Nurse Types / Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner
Aesthetic medicine is a specialty that has gained exponential popularity within the past two decades. Research shows that the aesthetics injectables market will continue to grow at least 12% per year for the next 5 years. As the interest in beauty and anti-aging trends increase, so will the demand for aesthetic practitioners.
Working as an aesthetic nurse practitioner is a dream for some nurses, but this highly competitive specialty takes dedication, experience, and sometimes the right connection. Keep reading to learn more about this niche role and what you can expect as an aesthetic nurse practitioner.
- What is an aesthetic nurse practitioner?
- What do aesthetic nurse practitioners do?
- Where do aesthetic nurse practitioners work?
- What are closely related fields?
- How do you become an aesthetic nurse practitioner in 3 steps?
- What are the additional requirements of aesthetic nurse practitioners?
- What are the salary and career outlooks for aesthetic nurse practitioners?
What is an aesthetic nurse practitioner?
An aesthetic nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice registered nurse who has received specialized training to provide cosmetic procedures to patients. Depending on the practice, services may be limited to facials and fillers. Aesthetic NPs may also assist plastic surgeons in more invasive surgical procedures.
Qualities of a successful aesthetic nurse practitioner
- Personality. Your bedside manner must be personable and professional. Since you’re consulting with patients before their procedure and hopefully building a long-term relationship, they need to feel like they can trust you.
- Clinical judgment. NPs possess advanced education and training. Even when working under the guidance of a physician you are usually given autonomy to make decisions. If you are running your own practice, patient outcomes depend on your judgment.
- Expert anatomical understanding. Injecting toxins into someone’s face requires expert knowledge. Your anatomy training goes beyond the basics to include the nerves and vessels below the skin.
What do aesthetic nurse practitioners do?
Aesthetic NPs have a unique opportunity to function as an assistant to a physician or surgeon or work autonomously in their own practice setting. Your advanced degree allows you to provide the following:
- Consultation and interviewing before a procedure
- Pre and post-operative care
- Hands-on assistance with surgical procedures
- Follow-up assessment to monitor recovery
- Injection or administration of aesthetic and cosmetic services
If you own your practice you may take an even larger role as you provide most, if not all, services. Depending on the size of the practice, you may schedule appointments, perform consultations, and provide the service.
A day in the life of an aesthetic nurse practitioner
Let’s consider you’re an aesthetic NP working in a thriving medical spa with a full staff. There will be receptionists to answer calls, field emails, and schedule or confirm appointments. Additional medical staff such as a medical assistant or nurse may complete intake histories or vital signs.
Your role as the NP will likely be to consult with the patient, perform a medical screening, or prepare them for their procedure. You may provide education, describe what to expect from the procedure, and offer discharge instructions.
If you have your own clients, their complete care may be under your direction as you listen to their goals, examine their skin, and prescribe the best treatment for them. You will then provide the service such as botox or collagen injections. You will continue to follow-up with your patients and monitor and adjust further treatments based on their results.
Regardless of the setting, aesthetics usually operate on a 9-5 schedule. Medical spas and outpatient clinics are not open on holidays and rarely on weekends. Your patient encounters are always scheduled so you know what to expect and can prepare accordingly.
Common conditions treated by aesthetic nurse practitioners
The type of services and procedures provided by aesthetic NPs is wide and varied. It will depend on the type of practice. A cosmetic office that offers surgical procedures may employ aesthetic NPs to assist with the following under the supervision of a surgeon:
- Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
- Hair transplants
- Breast augmentation or reconstruction
- Mohs surgery
- Burn repairs
Aesthetic NPs who either own their practice or provide non-invasive services may offer:
- Dermal fillers
- Botox or other neurotoxin injections
- Laser hair removal
- Chemical peels
- Tattoo removal
Where do aesthetic nurse practitioners work?
Aesthetic medicine normally does not take place in an acute care setting. Hospitals that provide plastic surgery are likely necessary for improved functionality or quality of life, not luxury. Aesthetic NPs will most likely work in outpatient settings like:
- Medical spas
- Dermatology offices
- Outpatient surgical settings
- Plastic & cosmetic surgery clinics
- Privately-owned medical offices
What are closely related fields?
Aesthetic NPs have a desire for beauty and to build the confidence of their clients. You may choose a surgical specialty that offers patients improved quality of life through weight-loss procedures or facial reconstruction. Similar specialties include:
- Plastic surgery nurse
- Aesthetic/cosmetic nurse
- Ophthalmic nurse
- Otorhinolaryngology (ENT) nurse
- Bariatric nurse practitioner
How do you become an aesthetic nurse practitioner in 3 steps?
Step 1 – Become a registered nurse
The first step to any nurse practitioner specialty is to become a registered nurse.
Earn a degree
A nurse must start with either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Nurses who already possess an ADN can easily obtain their BSN in about a year through an RN to BSN program.
