Careers in Cosmetic Nursing: Which Direction to Take?

By Crystie Ettridge RN (Cosmetic Nurse)

Over the last decade, the aesthetic profession has seen considerable growth in consumer demand for cosmetic injectable procedures. With more TGA approved cosmetic injectable products available on the Australian market, product cost price remains relatively low so practitioners can meet and drive consumer demand even further.

Clearly this has opened the doors for more cosmetic clinics and cosmetic chains and given rise to new employment opportunities for doctors and nurses. But what exactly do these employment opportunities look like and what are their pros and cons? Crystie Ettridge, Cosmetic Nurse at Academy Face and Body, explores several common career options and the pros and cons of each.

The Cosmetic Nurse Employee

The cosmetic nurse employee works for a cosmetic clinic as a casual, part time or full time employee. Their role may be quite diverse according to the scope of the clinic. For instance, a well-established clinic may offer cosmetic surgical procedures, injectables and dermal therapies, meaning the cosmetic nurse may have a role in each area.  Likewise, a dermatology clinic may incorporate aspects of cosmetic medicine with general dermatology services, giving rise to cosmetic nurses performing minor skin procedures, dermal therapies and cosmetic injectables.

Cosmetic nurses from a theatre background may pursue employment with a plastic/reconstructive surgeon or a facial plastic surgeon where their role is focused on pre-surgical assessment, theatre assisting, recovery and post-surgical care. This is generally coupled with cosmetic injectables and/or dermal therapies that complement cosmetic surgical procedures.

Pros: Having diversity in a job role generally means that work doesn’t stagnate. It gives rise to being able to treat patients more holistically with the opportunity to use a much larger spectrum of nursing skills. Stable employment generally means more security especially when applying for a home loan. Even over COVID lockdowns (hopefully a thing of the past!), many cosmetic clinics that also offered standard medical services remained open and cosmetic nurses were utilised in other areas of medicine rather than stood down.

Since the clinic’s doctor is the nurse’s prescriber and supervisor, it provides a safe and effective mentoring environment where new cosmetic nurses can continually improve their skills and advance to new procedures.

Cons: Role diversity is not everyone’s great desire, and some cosmetic nurses choose to ‘specialise’ in certain areas such as injectables.

The Cosmetic Nurse Contractor

A cosmetic nurse contractor can have a role as diverse as the Cosmetic Nurse Employee but works on a contractual basis i.e., has their own ABN and invoices the clinic on an hourly or per patient basis. In most cases however, the role is focused on cosmetic injectables. In this scenario, the doctor associated with the clinic (usually the clinic owner) is the prescribing doctor in which the nurse works under his/her supervision.

Pros: Working with clinic’s doctor is a safer option for new cosmetic nurses. It also opens opportunity for mentorship, learning new skills and the potential to secure an employment position. It may allow for greater flexibility of working hours especially for working mums having to take time off during school holidays etc.

Cons: As a contractor, you’ll need to fit in with the needs of the clinic and may not always feel as included in the team as employees. There may be times/days where the doctor is away and therefore not available to consult and prescribe impacting your ability to work and earn income.

Contractors also need to be aware of the legalities and tax implications involved in contacting, as does the clinic engaging the contractor. ATO rules are tight and can be complex surrounding contracting so it’s always best to get professional advice before making the move to become a contractor.

The Independent Nurse Injector

An independent nurse injector has their own clinic or contracts cosmetic injectable services to non-medical clinics, they may even offer a home-injecting service (which by the way, is not recommended!)

An independent nurse injector works under the indirect supervision of a covering doctor who usually provides this service to multiple nurse injectors. By law, the covering doctor still needs to consult with, prescribe and approve treatment plans for new patients and they should be within a 15-minute drive (as recommended by the Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia) of the nurse injector – in other words, someone on the other side of the country is definitely not going to meet these requirements!

Pros: Working independently can be an attractive proposition to many cosmetic nurses. This maybe so they can establish their own brand, work flexible hours or for financial reasons.

Cons: There are a few catches to being an independent nurse injector that are sometimes overlooked by new nurses entering the cosmetic field. Firstly, the covering doctor is not always able to provide a mentoring environment and some cases is not available to deal with complications. This can leave new cosmetic injectors in a potentially litigious situation.

Secondly, if for whatever reason the covering doctor decides to not to continue to prescribe for the nurse, it leaves the nurse in a difficult position, essentially putting their business on hold until they find another covering doctor.

Thirdly, laws, legislations and Acts change as we have recently seen with Aphra’s 2022 position statement on Nurses performing cosmetic procedures. This primarily affected Enrolled/Division 2 Nurses, though there is talk amongst the cosmetic profession that this is just the start of further changes enacted by Aphra and/or other regulators.

Need Further Advice?

The Australasian Academy of Cosmetic Dermal Science have been delivering formal education and training in the field of cosmetic nursing and dermal therapies for over 18 years. The college delivers Australia’s only nationally accredited qualification with hands-on training in dermal therapies and cosmetic injectables though the Graduate Diploma of Cosmetic Nursing and Injectables.

If you are considering entering the field of aesthetics, please email or call AACDS to discuss options with one of our course advisors.

Email: enquiries@aacds.edu.au
Phone: 08 9328 6760

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