Facial Injector Training: Safety First With Julie Bass Kaplan
For this expert injector and trainer, a passion for patient safety is personal.
For Julie Bass Kaplan, FNP-BC, NP-C, MSN, CANS, CPSN, HCMT, PHN, safety isn’t just a priority—it’s an entire mindset and approach. Here, she shares why, as an aesthetic injector and educator in the field, her passion for patient safety makes her career so satisfying.
A common entry point for Medical Aesthetics.
Julie Bass Kaplan got started in Medical Aesthetics 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. Her nursing career began in 1990 as a Certified Surgical Technologist and Certified First Assistant in the operating room. After deciding to switch to Medical Aesthetics, she and her husband, plastic surgeon Jory N. Kaplan MD, FACS, founded their own practice in 1999, and she dedicated herself exclusively to aesthetic lasers, dermal fillers, and neuromodulators.
Their business venture was fortunate to grow, thanks to lots of community support. “I look back and I don't know how it all came to be and how it happened. But at the time, it was exciting and fun. It was scary, too. But day after day, we just kept leaping and making exciting changes. I learned so much.”
The driving force behind education and safety.
Julie eventually went back to school to get her master’s degree in nursing. One of the reasons for this was so that she could teach other injectors. She particularly loves to teach injection techniques to Medical Aesthetics practitioners. She believes evidence-based knowledge and safe practices are key to results that help achieve her patients’ goals. Her emphasis on patient safety stemmed from a personal experience.
“Back in 2010, I experienced a complication in my face with a facial injectable. I realized that, even though we kind of knew what to do if that happens, there was no official protocol. Feeling lost, my husband (a plastic surgeon and also my business partner) and I reached out to several people to get help. It was a real wake-up call. At that point, I thought either I go back to being an OR nurse, or I move forward with a focus on safety.”
She continues, “I thought complications were one in a million before it happened to me. But, I got so much feedback from others who said, ‘This happened to me, too.’ This led me to some very good research at the time in 2010 that I didn't know existed. Through that, I discovered an entire network of safety-focused people to collaborate with.”
Over time, Julie built a strong community of other safety-minded professionals, and since then has been both mentor and mentee within the field of aesthetic injections.
Julie considers safety protocols to be living documents that are updated to reflect new innovations, procedures, and technologies. “I'm still learning after 23 years. That's the thing I like the best about this field of medicine. It’s not static. It's constantly changing.”
How her dedication to safety shows up in real life.
Julie has published an article on safety training in injections where she delves into how she infuses her commitment to patient safety within her day-to-day practice. This includes things like running drills to test her employees’ knowledge about what to do in case of an adverse event—including everyone from medical director to office manager. Everyone in the office carries a lanyard with printouts that explain what to do in case of an emergency, and the protocols are constantly updated so everyone always has the latest information handy.
“I tell the people that I train, ‘It's not a matter of if. It's a matter of when.’ I always ask them what is the first thing they’re going to do? If they don’t know the answer, we will stop and have a conversation to make sure they have the safety protocols down pat. In any field of medicine, you need to know it off the top of your head. You're not going to go grab the binder with a protocol in it and start reading—there isn’t time for that. It’s why being prepared for the worst isn’t just a mantra for me—it’s an entire way of working, of training, of mentoring,” she explains.
Why her message continues to resonate.
Julie has taken advantage of social media to connect with broader networks of aesthetic injectors to educate them about the importance of patient safety. Long before the pandemic, she was teaching virtual injection classes to nurses and continues to teach online. Whether she’s teaching online or in person, though, her message is the same.
“I think that every single injector, before they ever pick up their first syringe, needs to understand that complications happen. It's not one in a million. Anything from just a bad aesthetic outcome to an infection. There can be complications that every single person should be prepared for before they pick up their first syringe. I didn't have that luxury, because I didn't know enough when I first started out. You should memorize steps that you need to do and have the education to be able to diagnose and treat. If you are an RN, you should have a medical director who can diagnose and treat. If you don’t have that knowledge and expertise, then you should not pick up a syringe, put a needle on it and point it at another human being. I'm very, very, very passionate about that message.”
Her top two training takeaways.
Julie sums up her approach to safety-centric training, saying, “The most important thing for somebody to take away from training is to have passion, safety, education—but especially humility. Having passion is wonderful. But you should also have the humility to know that things aren't always going to be perfect.”
Medical Aesthetics is not only an industry; it’s a field of medicine where patient safety is of the utmost importance. Julie’s extra dedication to providing safety protocols for injectors is proof that personal experiences can inspire professionals to make a difference. Julie’s story is truly Spark-spirational!
About Julie Bass Kaplan, FNP-BC, NP-C, MSN, CANS, CPSN, HCMT, PHN
Julie Bass Kaplan, FNP-BC, NP-C, MSN, CANS, CPSN, HCMT, PHN, began her nursing career in 1990 as a Certified Surgical Technologist and Certified First Assistant in the operating room. She and her husband, plastic surgeon Jory N. Kaplan MD, FACS, founded their own practice in 1999. Since then, Julie has devoted her career exclusively to aesthetic laser, dermal fillers, and neuromodulators, eventually starting her own aesthetics company to facilitate the artistry and safety of facial aesthetics.
Julie received her master’s degree in nursing from Loyola University New Orleans. In addition, she is a Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN) and a Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist (CANS). She also holds certifications in Public Health Nursing (PHN) and Health Care Management (HCMT). Julie holds nursing licenses in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Nevada. Julie has a special interest in teaching safe injection techniques. She is a faculty speaker and regional trainer for various Medical Aesthetics organizations across the country.