If you have a degree in an unrelated field you can earn an Accelerated Bachelor of Science (ABSN). This usually takes 1-2 years to complete.
Pass the NCLEX exam
Obtaining your associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing prepares you for the NCLEX. This exam tests your ability to apply nursing concepts into practice. Passing the NCLEX allows you to begin working as a registered nurse.
Step 2 – Accumulate experience
Helpful skills and experience
It is recommended to work for at least a year or two in nursing before advancing your credentials. Real-world experience as a nurse with patients is crucial to developing critical thinking skills and nursing judgment.
Breaking into the aesthetic industry isn’t easy, especially as a new nurse. Don’t give up on your dream if you aren’t able to find a job in aesthetics immediately. It may take a personal connection, an internship, or simply luck to land a job in this competitive field.
Aesthetic nurse practitioners often begin as a nurse injector or another role within aesthetics. Some practices may agree to train nurses without additional certifications or degrees. This experience is vital before you continue to devote time and money to an advanced degree.
Changing your specialty to an aesthetic nurse practitioner
Nurses with acute care experience such as in the ICU, emergency room, or med-surg are valued in aesthetics because of their ability to assess, manage complications, and respond if an emergency occurs.
Aesthetic nursing is vastly different in terms of the patient population from most nursing specialties but your time management, judgment, and communication skills will continue to be an asset.
Expert advice from nurses like you
Step 3 – Obtain additional education and certifications
Advance your education
Becoming a nurse practitioner requires a graduate degree of a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). The BSN to MSN program is often the fastest and most cost-effective path to becoming an NP.
You will likely choose a Family Nurse Practitioner program that prepares you for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification exam to obtain your APRN license.
If you aren’t already immersed in the aesthetic medicine world, getting certified is your next step. Many spas and cosmetic institutes provide hands-on training.
- American Med Spa Association offers injection training for medical professionals.
- Esthetic Skin Institute offers accredited courses in cities around the country.
- The American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery (AAAMS) offers accredited beginner-level courses on botox and fillers up to advanced liposuction and rhinoplasty training and more.
For aesthetic NPs working in plastic surgery centers or providing more advanced procedures, the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board (PSNCB) is for nurses who have at least 1,000 hours in the specialty and work in collaboration with a Board-Certified physician. The two certification routes include:
- Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist (CANS)
- Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN)
What are the additional requirements of aesthetic nurse practitioners?
Aesthetic nursing is a new and evolving field. Cosmetic treatments continue to grow and revolutions in anti-aging, beauty, and weight loss are highly sought after.
Aesthetic NPs must stay on the cutting-edge of treatments and techniques. This likely involves additional certifications, conferences, and continuing education.
What are the salary and career outlooks for aesthetic nurse practitioners?
Salaries in aesthetic nursing vary greatly. California pays the most, with aesthetic nurse practitioners making an average of $102,571. This is below the average NP salary in the US of $118,040 in 2021. Aesthetic nurse practitioners who are ambitious to open their own practices have the opportunity to make a higher income based on their location, certifications, and hours.
Nurse practitioners are among the highest-paid nursing specialties and are in high demand. The growth of NPs is expected to increase by 45% this decade.
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Aesthetic nursing is often a fulfilling career. If you are seeking this specialty you likely have a vested interest in beauty and making others feel their best. The benefits of aesthetic nursing include:
- Stable weekday hours often without weekend requirements
- Appointments are scheduled with little deviation
- Work environments are often calm, welcoming, and luxurious
- Services are elective and insurance usually isn’t involved
- Dress code is often fashionable or scrub attire
- Patients are pleasant and healthy enough to receive services
The transition from interested student to practicing aesthetic nurse practitioner requires a generous commitment of time and effort. Though a highly competitive specialty, as the aesthetic and cosmetic industry continues to grow, there will be a demand for more aesthetic nurse practitioners.
Whether you desire to be a part of an upscale medical spa or dream of opening your own one-nurse practice, this specialty offers a unique opportunity not found in other areas of nursing.
If you’re starting at square one with the intention of becoming an aesthetic nurse practitioner, our nurse advice forum is the perfect place to learn from other nurses. Incredible Health’s career resources can also help you plan and prepare for your nursing goals.
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- “American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery Courses.” aaams.net. Accessed July 11, 2022.
- “From Extreme to Mainstream: The Future of Aesthetics Injectables.” mckinsey.net. Accessed July 18, 2022.
- “Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board.” psncb.org. Accessed July 11, 2022.
- “Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner Salary.” ziprecruiter.com. Accessed July 11, 2022.
- “Why Are So Many Nurses Making the Move to Aesthetic Medicine?” aaams.net. Accessed July 11, 2022.
- “Foundations of Injection Anatomy and Practice.” americanmedspa.org. Accessed July 12, 2022.
- “Esthetic Skin Institute.” esiw.com. Accessed July 12, 2022.
- “What is An Aesthetic Practitioner?” denovaresearch.com. Accessed July 18, 2022.