Making the transition from the NHS to aesthetic practice


Our attitudes are changing towards cosmetic consumption. As the aesthetic and non surgical cosmetic market continues to grow, more people are choosing to make the transition into aesthetic practice, often leaving the NHS for an aesthetic career. In this guest blog, psychologist Kimberley Cairns shares tips on what you need to know when considering making the transition to aesthetic practice. For related content, read our guide, ‘How to become an aesthetic practitioner.’

Are you thinking of becoming an aesthetic practitioner? Know your ‘why’

The decision to transition into aesthetics is driven by your own unique motivations, therefore it is important to understand your ‘why’. Why do you want to develop an aesthetic career? Knowing your ‘why’ will help to develop the connection and relationship between aesthetic practice and psychology - a complex, demanding and a growing area of research and discovery. This is in part due to the individual way in which we view our bodies, how we perceive the way others view our bodies, and how these thoughts affect the judgments and assumptions we make about the world around us. Aesthetic practice inherently promotes decisions to make changes to our appearance, regardless of the type of treatment, modality or area of the body/face where the treatment is to be performed. The motivation to become an aesthetic practitioner – the ‘why’ - is one of the single most important factors when it comes to outcomes and satisfaction of any aesthetic career and safe consumer journey.

Get the right training in aesthetics

There are many high quality training providers in aesthetics, however it can be difficult to find them. The use of misleading marketing tools is prevalent by some education and training providers. Sadly, this can lead to financial haemorrhage and immense frustration if your provider fails to meet your expectations. Markedly different standards of training and education create wedges in knowledge that can lead to unconscious incompetence and widens the skills gap, presenting a public health concern. Inclusivity, diversity and equity are fundamental factors in any workforce so it's important your learning journey supports your individual academic needs and makes any reasonable adjustments for you.

You can make sure your training provider is reputable by recommendation, or through a mark of leading verification e.g  VTCT, Qualifi or The JCCP. The JCCP’s education provider register offers quality assured training programmes that are regulated and recognised, with accreditation to provide genuine career development and redress in the unlikely event you find yourself dissatisfied.

Based on the structure and operation of your business, you may also be required to complete mandatory training. This will be the case for CQC, which also requires regular training updates. Providing monitoring, evidence and regularly updating your training through CPPD (continuous professional and personal development) may be a core requirement for your insurance. Hamilton Fraser’s guide to aesthetics training and CPD contains more guidance on this important topic.

Connect with your tribe

Finding and connecting to your community is essential for our innate survival. It is not uncommon for those transitioning from the NHS into aesthetic practice to experience some push back, judgements, stigma or conflict from colleagues, family or friends when you share your new career aspirations. Joining a professional network that truly serves you will create a safe space for you to generate new ideas, navigate your transition and formulate the foundations for a healthy and prosperous career in aesthetics. Attending conferences such as Hamilton Fraser’s Aesthetics Business Conference, CCR, Professional Beauty or Aesthetic Medicine Live give opportunities for strengthening your network and learning about the latest developments, techniques and technologies. Professional bodies such as  the JCCP,  BACN, BCAM, or memberships with the BBC, IPAW ACE or a mindset coach will help you keep anchored to your beliefs and motivations and could help to provide the antidote to unsafe practice, limiting beliefs, toxic mis-information and unreliable sources of communications.

Any fulfilling career is demanding, so self care must be prioritised in your business plan. Investing in your own wellness will provide an immeasurable return. Monitoring any relationship, partnership, collaboration or support network to make sure your needs are being met is imperative to achieve optimum safe delivery in your practice and to achieve ultimate consumer care and satisfaction. There is a vast range of experiences in the aesthetic sector, and best practice can often make people feel ‘better’ in a caring and professional capacity. The right tribe can also make ‘saying no’ and working with vulnerable groups to get the right support for them at the right time a positive and rewarding role.

Thinking outside the box and expanding your network to include other disciplines such as counsellors, physiologists and psychologists or embarking on a mentorship  programme, encourages a dynamic way of reflecting, and working provides a rich opportunity for professional support, accountability and challenge.  

Your tribe is a precious tool, knowing who supplies your products and where they come from should be celebrated - your reputation depends on it. Steer clear of ‘Whatsapp’ or digital contact groups for any services or supplies that you rely on. Remember that the prescribing of prescription medicine requires face to face consultations and all products or devices must be UKCA approved.  

Trends driving the transition to aesthetic practice

  1. Normalising aesthetic procedures: Social media, influencers, and high street brand collaborations are increasing awareness and acceptance of treatments.
  2. Meeting consumer needs: Beauty salons and dental practices are offering adjunct services to their traditional treatment portfolios based on what their existing consumer research and demands tell them.
  3. Clinic consolidation: Clinic chains are becoming more recognisable, with consolidation and expansion offering novel treatment pathways and taking on a larger practitioner (and consumer) base.
  4. Cost of living crisis: Aesthetic practice can offer a flexible solution to top up earnings around family and usual work commitments.
  5. NHS strike action: Medical staff are leaving the NHS due to poor working conditions, seeking a new and rewarding career pathway. 

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