics training?
A: The overlap between technology and aesthetics is really interesting. The major disruptive technologies, artificial intelligence, anti-ageing medicine and 3D-printing will have an impact on our sector. At present, Harley Academy is investing significantly in our digital content, and we aspire to provide continuous professional development for our students. We are learning from our student’s behaviours and preferred studying styles, and I suspect that in the future remote learning will become increasingly popular.
Q: The UK aesthetics industry is sometimes portrayed by some, and the media as corrupt and unregulated. From the perspective of someone with a passion for raising standards in training, what needs to be done improve its image?
A: Its image is largely propagated because sensationalist tabloids know that the general public finds ‘botched jobs’ and celebrity cosmetic interventions interesting. What is rarely portrayed is the vast majority of treatments that are done professionally, whereby the patient receives a life-altering result, hugely improving their confidence. That is what aesthetics is about. I hope that as these new standards emerge in 2017/2018, there will be opportunities for the press to learn more about our sector and take a different viewpoint.