From Nurse to Aesthetic Nurse Injector: 5 Career Journeys
Learn how they made the switch to a Medical Aesthetics career.
Many Medical Aesthetics professionals make their way into the field from another area of medicine. Whether it’s the high stakes and high stress of environments like emergency rooms, or ICUs, or the pressure of working with patients who are experiencing pain or illness, healthcare professionals entering Medical Aesthetics often find that it provides flexibility and positivity. So, what’s it like switching careers? We asked five of our experts to share their experiences. Keep reading to get inspired by their stories.
Ashley Louise Bohling, PA-C: from bone pain to Lip Queen.
Today, Ashley Louise Bohling is a certified physician assistant aesthetic injector based in Chicago, Illinois. But Ashley began her medical career working with orthopedics patients, and she frequently felt undervalued as a provider. “Orthopedics patients came through the door to see an orthopedic surgeon,” she explains. “Because they were in pain or experiencing different ailments, their demeanor wasn’t always the most pleasant, which I completely understand. But a lot of the patients were frustrated about seeing me instead of the surgeon, and I got a lot of questions like, ‘What’s a PA? Are you a personal assistant?’ It became frustrating to try and prove my worth.”
It was an experience seeing a nurse practitioner in her hometown for a cystic acne scar treatment that inspired her to make the switch to Medical Aesthetics. “Her whole philosophy was to make sure we had a great canvas before we did any enhancements. I never felt like she had dollar signs in her eyes. She just wanted to help me and improve my scar, and I decided I wanted to replicate that experience in my own career as a medical provider.”
Ashley decided nothing was going to stop her until she became an aesthetic nurse or aesthetic physician assistant. “I took a course not knowing where I would end up working. But I lobbied for myself, and I ended up having multiple offers.”
Now, the self-described Lip Queen is well known enough that patients come from all over the country to see her. “The farthest away was Hawaii, which I thought was incredible and something I’m very proud of.”
“I strive to achieve my patients' aesthetic goals! When my patients take their first look in the mirror I want them to be ‘wowed’. That’s what fuels me to keep doing better.”
Ginille Brown, NP: from changing her perceptions about Medical Aesthetics to making patient connections.
Ginille Brown happened to be in the right place at the right time. Her husband did his medical residency in Los Angeles, and she was working as a family nurse practitioner when she happened to connect with a colleague who was working in an emergency room that Ginille was potentially interested in working in too. Instead, the nurse practitioner invited Ginille to a “med spa workout.”
“I had no idea what it was. She said to just come, saying terms like injectables and lasers. In my head, I had this perception about Medical Aesthetics, that I couldn’t relate to the patients and therefore wouldn’t be able to serve them as best as I could,” Ginille says. “But she was nice, so I just went. It was there that I got to see that Medical Aesthetics can be appropriate for many.”
“We were hearing patients’ stories about why they were seeking out certain procedures, injections, and treatments, and it just shattered my perception of what I thought Medical Aesthetics was,” Ginille says.
“I feel very fortunate to have had that experience because it showed me the human side of the field,” she continues. “It’s not the typical way a lot of providers come into Medical Aesthetics. But I’m grateful because I didn’t ever think I would be where I am today.”
Seeing the human side of Medical Aesthetics is what drives Ginille in her career. “Connecting with my patients, hearing their stories, and building relationships with them are what keep me going. I’ve seen multiple generations of the same family. It’s just really rewarding to be able to give my patients a safe, positive experience.”
Jennifer Pilotte, APRN, AGACNP-C: from a part-time job at a med spa to a full-time passion for Medical Aesthetics.
Jennifer got an early start in Medical Aesthetics; her first job was working in sales behind the front desk of a med spa. “I was a front desk attendant at a med spa throughout nursing school. I had a lot of opinions about Medical Aesthetics then. One of those opinions was that I didn’t see myself working in this field so I went into the hospital setting. The industry has evolved so much since then, and I found my way back to it at the best time. I can’t wait to see how we continue to advance.”
When it came to her medical career, at first she decided to go in a different direction, obtaining her nursing degree and working as an ICU nurse while getting her nurse practitioner’s degree. But her passion for Medical Aesthetics pulled her back into the field, and she ignited her career as an aesthetic injector.
“What drew me back was the increased number of aesthetic products and uses, as well as the training that’s available that wasn’t around back in 2005,” Jennifer explains.
Still, she values her experience as an ICU nurse because it gave her a strong foundation in providing healthcare services to patients.
“I think it’s valuable to understand what a healthcare provider is,” she says. “Medical Aesthetics is a field of medicine and needs to be treated that way.”
That respect for healthcare providers and the field of medicine helped pave the way for Jennifer’s current practice.
Nicola Lowrey, PA-C: from the emergency room to the aesthetic treatment room.
Nowadays, Nicola Lowrey, PA-C, is an expert when it comes to aesthetic injections at her Manhattan Beach, California-based practice, but her original career goal started by attending Keck School of Medicine of USC to work as a physician assistant in an emergency room setting.
Nicola’s career continued its trajectory into emergency medicine as she originally intended, but she never forgot about her experience with neurotoxins. So when an opportunity arose to take a weekend certification course in aesthetic injectables, she jumped at it.
For 15 years, Nicola maintained roles in emergency rooms and at a med spa, before finally deciding to transition into Medical Aesthetics full time. “I would’ve never imagined in a million years that I would have the ability to divide my time between my clinical practice while also having the opportunity to educate; they are definitely equal passions for me,” Nicola says.
Nicola’s switch to Medical Aesthetics is proof that passions change over time. “I did originally go into medicine because I felt passionate about emergency medicine and working in a surgical specialty, but what I learned during my clinical rotations is that the treatments that had the potential to positively influence a patient’s health, or give them a positive experience, were the ones that fulfilled me the most.”
Julie Bass Kaplan, FNP-BC, NP-C, MSN, CANS, CPSN, HCMT, PHN: from self-care mission to lifelong career.
After receiving her master’s degree in nursing from Loyola University, New Orleans, Julie Bass Kaplan’s nursing career began in 1990 as a certified surgical technologist andcertified first assistant in the operating room. “I was an associate nurse and I read about a laser hair removal device. I had some chin hairs I wanted to get rid of. So I actually got into Medical Aesthetics by the hair of my chinny chin chin,” she says with a laugh.
Another reason Julie decided to switch from a hospital setting to Medical Aesthetics was to take advantage of the flexibility and freedom it offered. “I started in this career for purely selfish reasons. I wanted to initially be home with the children more, to be able to set my own hours. I didn’t have children at the time, but I knew I wanted to start having babies and start a family as well,” she said.
After deciding to switch to Medical Aesthetics, she and her husband, plastic surgeon Jory N. Kaplan, MD, FACS, founded their practice in 1999, and Julie has dedicated herself exclusively to aesthetic lasers, dermal fillers, and neuromodulators.
“My career path has outweighed even my wildest dreams,” says Julie. “I could never have imagined what we’re able to do today as nurses and as practitioners.”