How Diversity and Inclusivity Can Show Up in Medical Aesthetics
LGBTQIA+ ally and aesthetic injector Cassie Wind talks inclusivity and career inspiration.
How are diversity and inclusion initiatives changing Medical Aesthetics? As Houston-based Cassie Wind, RN, BSN, CANS, will tell you, embracing 2022’s “loudening consumer call for diversity”1 has been positive. Not only are the needs of historically underrepresented groups finally starting to be addressed, but aesthetic techniques and expectations are also expanding to suit a growing and increasingly diverse consumer market.
“I live in Houston, which is one of the largest and most diverse cities in America,” Cassie explains. “But there’s not a lot of practices that promote inclusivity. And I’m like, ‘You know what, I run my own business. I make the rules. So I’m going to change the game.’”
How does Cassie foster inclusivity while growing her career? She shares her inspiring story with Spark.
Creating a diverse and inclusive environment often starts at the top.
Cassie, who runs her own med spa and identifies as an LGBTQIA+ ally, is dedicated to fostering an inclusive atmosphere for both patients and employees alike. “As far as inclusivity, I like to create an environment where everyone is welcomed: every race, every gender, sexual preference, every geography, and ethnicity. We want everyone who works in our office, including those who enter our office, to feel very comfortable and accepted. If you work for me, you must have that mindset.”
In addition to starting complimentary gender affirmation treatments for those who cannot financially afford treatments in her office, Cassie feels that strong collaboration between colleagues is essential for providing excellent patient care. “After they send in pictures and write a blurb on how receiving these treatments could potentially help them, we assess each gender affirmation request in person to see if they’re candidates. If so, we treat them complimentarily. I think that collaboration is important, not just for assessing gender affirmation candidates but also for assessment of our daily clinic patients. My nurses and I collaborate on a daily basis. There’s not a day that goes by when we’re not showing each other pictures of our patients and asking if we’d do something different or choose a different product or approach.”
More men have been inquiring about aesthetic treatments.
Cassie’s dedication to creating a more inclusive and diverse atmosphere has also led to new patients. Although Cassie’s practice primarily treats female patients, she and her colleagues have noticed an increasing number of men coming in and inquiring about aesthetic treatments, a trend that is reflected globally.
“In my office, the common trend has been females bringing in their male spouses or boyfriends,” Cassie explains. “The women go home liking the results. Then the husbands start to ask questions like, ‘Well, that looks really nice—do you think she could do something about these lines?’ And so when they come back for their follow-up, they bring their husbands with them.” Cassie hopes that she will see an increase in the percentage of male patients. “Currently, about 10% of my patients are men. I, of course, wish it were more than that.”
Aesthetic treatments and techniques often take time to master.
Cassie didn’t start running her own practice immediately: it took her some time to master the techniques involved in aesthetic injecting, a fact she reiterates for both new aesthetic nurse trainees and patients alike. “When I’m training injectors, I tell them that creating fuller lips is actually very difficult and takes a lot of skill, patience, and practice. My lip augmentations can take up to an hour to complete. I don’t just blindly squirt product in a patient’s lips—it takes a lot of expertise and patience.”
Cassie knows that this advice can be difficult to hear, but she advises all new trainees to have patience with themselves. “There’s a lot to learn. I still don’t know everything after 16 years, and I’m probably one of the oldest injectors in Houston. When a new nurse attends one of my personal trainings, I will place emphasis on the most basic skills, which can be the most important. I believe it’s so vital to learn the basics and get proficient at a foundational level before you become an expert in whatever you’re trying to learn.” Aesthetic injectors who take the time to master fundamental techniques will gradually be able to learn new advanced techniques, allowing them to serve a more diverse group of patients with different aesthetic needs.
Improving training—both for trainers and trainees—can start by embracing an inclusive mindset.
Cassie believes that aesthetic trainings shouldn’t be an exercise in marking one’s territory but rather should be about genuinely sharing knowledge. “I want to improve the industry, so everybody that I train makes aesthetic medicine even better. I train with the mindset of sharing knowledge that I’ve learned. I don’t hoard all of my secret tips and tricks. Some injectors have that “hoarding all that they’ve learned” mindset, and I don’t believe in that. I believe we should all learn from each other, and the field doesn’t get better unless we collaborate and learn from our fellow colleagues. I like to offer myself as a resource to whomever I train.”
