It’s hard to believe my medical aesthetics career began 30 years this month! In reflection, I can credit success to a passion for patient care in this field. But the people who encouraged and supported me at key junctures get my utmost gratitude.
On the professional side, one guiding force was a doctor who believed in me and gave me my start in medical aesthetics; the other was a nurse and collaborator who encouraged me to share my skills with others.
First, there’s Dr. Wayne Carman, a Toronto plastic surgeon I knew from working in the OR at Scarborough General Hospital in the late 80’s. I wondered at the time why they kept putting me in the ‘plastics room’ at the hospital. Apparently, it was Dr. Carman’s doing.
He needed a nurse to help him establish and develop a medical aesthetics practice at his downtown office, and wanted to see if I’d be a good candidate. I guess I passed the test!
I took the job – and this big first step – 30 years ago, on Jan. 2, 1990.
I was 27 and looking for something different and interesting, outside the hospital environment. Though I continued working in OR for another five years, I soon realized that medical aesthetics was going to be my long-term career choice.
Dr. Carman got me fully involved – managing the office, maintaining the operating room, developing policies and assisting with surgical procedures.
I learned a tonne about patient care – seeing patients before, during and after procedures – and that would certainly serve me well down the road.
I didn’t do injections right away. Remember this was back when there were only fillers, before there was even Botox. Nurses doing injections here was virtually unheard of.
A product rep from Inaman (now Allergan) got the ball rolling after she returned from a trip to Europe and told us it was common practice there for nurses to inject in cosmetic clinics.
When Dr. Carman did eventually give me the thumbs up, I was probably one of only five nurses in all of Toronto doing medical aesthetics injections.
I fell in love with the practice, and got fully involved in training and learning about the industry.
My reputation as a nursing pioneer opened opportunities to expand my professional horizons. I lectured on surgical and non-surgical procedures in Canada and the U.S.
I was on the executive board of American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses for five years, then was honoured to become the first Canadian president of ASPSN.
For nine year I was editor of the ISPAN Plastic Surgical Nursing journal – which gave me valuable experience in researching and writing – and in 2009 helped start the Canadian Society Plastic Surgical Nurses.
After 15 years with Dr. Carman and 9 years with another plastic surgeon, it was time for another change.
Time to do it myself, to set up my own practice.
Scary? Oh yes.
But I was confident in my abilities by this time. And had tremendous encouragement from my husband. Greg generously supported me with his business knowledge and invaluable time in renting and renovating an office close to our home in Thornhill.
The entrepreneurial nurses we train today will know about the anxious excitement in going it alone outside of a hospital or clinic.
TH Medical Aesthetics opened in April 2014. It’s been a blast from Day One., and thanks to hard work and a great staff it’s become a pretty good business. It was so immediately satisfying I figured that managing my own clinic with my own patients would be the pinnacle of a successful working career.
Enter Jeanine Harrison.
Jeanine, as many of you know, is a trusted colleague at THMA Consulting, as well as a close confidant and dear friend. But she was a total stranger three years ago when she asked to meet with me.
I’m so glad I agreed to do that.
As a nurse practitioner looking to expand her skill set. Jeanine had just completed some medical aesthetics training. But she wasn’t confident about going into practice. Over lunch, I shared some of my thoughts on medical aesthetics with her, and she accepted my invite to come to the THMA clinic and observe my work.
Like a sponge, she absorbed things like patient assessments and product knowledge and how to run a clinic. Jeanine only started injecting four months later, bit she was good. I brought her in as an injector and as the on-site medical director at TH Medical Aesthetics.
All this time, Jeanine was poking at me, encouraging me to educate other nurses and doctors, telling me I should set up and develop a training program.
Initially, I wasn’t all that interested.
But I did see areal need for in-depth, research-based medical aesthetics training. So with Jeanine support, I created the THMA Consulting Training and Preceptorship Program. Jeanine, of course, is now a policy developer as well as an expert trainer and mentor in several of our courses.
So yes, I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. Or, without Greg Hotta and Dr. Wayne Carman. I hope everyone is fortunate enough to have such wonderful companions on their own yellow brick road.
No way I would’ve have imagined 30 years ago being in this position today of training medical professional through Ontario and across Canada. Or that medical aesthetics would become such a respected and desirable medical field.
From humble beginnings three decades ago, the medical aesthetics has expanded and grown exponentially.
I’m proud of how many nurses are now choosing this as a career, and how many entrepreneurial medical professionals are creating and building their own successful practices today.
We’ve come a long way!
Collectively, we’ve still got work to do as a profession. Especially in maintaining ethics and high standards. The popularity of medical aesthetics has resulted in fly-by-night operations and unqualified practitioners who don’t follow College protocols and put patient safety at risk.
That’s why we became the first training company to raise the bar and include Ethical Practices and Business Standards in our Foundation Courses. We’re not the only company doing that now. And that’s a good thing.
I am glad to see so many professionals now on the same page, listing professionalism and safety as priorities in medical aesthetics practices.
Ultimately, it’s our patients who benefit from high standards of care, something I learned first-hand many years ago, and take to heart every day at work and in training now.
What a wonderful and fulfilling journey it’s been!