What We Wish We Knew When We Were Starting Out
A Dermatologist and her daughter, a med spa owner and Physician Assistant - Certified (PA-C), share their advice.
These examples are intended to provide information and inspiration for your journey and are not a recommendation or endorsement.
It’s hard not to be inspired by mother-daughter duo Dr. Jody Comstock, MD and Jamie Comstock, PA-C, who have both had incredible journeys and achievements in the Medical Aesthetics industry. Although they don’t work together, their bond has helped to shape both of their approaches, experiences, and goals for the future.
Dr. Comstock is a pioneer in the field of aesthetic dermatology. Having practiced for over 25 years, she was on the front lines of Medical Aesthetics before it was even a term. She has honed her craft, been part of developing new technologies, techniques, and innovations, and truly believes that there is always more to learn, so she stays in touch with a broad community of other aesthetic dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and Medical Aesthetics professionals to expand her knowledge base and be able to teach others.
Jamie Comstock, PA, started out working at her mom’s practice. After learning and growing there, she struck out on her own, focusing on facial rejuvenation. Now, she is a partner in a number of face-focused med spas with three locations in Arizona, one coming soon to Park City, Utah, and aspirations to expand across the entire country.
Along the way, Jamie and Jody have grown both personally and professionally in the Medical Aesthetics industry, and have collected stories and knowledge that may inspire and inform you in your own career journey. Here, we share some of their most useful, interesting, and helpful tips.
On the importance of marketing.
Jody Comstock, MD:“In our aesthetic practice, most of our marketing is educating directly to our patients with science and visualization. It is personal and strategic. We grow our nontraditional business of medicine and aesthetics with social media as it allows many patients to learn, understand, and communicate with us directly and indirectly. Social media blends in beautifully with the focus areas of aesthetic dermatology.”
Remember, your patients and clients are coming to you not just for a procedure, but for your knowledge and expertise. Don’t be shy about sharing it.
On sounding “sales-y.”
Jamie Comstock, PA:“I love medicine. But I also realized after working with different physicians and seeing people in a medical field that you don't really get a business education when you study medicine. In college, I wanted to learn business marketing and graduated from the Eller Business School with a marketing degree. I also loved sales and being involved representing companies.”
“Most people that study medicine are afraid to sound sales-y. Sometimes when they're recommending a treatment plan for patients, they are worried about bringing up pricing. I'm thankful that I had sales experience. Because I truly believe if you are recommending a specific treatment plan to address a patient’s aesthetic goals, it's going to give the patient what they need. Don’t think of it as sales; you're doing your job, which is to serve the interests and needs of your patients and clients.”
The bottom line? Being sales-y isn’t about the business bottom line; it’s about proactively recommending a plan that meets your patients’ goals and needs.
On shadowing everyone in a practice.
Jamie Comstock, PA:“Shadowing was the best thing for me. When I train and hire new people, I try to emphasize this, but some people just want to get out there and inject. They don't always want to take the time to immerse themselves in the practice culture. The best thing that ever happened to me was just being immersed into my mom's office and working every position from the front desk to medical assistant to laser technician. We had core basics that we studied and became proficient at, but I learned from working and just watching and hearing how my mom spoke to patients. I observed her patient consultations and we did follow-ups together. I didn't realize until later on when I was working on my own how much I had picked up over the years just by observing and working as a team member. Shadowing someone is so much more than just standing there and watching. You really are involved in assisting, listening, and learning how to interact with patients.”
Jody Comstock, MD:“You can never overestimate excellent training and excellent experiences. It'll shorten your learning curve because you get to learn from every angle, every step of the patient experience.”
Both Jamie and Jody believe in the importance of everyone shadowing everyone throughout the practice, no matter what their position or role is. Developing a holistic understanding of the practice, the patients, the interactions, and the services can help you understand where and how you fit into the overall experience, so adopt the mindset that you have something to learn from everyone on your team.
