What Are a Top Aesthetic Injector’s Lessons For Her Younger Self?
For Brooke Anderson, RN, BSN, CANS, wisdom comes with experience
Brooke Anderson, RN, BSN, CANS has come a long way from her first step as an aesthetic injector. Now the owner of her own Salt Lake City, Utah-based practice, Brooke took some time to reflect on all the lessons she’s learned and what advice she would give herself if she could go back in time.
1. Go for it! Don’t be afraid to make a career change.
Brooke began her medical career as an RN in the labor and delivery department. “I worked with women for a lot of years, and I loved it. But there was a point where it became hard to balance weekend, holiday, and night shifts with being a mother to three young children,” she says.
She heard about a position with a plastic surgeon who was just opening a practice, and she felt lucky to land an interview—and ultimately, a job offer. “I went from having a full-time job with benefits and guaranteed hours to no benefits and maybe only one or two days a week. So it took some time to make the decision.”
Brooke weighed the excitement and potential of a career in Medical Aesthetics against the uncertainty about work hours and benefits, and she took the leap into the new role. She started out working in the operating room, assisting with recovery and surgery. Then, a new opportunity arose at the practice to spearhead the opening of a med spa. She jumped again and progressively built her skill set as an injector; at that time there weren’t many opportunities to get training. Her philosophy was seeing every client back for follow-up and constantly learning and improving her skills.
2. Keep at it. The rewards of working in Medical Aesthetics don’t happen overnight.
“Before aesthetic injections were really a big thing, the plastic surgeon I was working for decided to open a med spa, and they needed someone to figure it out,” Brooke explains. “I was there and just jumped in and did it all from the ground up. But it was years of working in the operating room before that happened.”
Today, Brooke enjoys the flexibility afforded by her career in Medical Aesthetics, although it didn’t start out that way. “I absolutely put in a lot of hours, stayed late, and made some sacrifices to build a patient base. But it paid off, and the rewards are so worth it.”
Brooke’s career now allows her to spend more time with her family, set her own schedule, and travel out of town for trainings or networking events. She notes the importance of putting the extra time and effort in at the beginning, working around patients’ schedules, and being available when it’s convenient for them. “I went out of my way to accommodate my clients, and sometimes that meant working later or earlier or on a weekend. But, guess what. It made them happy, and they referred people to me because I made their experience about them
and their outcome.”
Brooke also points out that educational resources like Spark can help healthcare providers embark on a career in Medical Aesthetics. “It’s an absolutely amazing career, but it might not be as glamorous as it appears all the time. It’s a big decision and can be a big change; there is more taking your work home with you. You’re continually looking for ways to grow and putting personal time and effort into your career. Spark can help providers understand what goes into the job, the trainings, and the investment that it takes to succeed.”
3. Invest in yourself. Aesthetic injector training is important.
“I would tell my younger self to invest every year, especially right from the get-go, into going to national trainings, and to make sure that training is accredited through dermatology, plastic surgery, nursing, or another relevant field,” Brooke explains. “And to see if I could be getting CME hours because it means things have been presented fairly and are backed by experienced practitioners and science. I would tell myself to seek out conferences that are less promotional, more educational, and hopefully put on by industry leaders. The leaders are the ones publishing studies; they have an in-depth knowledge of injection anatomy with the focus on desired outcomes. Leaders in aesthetics inject and see a lot of clients; they understand and develop new techniques and procedures. So learning directly from industry leaders is invaluable.”
For anyone getting started in Medical Aesthetics, Brooke advises having a really good neuromodulator training because it will give you the basics and a foundation for building a patient base. She believes there is a lot you can learn through online courses, but hands-on training and mentorship from someone who is a seasoned injector is essential. “From there, I recommend taking a detailed lip enhancement training as the next step.”
Brooke suggests focusing on trainings and conferences that are relevant to areas that you would like to specialize in and never missing an opportunity to attend local trainings or webcasts.
“So ask around, find out what’s happening. It’s incredible how much you can learn and take back to your practice and career,” she says. As someone who became a trainer herself, Brooke embodies the spirit of continuous learning.
4. Don’t be intimidated. Aesthetic injector trainers were once trainees too.
“As an injector myself, who began my career without having much of a knowledge base to draw from, it’s important to me to be a trainer and mentor,” Brooke says. As a trainer, Brooke does her best to make providers feel at ease and confident.
“I understand what it’s like to be presented with an individual patient who wants to address their aesthetic concerns. Each time there will likely be variations, so I provide a starting point and a framework of simple, repeatable ways to approach injecting that will be useful and memorable to providers.”
As a trainer, Brooke makes herself available to others as a mentor. “I recognized how valuable it would’ve been for me to have access to mentors when I was just starting out. It's crucial to have someone you can reach out to with questions and maybe even complications. I love to have new and seasoned injectors shadow me for a day. I’m always happy to share my injecting and outcome experiences with anyone who reaches out to me.”
5. Pace yourself. As an aesthetic healthcare provider, it’s helpful to slow down and breathe.
Between running her own practice, conducting trainings, and attending trainings and conferences herself, to say Brooke is busy is an understatement. But, as she’s grown in her career and expertise, she’s learned the value of pacing herself, both for her own sake and also to ensure she’s providing a safe, positive patient experience.
“I’ve found over the years there have been times where the schedule gets too full, and maybe I’m adding on a treatment or fitting someone in and I get rushed,” she explains. “I’ve learned we should never feel like we’re in a hurry when performing injections! It’s the one time we have to slow down to truly take care of our patients and provide a safe environment. Even if there’s a time crunch, pause, take a deep breath as you’re injecting. Really make sure your focus is on what you’re currently doing and that you’re being mindful of the patient’s comfort and safety.”
Slowing down enough to remember the details starts before the procedure. She emphasizes preparing patients for procedures before they come in as well as educating them about what to expect afterward. “Taking the time to answer any questions and review post-procedure protocols, both verbally and with a written take-home checklist, goes a long way when it comes to elevating the overall patient experience,” Brooke says.
6. Don’t give up! You own your aesthetic career path.
Looking back on her career journey, Brooke sums it up in one word: elevated.
“My career in Medical Aesthetics has elevated me as a person, as a professional, as a nurse, as a mother, as a friend, as a mentor, as a trainer, and now as a business owner. It’s given me opportunities to travel and meet new people. It’s just elevated my life in a lot of ways.”
“I find that it’s a career where I see successful providers always looking for ways to gain more knowledge, more education, and be more business savvy—I feel I’m surrounded by people who are constantly wanting to elevate their career and relationships. That’s been such a positive place for me.”
About Brooke Anderson, RN, BSN, CANS
Brooke Anderson has been in the aesthetic space for over 15 years. She started her career as a registered nurse in labor and delivery in 1996. In 2006, she began working with plastic surgeons in the operating room and clinic. Brooke was instrumental in opening one of Salt Lake City’s first med spas and has been injecting and training other providers ever since. Brooke has been practicing as a certified aesthetic nurse specialist since 2015. She is a member of the International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses as well as the American Med Spa Association. She stays current on advancements in the industry by regularly attending national conferences and trainings. Brooke trains other providers locally and nationally. She is passionate about mentoring providers and teaching assessments.