Dear Nurse Beth,
How can I become a nurse esthetician?
Dear wants to be a nurse esthetician,
It's a great question, with lots of opportunities in the field. RNs are performing more and more nonsurgical aesthetic enhancement procedures in this rapidly growing industry.
RNs who perform cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections, collagen replacement therapy, sclerotherapy, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, photo facials, tattoo removal, and more are cosmetic nurses, also known as plastic surgery nurses.
While some employers prefer to hire nurses with outpatient surgical experience, many hire new grads and train them on the job.
How to become a cosmetics nurse
A common question is, do I need to be an aesthetician to become a cosmetics nurse?
You do not need to be an aesthetician. A registered nurse with specialized training in skincare and cosmetic procedures has surpassed the training of an aesthetician.
You also don’t need a special license. Because cosmetic nursing is a relatively new and rapidly evolving field, an industry-standard training path hasn’t been finalized as it has for most other nursing specialties.
Currently, there is no separate licensing needed for a Registered Nurse to become a cosmetics nurse.
It is within most states’ nursing scope of practice to perform many cosmetic procedures with proper oversight.
You need training on specific procedures. Product manufacturers provide training and even treatment-specific certification in certain procedures, but most states do not require treatment-specific certification or licensing.
Training is also provided on the job under the oversight of a physician. On-the-job training is considered preferable to paid courses by many nurses because it’s free, and learning takes place in a real-life clinical setting.
Many clinics provide multiple services while some clinics specialize in certain procedures, such as IPL photofacials to treat rosacea, light acne scars, tattoo removal, or laser hair removal.
Cosmetic nurses can work for a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or licensed physician who has expanded their services to include aesthetics. Make sure the physicians you work with are board-certified.
A people-friendly personality is a plus. The successful cosmetics nurse must relate to people well, and in some settings, be able to guide/upsell and educate clients about products and services.
How about specialty certification?
Currently, there are no nationally recognized guidelines for nurse aesthetics certifications offered through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
While it’s not necessary to have a separate certification to work in cosmetic nursing voluntary certification can help with career advancement as well as professional development. The Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist (CANS) credential is available through the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board (PSNCB). Obtaining this specialty certification demonstrates competency in carrying out cosmetic procedures.
Eligibility requirements for the CANS exam include an RN license and two years of experience as an RN with one of those years working in facial plastic surgery ENT, plastic/aesthetic surgery, dermatology or ophthalmology. Nurses must re-certify every three years by accruing 45 contact hours through continuing education.
The Dermatology Nurses Association also offers a Dermatology Nurse Certification.
Join the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses (ASPSN) for additional educational resources and information. You can also purchase Plastic Surgery: Scope and Standards of Practice 2nd edition, published by the American Nurses Association (ANA) in conjunction with ASPSN.
Can I start my own business?
Because Botox, collagen and other soft tissue fillers must typically be purchased under a physician’s license, cosmetic nurses need to align with a provider approved by their state who will serve as their Medical Director.
Medical Directors can be plastic surgeons, dermatologists, ophthalmologists or any other licensed physician with an interest in medical aesthetics. Their responsibility is to provide supervision to comply with state laws of medical and nursing practice.
Each state has different regulations when it comes to aesthetics, including what is defined as “medical” and which professional can do which procedure or treatment.
Some nurses have been successful in opening a medspa and hiring a Medical Director. Typically insurance does not reimburse for cosmetic procedures, so there is no complicated billing and insurance to deal with. Consider consulting an attorney and a business consultant if owning your own business is your goal.
Be sure to research the governing laws in your state. Find out:
What is considered a medical procedure (can be performed by MD or under MD oversight only)
Which products can only be obtained by an MD in your state (Dermal fillers, Botox)?
Board of Nursing (BON) regulations in your state to find out what your scope of practice is regarding cosmetic procedures/treatments
Coverage provided by your insurance carrier to make sure you are insured for the specific procedures you intend to perform
Best wishes and hope this helps,