Medical Aesthetics is a branch of medicine that is uniquely immune to many of the most concerning issues plaguing the nursing profession today, causing more and more nurses and HCPs to pursue aesthetic training and to take refuge in this rapidly growing specialty. And as they do, they are reenvisioning the terms of direct care through an entirely different lens. But to understand how this is the case and what this lens reveals requires an examination of the nursing crisis itself.
A Trifecta of Corrosive Factors
Direct-care nursing has fallen on hard times. Thanks to a trifecta of corrosive factors—an efficiency-at-all-costs model of managed care, excessive profit incentivization, and the pressures of the global pandemic—direct-care nursing and those who comprise it are now in need of emergency care.
This emergency care can not come quickly enough. In a New York Times opinion piece headlined, Hospital Greed is Destroying Our Nurses, the paper draws on a combination of investigative reporting and firsthand accounts to document and chronicle the intolerable working conditions direct-care nurses are increasingly facing.
In it, nurses report being kicked, punched, called names, and being cursed at. But the point of the piece is not abuse by patients. That, say nurses, is not the problem. The problem is that hospitals and many other clinical environments have become so exploitive that direct-care nurses are experiencing unprecedented levels of burnout and quitting in droves.
“I Cannot Do This Anymore.”
American hospitals have intentionally understaffed nurses to maximize profits—long before the pandemic. “What the hospital industry doesn’t want you to know,” asserts the Times piece, “is that there have never been more licensed nurses in America. Hospitals just aren’t hiring them. There’s not a shortage of nurses. There’s just a shortage of nurses willing to work under those conditions.”
The direct-care model of nursing has become one dominated by expectations, restrictions, and demands that strain the credulity of those outside it. Things have gotten so bad that thousands of nurses have taken to social media with a common refrain: “I cannot do this anymore.” And more than 40% of nurses say they are considering leaving the profession to escape the following conditions:
- Flex staffing. The practice of staffing only the bare minimum of nurses required for any given time of the day, with the result that nurse-to-patient ratios are shockingly low and—nurses say—contributing to patient deaths.
- Excessively long shifts and unpredictable hours. Nurses routinely work 10-15 hour shifts and are called in without warning to cover staff shortages that barely dent the problem.
- Being treated like automatons. Nurses are expected to function like machines—to undertake a dizzying and mounting number of complex tasks without any reduction in efficiency or increase in error. (An impossibility, says experts.)
- Loss of professional autonomy. When nurses’ “marching orders” are driven by profit considerations (and the algorithms that guide them) rather than human judgment in response to real-time patient needs, nurses are denied the right and opportunity to exercise professional judgment. This is disempowering to nurses and often puts patients at grave risk.
- Demoralizing, dehumanizing work environments. Nurses describe increasingly bureaucratized environments where staff and patients alike seem to be reduced to numbers on a balance sheet rather than full-fledged human beings in need of warmth, encouragement, appreciation, and support.
An Impossible Choice
Almost all nurses suffering from the nursing crisis (or what might accurately be called the nurses’ crisis) entered direct-care nursing for a reason: They wanted to work personally with patients, feeling this would be the most rewarding form of nursing they could pursue.
And this hasn’t changed. Nurses still want to work personally with patients, but not at the expense of their mental health. This has confronted many nurses with what can feel like an impossible choice: either leave the profession entirely (and run all the risks attendant to making a dramatic career pivot) or move into a non-patient-facing healthcare adjacency.
A Third Way
But for many nurses, this is a false choice. There is a third way to reenvision the direct-care nursing model. This third way lies in aesthetic medicine—a specialty uniquely immune to the problems plaguing hospital settings and many other clinical environments in which exploitation of nurses is increasingly common. In short, making a move to aesthetic medicine allows nurses to continue to work personally with patients without enduring the indignities of direct care.
And because medical aesthetic training builds on nurses’ existing skill sets, nurses can quickly and affordably become qualified to make a career pivot that all but promises a new and hopeful way forward with the following benefits:
- Manageable nurse-to-patient ratios. Aesthetic medicine is practiced far outside managed care models and is devoid of the incentivization and pandemic pressures of almost other direct-care nursing environments. This means an end to overwhelming numbers of patients and responsibilities.
- Reasonable hours and predictable shifts. Unlike hospitals that are necessarily open 24/7 every day of the year, aesthetic medicine practices operate almost exclusively on 8-hour workdays (give or take) Monday through Friday. Weekends and holidays off are not the exception but rather the norm, which immediately restores the work/life balance that so many nurses have lost.
- Recovery of professional autonomy and empowerment. Because aesthetic nurses personally perform aesthetic procedures, they are encouraged and required to make professional judgments with every patient they treat. And because aesthetic nurses must make at least as many aesthetic judgments as medical ones, their work remains forever fresh, individualized, and engaging.
- The opportunity to build meaningful relationships with patients. Aesthetic procedures must be informed by patient preferences and must be routinely maintained. This means that aesthetic nurses must work closely with patients to accurately understand their needs and create customized treatment plans. It also means they have the opportunity to build relationships over time as patients return for maintenance treatments—potentially over the course of decades.
- Mood-boosting work environments. Medical aesthetic treatments are luxury-market expenditures made almost exclusively by those with discretionary income-seeking an upscale experience. For this reason, the atmosphere of aesthetic clinics, med spas, and beauty bars is the exact opposite of the cold, impersonal sterility that characterizes hospital settings. Instead, aesthetic nurses can expect to work in environments deliberately designed to feel warm, inviting, and welcoming.
As seen through the lens of medical aesthetics, it’s readily apparent why direct-care nursing can be conceived on entirely new and favorable terms.
AAAMS Paves the Path to a Happier, Healthier, Direct-Care Nursing Career
AAAMS (The American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery) is the premier, fully-accredited platform for helping nurses pave the path to a happier, healthier career in direct care. AAAMS delivers world-class instruction, a comprehensive and engaging curriculum, and an exclusive Aesthetics Network to support nurses’ professional success. This network is a professional platform similar to LinkedIn and provides instant access to:
- Ongoing peer support
- Mentorship opportunities
- Job referrals and listings
- Industry news and events
- AAAMS discounts
- …and much more
If you’d like to learn more about AAAMS and how we can support your move into the rewarding specialty of aesthetic medicine, visit us to explore our courses and everything the Aesthetics Network has to offer. Since 2006, we’ve successfully trained more than 5,000 nurses and other HCPs worldwide and would love to welcome you to our growing community of aesthetics practitioners.
We look forward to training with you!