Getting Your First Job in Aesthetics
These examples are intended to provide information and inspiration for your journey and are not a recommendation or endorsement.
Landing your first job in the Medical Aesthetics industry takes strategy, preparation, a lot of dedication, and a bit of luck.
Spark by Allergan Aesthetics talked to a variety of practitioners in the Medical Aesthetics field— including dermatologists, nurse practitioners, and a physician assistant—about what it might take to break into this growing industry and start doing what you love.
1. Immersing yourself in the business can potentially enhance your resume.
It may be difficult to get experience in Medical Aesthetics—especially if it is required when applying to a position. If this is the case, you can still boost your resume by demonstrating a commitment to the field with external experiences such as trainings or certification courses.
A step that impresses on a resume? Master anatomy. A detailed understanding of the anatomical structures and relationships below the skin’s surface is vital and also helps aid in maximizing patient safety.1 Also, seek training—with as many virtual and hands-on training courses that you can. Sign up for virtual and in-person experiences and conferences, read up on relevant journals in the field, and connect with other professionals and organizations on social media to stay on top of new treatments and techniques.2 Professional aesthetic society websites are also full of information and event dates and can help you to network with others in the field.
2. It can take a bit of ingenuity to get the experience your first job will require.
Even entry-level aesthetics jobs require some experience, so you’ll want to maximize every bit of exposure you’ve had before you’re even ready to apply.
For Simone Hopes, a surgical physician assistant in Houston, Texas, that exposure came from a clinical rotation during PA school for plastics and reconstructive surgery. “That introduced me to a little bit of aesthetics,” she explains, “so I used that as leverage when I applied to the med spa. I was like, ‘Hey, I’ve done this!’”
3. Shadowing can be key to getting your foot in the door.
Shadowing another practitioner is an incredible learning opportunity and resume builder, which may lead to a job.3
After then-ICU nurse Molly Boudreault took an 18-week course online, it was shadowing a facial plastic surgeon at a med spa that provided the best job experience. “Even though I wasn’t actually treating patients, I was able to hear the conversations and learn the protocols, the dosing, and a lot about patient safety and what to expect post-treatment,” says Boudreault, who is now a lead injector and aesthetic nurse practitioner. Because the physician Boudreault shadowed appreciated her passion for aesthetics and her dedicated quest for knowledge, she ended up asking Boudreault to join her staff.
Hopes called plastic surgeons all over Houston to find a shadowing opportunity. Eventually one doctor said yes, and after a while, she reports, “He was vouching for me. He became my resume builder.” Hopes shadowed for two to three hours a day for six to seven months, on top of her full-time work at a hospital. “You have to make sacrifices now for a greater reward later,” she says.
4. Mentors can be educators, connections, and coaches.
When Hopes was first applying to PA school, she found a mentor in a family medicine practitioner who showed her the ropes, including neurotoxin injections, and mentored her all through PA school. “He allowed me to come in and literally get all my patient care hours,” she says. “He really helped me a lot.”
Don’t be afraid to reach out to a potential mentor directly, as long as you’re respectful of their time, and know exactly what you’re looking for, suggests Corey L. Hartman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder and medical director of his practice in Homewood, Alabama. “Come with a specific need and ask—those are the people who are successful,” he says.
As far as choosing a mentor, Dr. Hartman recommends seeking out practitioners whose careers you’d like to model. For example, he says, he learned a lot from one doctor in academic medicine, but in the end, it was a dermatologist who showed him what his future could hold. “You had these A-list celebrities walking in like it was nothing,” he says. “The nurses are like, ‘What are you here for?’ And they’re like, ‘I don’t know, whatever the doctor says,’ and I tell this story all the time because that’s how I’ll know I’ve arrived, when patients come in and say, ‘Whatever Dr. Hartman says.’”
Though Dr. Hartman is well established with his own practice at this point, he continues to seek out mentors because you can never have too many. “I have so many mentors—different reasons, different seasons,” he says. “I built a village with other dermatology business owners, and we rely on each other and kind of mentor each other, like on a peer-to-peer basis,” he says, adding, “There are going to be little things that come up where you want to have a community of people around. I don’t know many successful people who can unabashedly say that they never had anybody help them.”
5. Some healthcare practitioners cold-call local practices they want to work for.
Don’t be afraid to dial up local offices near you to express your interest and offer your assistance—whatever that may look like. Board-certified nurse practitioner and aesthetic specialist Racquel Frisella, MSN, RN, AGPCNP-BC, based in St. Louis, Missouri, landed her first aesthetics job at a med spa after handing her resume and cover letter to every reputable practice in town to network her way into the industry.
“That’s where I started getting my on-the-job training,” she says.
6. Networking is the glue that connects you to jobs now and down the line.
Networking helped Boudreault transition successfully from intensive care unit nurse to aesthetic nurse practitioner. “There were so many articles and different practitioners who were willing to help,” says Boudreault, of Palo Alto, California. “I asked a few people in my community if they would sit down with me over coffee and talk about how to get into the aesthetics space—what was most helpful was talking to these industry veterans and learning what they thought was important.”
Boudreault advises getting involved with professional aesthetic societies, attending annual events and conferences, or even finding social media groups with fellow practitioners in Medical Aesthetics to give you a space to learn, share ideas, and further expand your community.
7. Keep training to stay current in this ever-evolving field.
Sherly Soleiman, MD, is the founder, provider, and medical director of an aesthetic injectable center in Sherman Oaks, California, but her education is ongoing. “I don’t think you can ever know too much,” says Dr. Soleiman, who took advantage of trainings led by pharmaceutical companies as well as all the seminars and conventions she could manage, to get up to speed initially. “I attended every single lecture, took very detailed notes, and went over them like I did when I would take finals in medical school,” she says. “I took it very seriously.”
To this day, she attends trainings that are offered. “I feel like there are always small tweaks that I can make, new things in the pipeline to learn about, and different gadgets that I can have in my office to help make the patient experience better,” Dr. Soleiman says.
Medical Aesthetics is always changing, so brushing up on your knowledge by regularly reading journal articles, attending hands-on trainings, and speaking with colleagues to share new skills and procedure techniques can be key in making sure that you are growing along with it, and honing your skills.4
8. Go out and give it your all.
“If you see this as your dream job, you just have to go for it and do everything you can to make it happen,” says Frisella. “I know for some people it can seem overwhelming or like it’s never going to happen, but if you want it badly enough, you can make it happen.”
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David JA, Rifkin WJ, Saadeh PB, Sinno S. Assessing the Value of a Multimedia-Based Aesthetic Curriculum in Plastic Surgery Residency: A Single-Center Pilot Study. Aesthet Surg J. 2018;38(12):NP216-NP224. doi:10.1093/asj/sjy110
Epstein I, Peisachovich E, Da Silva C, Lee C, Solomon P. Medical Aesthetics Training: Shifting to Collective Competence. Plast Surg Nurs. 2017;37(3):103-108. doi:10.1097/PSN.0000000000000196
O'Neill R, Raj S, Davis MJ, et al. Aesthetic Training in Plastic Surgery Residency. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2020;8(7):e2895. Published 2020 Jul 17. doi:10.1097/GOX.0000000000002895