From Nurse to Nurse Injector: A Successful Journey into Medical Aesthetics
Jennifer Pilotte, APRN, AGACNP-C, built her practice inside a plastic surgery center.
Jennifer Pilotte, APRN, AGACNP-C, is an aesthetic injector whose Medical Aesthetics career began behind the front desk of a med spa when she was in high school. Since then, she’s cultivated a large social media following while still finding time to keep learning and start a training initiative. Read on as she shares her advice for anyone interested in elevating their career as an aesthetic injector.
Re-attracted to an evolving industry.
Jennifer got an early start in Medical Aesthetics; her first job was working in sales behind the front desk of a med spa. Eventually, she went 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 is 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 is 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.
A unique practice with unique benefits.
Jennifer operates a med spa that is located within a plastic surgery center. While many med spas and plastic surgery practices are separate businesses, Jennifer’s professional journey led her to merge her practice with her mentor’s surgical center.
“Being located within a plastic surgery center can give you a lot of options. As far as your treatment portfolio for your patients, you're able to provide the full spectrum of what they need. If you have the ability to offer nonsurgical, surgical, and laser treatments, you have more options to create desirable outcomes in a safe environment,” she says.
Although the two practices operate independently, Jennifer makes herself available to patients of the plastic surgery center if the need arises, and her patients have access to the surgical services and facilities. She points out other benefits as well.
“In my experience, being located in an office with a plastic surgeon gives me credibility. I also have a lot of support, especially when it comes to patient safety. If anything adverse was to happen to one of my patients, I have the ultimate support in complication management being located within a surgery center. It can help my patients feel safer,” she continues.
There are also inherent business efficiencies that come with operating a med spa inside a plastic surgeon’s office. Jennifer’s med spa can utilize some of the office’s administrative and bookkeeping staff as well as operational processes like billing and checkout. Leveraging resources in this way means less overhead and heavy lifting to establish resources for a standalone practice.
Jennifer points out that this arrangement affords her the flexibility to truly focus on her work and provide her patients with their desired outcomes. “I think that it would be incredibly hard to be a standalone business owner while also being an injector. The bottom line is, I can offer my patients a wider variety of procedures. I'm much more confident in my ability to give my patients the results that they're asking for in a safe environment.”
An accessible mentor.
“I'm lucky to be able to work with my mentor. She is there on a daily basis. She's been in this industry for 20 years and understands not only injecting, but the business side of the Medical Aesthetics field,” Jennifer explains.
Even now, with her well-rounded experience, Jennifer turns to her mentor for guidance and advice. “The most valuable part of a good mentorship is having someone with real-life experience that they can bestow upon you. If they’ve already dealt with an issue you are experiencing, they can help you avoid potential mistakes and challenges.”
Jennifer also points out the difference between a mentor and a role model, although both are important to have. To her, mentors provide guidance, while role models serve as sources of inspiration. She looks for Medical Aesthetics practitioners that she respects, who have created results that she aspires to replicate.
Jennifer discovered many of her role models through training experiences. If she studied with a trainer she felt inspired by, Jennifer would maximize the opportunity to use the training as a way into a more robust relationship. “The trainers that stuck out to me and inspired me during training sessions are role models I look up to and model my career after,” she says.
A mentor is especially important for anyone starting out as an injector when they may not have the experience and confidence to be entirely sure of themselves. “The best thing is experience. But the second-best thing is having a mentor,” she explains.
Training, training, and more training.
“I like to tell a new injector to treat your first three years as if it was a residency,” Jennifer advises. “There is no standardized training for this field. So, it's up to the injector to identify their goals and develop the training necessary to achieve them, which can be challenging and expensive—but is totally worth it.”
While Jennifer herself is engaged in continuing education and doesn’t intend to stop furthering her knowledge and skills, she has developed a training philosophy she describes as “elevated education for the modern injector.”
“I see elevated training as training that you want to go to—different and more accessible than what is out there now. This perspective was born out of my personal training experiences, often feeling as though I was lost in a crowd, like being in a large university lecture. With my partner, we bring top trainers into a more intimate setting in a small environment to create a collaborative and relationship-building experience,” she says. “We want injectors to leave a training session with new friends, a new network, and a strong support system, as well as new professional capabilities and ways to increase productivity in their offices.”
When it comes to traditional training, especially for injectors just starting out, Jennifer advises anatomy courses and cadaver labs to gain an understanding of facial structure before moving into actual procedural training. “If you don't have a lot of certifications, then start by getting certified in one procedure that you’re comfortable with. Learn from your patients, listen to their feedback, and utilize your network until you truly master it. Then move on to the next procedure you’re interested in.”
She adds, “What I recommend to a lot of aspiring injectors is to find a facility that is going to train you and feed you patients. Look at facilities that have multiple locations that are more chain-like and invest a lot in marketing. It’s one way to build a clientele and gain confidence in your capabilities as an injector.”
In addition to training, Jennifer expands her knowledge base with lots of reading and research, subscribing to various academic journals and publications. She even uses a newer method to stay up to date on interesting developments in the field. “I subscribe to Google Scholar® with certain keywords to get the latest information. Plastic surgery journals and dermatology journals are great resources, too. Not only can you discover effective evidence-based treatments, but you can also see what could potentially be the next big thing in Medical Aesthetics,” she explains.
Continuous learning as an aspiration.
Jennifer has a unique approach to both her practice and her philosophy of elevated training, but for her, there’s one key element to thriving as an injector or Medical Aesthetics practitioner.
“Henry Ford said that anyone who stops learning gets old, and anyone who keeps learning stays young. Because my career in Medical Aesthetics is still just beginning, I consider myself an infant. I can't wait to see how it grows,” Jennifer says.
About Jennifer Pilotte, APRN, AGACNP-C
Jennifer Pilotte, APRN, AGACNP-C, is a nationally certified and state-licensed nurse practitioner and founder of a med spa located within a plastic surgery center in Dallas. Her aesthetic journey started 15 years ago when she began working for a physician-owned med spa while still in high school. After obtaining her nursing degree and working as an ICU nurse while earning her nurse practitioner's degree, she returned to practicing Medical Aesthetics. As an aesthetic NP, she’s immersed herself in the art of injectables and strives to learn from the best in her industry.