Switching Careers: How One Nurse Went from ICU to Medical Aesthetics Practice
Molly Boudreault, ACNP-BC, shares 9 tips on how to change jobs.
Driven to provide more personal care to her patients, Molly Boudreault took her advanced nurse practitioner credential out of the intensive care unit (ICU) and into a career in Medical Aesthetics. Today she is the lead laser and aesthetic nurse practitioner at a practice she co-founded with her husband, a board-certified plastic surgeon. Molly shares expert tips from her experience on how to become an aesthetic nurse and the key lessons she learned along the way.
“I got into nursing because I want to care for people in need and develop meaningful relationships with them,” she says. As an ICU nurse, she found herself wondering what happened to the patients after they were discharged: How were their families and loved ones doing? “I realized that what I desired was a traditional family-like practice, where your patients become an extension of your family,” she explains.
“Aesthetics was a perfect way for me to blend my personal interest in the aesthetics industry with my desire to have deep meaningful relationships with patients.”
1. Aesthetic nursing and traditional nursing require the same core skills.
What industry outsiders might find surprising is that many of the characteristics that make great nurses in hospitals also make great aesthetic practitioners, according to Molly. That includes maintaining high energy, paying attention to details, staying calm in stressful situations, and most importantly, she adds, making patient safety their number one priority.
2. Some of the best Medical Aesthetics training opportunities start with networking.
When Molly started looking into a career in aesthetics, she found just a handful of websites that offered very general advice. What ended up being more helpful was social media at the time, specifically LinkedIn®. “It was an easy way for me to connect to practitioners who were willing to help the next generation of aesthetic nurses,” she says. “I asked a few experts in my community if they would sit down with me over coffee and offer advice on entering the aesthetics space. It was valuable for me to learn what they thought were important qualities in candidates who were applying for aesthetic nursing positions.”
3. Shadowing to learn how to become an aesthetic healthcare provider opened doors.
After taking a 13-week course online, which gave her a general education in aesthetics, it was shadowing a medical doctor at a med spa that ultimately provided the best experience for Molly. “This experience gave me a good foundation in aesthetics. Even though I wasn’t treating patients, I was able to participate in conversations and learn protocols, treatment dosing, and anatomy,” she says. Because she appreciated Molly’s passion for aesthetics and dedicated quest for knowledge, the physician she shadowed ended up asking Molly to join her staff.
4. Make sure to find reputable Medical Aesthetics training programs.
Since not all training programs are equal in quality, Molly advises checking references. “I would ask if they had prior students I could speak to before I signed up for it,” she says. She would also look for industry opinion leaders and sign up for their courses. Molly recommends also taking advantage of the free training that’s available through reputable sources.
5. Aesthetic healthcare providers don’t stop learning.
To help gain more knowledge as an aesthetic nurse, Molly did a lot of self-educating—watching and rewatching videos online, shadowing practitioners, taking cadaver courses, and reading anatomy books. But the learning didn’t stop there. “If you ask the best aesthetic nurses or physicians in the industry, they’ll tell you they’re constantly learning and growing,” Molly says. “The aesthetics industry is ever-expanding and ever-changing, so if you’re not doing that, your techniques will grow outdated very quickly. It’s also important to know anatomy backward and forward,” she adds.
6. Being a self-starter is a top trait employers look for.
Employers are obviously looking for someone who can be a great aesthetic practitioner, but according to Molly, they’re also looking for a self-starter. “It takes time and grit to grow your clientele, even if you’re stepping into a busy office,” she says. “Landing the job,” she adds, “is just the start. Make sure to do whatever you can to show employers that you’re self-motivated, including that you put time into studying and making yourself as good of a candidate as possible.”
7. Be the kind of provider you’d want to see as a patient.
As a patient many years ago, Molly admits to finding aesthetics a little intimidating. “All these websites had really beautiful models, and the offices had stunningly gorgeous practitioners who had perfect everything—it made me feel a little bit self-conscious,” she says. It also showed her that the industry was lacking a fundamental understanding that people who have aesthetic concerns are sharing a very sensitive part of themselves, and it has shaped her goals as a nurse practitioner. “My role as a caregiver in this space isn’t to show people an image of perfection per se,” she says. “It’s for me to take their hand and be like, ‘hey, we all have these aesthetic concerns, nobody’s perfect. Let’s figure out what’s really bothering you and see if there’s anything we can do to address it.’” When she built her practice, Molly made sure to focus on achieving desired results. “I paid more attention to the compassionate side of aesthetics, showing patients that we’re all vulnerable.”
8. Patient consultations are key to patient satisfaction.
During an initial consultation, Molly reviews the patient’s health history to make sure they’re good candidates for treatments they may be seeking, and whether their expectations are reasonable. In addition, she determines whether or not their concerns are something she’s able to address effectively as a nurse practitioner—or if their concern would be better managed by a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist. That’s how she ensures that patients get the desired outcome, which is always the ultimate goal. If all those things check out, Molly makes sure they understand the risks and benefits of a treatment she’s recommending, and she takes time to address their concerns.
9. Make time to build trust to develop long-lasting relationships.
Molly’s days are filled with new patient consultations, performing facial injections, laser treatments, body contouring, and microneedling—and spending a lot of time on the phone. She always follows up with patients to make sure they’re doing well in their recovery process. “I think it’s important to be available to patients 24/7, especially new patients, to build trust,” she says. “I listen to them, let them know it’s normal to have questions and concerns, and that I’m here for them.”
If Molly inspired you to explore more expert tips on becoming an aesthetic healthcare provider, check out Spark’s mobile-optimized resource for Beginners Considering a Career in Medical Aesthetics.
These examples are intended to provide information and inspiration for your journey and are not a recommendation or endorsement.
About Molly Boudreault
Molly Boudreault, ACNP-BC, attended Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate and graduate education, finishing at the top of her class. Molly began her aesthetic career in 2014 and is now the lead laser and aesthetic nurse practitioner at her own practice.