On the value of a multifaceted training program.
Jody Comstock, MD:“The major influences are multifactorial. It is the many touch points and experiences in medicine, business, art, aesthetics, and understanding the human mind that have helped us create our training program. Additionally, our training program is consistently getting revised and updated. To truly excel at anything, one often has numerous and variable experiences in their area of expertise.”
Jamie Comstock, PA:“As a PA, having to complete a defined training program made a huge impact in my career, and I believe it is necessary for anyone looking to get into this industry. My mom's program focused on patient experience, understanding a full facial consultation, and the importance of seeing patients for follow-up appointments. Being able to shadow and assist the other injectors helped me really develop an eye for aesthetics and learn how to effectively communicate with patients. The training program also included frequent practice on staff and supervised with patients early on, which allowed me to develop my technical skills. Learning and practicing with patients of different ages, races, and genders was so important to learn how the products work in a diversity of skin types and to understand all of the different injectables. It is so much more than taking a 1-2 day course to get certified in injectables.”
If you are just getting started on your journey, you may benefit from seeking out training programs with comprehensive, holistic elements, so you may learn how to master your craft.
On trainings when you are starting out.
Jamie Comstock, PA:“Train with one of the aesthetic companies. Take beginner courses. Take an anatomy course at a cadaver lab. Get laser certified. I would recommend being an aesthetic medical assistant for someone—assisting and being willing to take any position to learn. Look at your learning as it is similar to a residency or fellowship. It’s years and years of learning, observing professionals, procedures and techniques in action.”
Both Jamie and Jody say that one of the most frequently asked questions they get from aspiring aestheticians is which training programs or certifications are the most important. Licensing and certification requirements vary by state, but building a strong foundation of fundamental anatomy and Medical Aesthetics basics may be a good place to start.
On being willing to learn.
Jody Comstock, MD:“People reach out regularly to me and ask to be an apprentice in my practice or what they should do to learn the trade of aesthetic and procedural dermatology. They may or may not understand the time and learning commitment needed to excel and feel confident in our field of work. I love hearing a candidate would work for no or minimal compensation or take any paying job in the practice just for the experience. When I hear people want to mentor with us, I know they understand they will need to be educated and invest in themself.”
“Early on in my career I would travel and work one on one with all the medical leaders in the industry. I would take the day off work, pay for these training days on my own, and literally mentor with other pioneer aesthetic physicians so that I could watch and absorb their knowledge. And now, I can do the same for others. We are fortunate today that there are so many organized meetings, training options, and virtual learning opportunities.”
Jamie Comstock, PA chimes in on apprenticeships:“You have to keep reaching out to find a practice that is willing to take you in. Get your foot in the door. Take any position you can. In the long run, you’ll learn so much.”
Feeling inspired? Get out there and start your own Medical Aesthetics journey! We’ll share more sparkspiration from Jamie and Dr. Jody Comstock in future articles.
About Dr. Jody Comstock, MD
Aesthetic Dermatologist Dr. Jody Comstock might be a pediatrician today if not for a scheduling glitch during her residency in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A canceled clinical rotation during medical school education landed her in a dermatology rotation instead, and, more than 25 years later, she’s now a leading dermatologist in Tucson, Arizona. Known nationally and internationally as a pioneer in the field of aesthetic dermatology, Dr. Comstock is contacted often for her thoughts about the latest advances in techniques, products, business strategies, and leadership skills.
About Jamie Comstock, PA-C
Jamie Comstock, PA-C, is a native of Tucson, Arizona and received her undergraduate degree from Eller Business School at University of Arizona. She then went on to get her master’s degree in physician assistant studies from Midwestern University in Phoenix. She is certified with the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and is state licensed in Arizona, California, and Nevada. Jamie specializes in facial aesthetics, preventative medicine, and skin care. With a strong interest in the global approach to facial rejuvenation, she takes into account the patient’s overall face when providing an evaluation and recommendations.