For Cassie, freely sharing knowledge also means that aesthetic nurse trainees should feel free to share their concerns and ask questions. “I want my trainees to never be afraid to ask questions. The reason you don’t know something is because you’ve never been taught. The reason you don’t see something in a patient’s face is because you’ve never been taught to see it. Don’t ever feel dumb asking questions, even the most basic questions. When I’m training, I tell them ‘This is your time, ask me anything!’ I love when newbies are really nervous, and then at the end of our trainings, there’s such a shift in their attitudes and confidence. I love seeing that.”
Aesthetic nurses can benefit from carefully selecting who they work under.
After an aesthetic nurse has completed their initial trainings, Cassie recommends that they carefully select who they work under. “I think it’s very important to practice under a reputable MD, plastic surgeon, or even a dermatologist. Make sure that your medical director is very approachable, is open to training, and has the same core values—as far as safety—that you share.” As much as she is an advocate of inclusivity and collaboration among her employees, Cassie also shares this mindset with her mentors and supervisors. Cassie has never been afraid to ask questions, and as a result, has a very engaging relationship with her medical director. “I’m always bothering him with questions and getting his opinion on things.”
In Cassie’s experience, matching with the right medical provider isn’t just beneficial in terms of having a positive working experience, it can also lead to additional opportunities. “Working under a board-certified plastic surgeon or board-certified dermatologist will open up opportunities to attain specialty certifications. In my experience, you have to be practicing in those two particular fields to earn board certifications, so I say be picky about who you work with, and interview them just like they’re going to interview you. Make sure you feel safe working for them.”
Continuing education can not only help improve one’s practice but also help expand the inclusivity of the field.
Becoming an injector isn’t simply about completing a set series of trainings. Continuing education and, most importantly, the desire to learn new information and meet new people are a large part of one’s career in Medical Aesthetics. “I attend one giant conference every single year,” Cassie explains. “That’s always one of my yearly goals. I must do that for my nursing license and to keep up to date with what’s new in the industry. I’m also CANS certified, and that’s a national board certification that I keep up. I’m required to have extra continuous education credits, so I’m constantly seeking it out.”
However, Cassie also dedicates a certain portion of each week to learning to improve both her practice and the field at large. Learning new information can expand our horizons, especially when it comes to understanding new cultures and perspectives. “Every week, I’m looking up and printing articles. My co-workers tease me because I always have copies of articles with me, passing them out to everyone, and I make them read everything that I read. I say that if you want to improve your practice, if you want to improve the field, you must learn something every single week. Don’t take things for face value; research and understand the why for all concepts. I spend about one to two hours a week learning and training on something. If I had it my way, I would probably block out four hours of my week, just to sit down with no patients and read and learn and take a class, but that would be in a perfect world.”
Medical Aesthetics is often best when used to focus on unique individual goals.
Inclusivity isn’t just about making everyone feel welcome and a part of the team—in Cassie’s experience, it’s also about expanding one’s mental perspectives and expectations. As surprising as it may be to hear an aesthetic injector say it, Cassie believes that everyone should “respect their natural anatomy.” In real terms, this translates to achieving realistic goals based on one’s own unique anatomy.
“Every single person is beautiful as they are,” Cassie elaborates. “We all have unique features. Learning to respect and accept your given facial anatomy means learning to love who you are. In terms of Medical Aesthetics, we’re just addressing your facial concerns to achieve your aesthetic goals. That’s what it’s about for me.”
About Cassie Wind, RN, BSN, CANS
Cassie Wind, RN, BSN, CANS, initially specialized in critical care at a neurotrauma critical care unit in Houston, Texas, before pursuing her career in Medical Aesthetics. She values building long-term, trust-based relationships with her patients in order to help them achieve their aesthetic goals. She is committed to remaining informed about cutting-edge industry techniques and innovations and holds memberships with the International Society of Plastic Surgery Nurses, the American Academy of Medical Esthetic Professionals, the American Nurses Association, the Texas Nurses Association, and Sigma Theta Tau International. She is also a national faculty trainer for a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company.
https://media.stylus.com/media/marketing/pdf/2022/Stylus_Look_Ahead_2022_Sept_Update.pdf. Accessed October 20, 2022.