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What is an Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner? (Answered by an NP)


Written By: Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C

Do you like making patient’s dreams come true? Specifically, in regards to their physical appearance? Have you ever wondered, what it would be like to practice aesthetic medicine? If you answered yes to any of the questions, then I would consider the career of an aesthetic nurse practitioner. Below, I will provide information on how to become an aesthetic NP. This includes information regarding education requirements, the cost of education, and certifications that may be needed or are recommended. I will also discuss specifics about the job including typical hours worked, settings worked, and salary.


What Does An Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner Do?


So, what does an anesthetic nurse practitioner do? An anesthetic NP may work in various settings, including private practice, clinic setting, and med spas. They deliver care to patients who wish to make cosmetic changes to their appearance. The aesthetic NP can do this alongside a physician, or they may own their practice. The setting where the aesthetic NP works directly impacts their day-to-day routine and responsibilities. Their patients visit them for a cosmetic issue, and the aesthetic NP will do what they can to treat the problem area. This is done through various medications, treatments, and procedures. Typical aesthetic nurse practitioner duties include administering botox, performing laser surgery to remove a tattoo, or giving a chemical peel to help with a skin problem. They may also assist with surgical procedures and care for the patient after. Regardless of the setting worked or responsibilities, it is important the aesthetic NP and the patient communicate and ensure the patient receives the treatment and care requested.


What Skills And Abilities Are Needed To Work As An Aesthetic NP?


There is a broad range of skills needed to become an aesthetic NP. Typically required aesthetic nurse practitioner skills include interpersonal skills and clinical skills, which are essential in ensuring the best care is provided to the patient. Below, I have compiled some of the skills needed to be a successful and competent aesthetic NP.

1. Strong Communication Skills: Effective communication is vital in delivering healthcare and ensuring the needs of the patient are met. This not only includes communicating well with the patient but also the staff who is assisting in their care. This is very important for aesthetic NPs because many of the services they provide are elective, therefore communication is key to ensure the patient receives the treatment/service requested. It is also important the communication is strong to make sure the patient has realistic expectations related to the service they receive.
2. Teamwork: Teamwork ties hand in hand with effective communication. A key component in the delivery of healthcare is teamwork. This includes communication and collaboration between the receptionist and clinical staff, nurse, NP, and all other people assisting in the coordination of care. This is important in aesthetic medicine because all of the providers need to know the service or treatment the patient is receiving upon arrival to the clinic as many different services are provided. You do not want to give the wrong treatment or service to the wrong patient.
3. Personal Development: As an aesthetic NP, having the desire to grow as a clinician is essential to staying current with practicing trends, skills, and treatment plans. This is done through goal setting and re-evaluation of those goals at least annually, if not more frequently. You also need to have a desire to continue to learn through the attendance of conferences and other continuing education courses specifically related to aesthetic medicine to ensure the delivery of evidence-based medicine specifically.

As I stated above, there are also clinical skills needed to become an aesthetic nurse practitioner. For the most part, there are certification courses available to teach these skills as they are not typically learned in NP school. Some examples of these skills include:

1. Botox
2. Dermal Fillers
3. Sclerotherapy
4. Cosmetic Laser Treatment
5. Chemical Peels



Where Do Aesthetic Nurse Practitioners Work?


The aesthetic nurse practitioner primarily works in a clinic setting such as a private practice or a medical spa. It is rare for the aesthetic NP to work inpatient. However, some procedures may have to be performed in the outpatient surgery department at a local hospital. This is usually done to ensure appropriate equipment and personnel are available.

In states that authorize the NP to have full practice authority, the aesthetic NP may own their practice. This opens up multiple opportunities for the aesthetic NP to establish themselves individually and build their practice. For more information, visit your state board of nursing.


What Is The Typical Work Schedule For An Aesthetic NP?


An aesthetic nurse practitioner primarily works in a private practice setting or medical spa; however, they can work for a larger organization. Since they primarily work in the outpatient setting, they work Monday through Friday, and their hours are typically daytime, such as 8 am to 5 pm. They also are not generally on-call, but that may vary from practice to practice.


What Is The Difference Between Aesthetic NP And Aesthetic Nurse?


The registered aesthetic nurse can perform or assist with multiple aesthetic or cosmetic procedures. Per their scope of practice, they can perform some procedures. These procedures can include Botox, simple laser treatment, and facials. A lot of times, this is dependent on the organization or practice where they work. They must also complete certification courses and attend conferences to demonstrate competence in many skills. The aesthetic RN may also assist the NP during more advanced or complex procedures or assist the physician during surgery. They must demonstrate effective and efficient communication skills with both the patient and medical team to ensure safe and appropriate delivery of aesthetic care.

An anesthetic NP has a much broader scope of practice due to more extensive education and the passing of a board certification exam. This broader scope of practice allows for more responsibilities than the aesthetic RN. They can assess, diagnose and treat the patient, which includes performing procedures and prescribing medications. This leads to opportunities to become trained and educated on different procedures and treatment plans compared to the aesthetic RN. Just like the aesthetic RN, communication is a key component of their job. The services they provide are typically elective. Therefore, the aesthetic NP must communicate with the patient to fully understand their expectations and explain if they are realistic and achievable. The aesthetic NP must also communicate efficiently and effectively with the RN and all others involved in the patient's care to ensure the patient is receiving the best care possible. In some states, aesthetic NPs can also own their practice, allowing complete autonomy to the decisions made in practice and with the patient.


Pros And Cons Of Becoming An Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner


There are many pros to becoming an aesthetic nurse practitioner. First, the hours are great. You typically work business hours with no weekends or holidays. You are also not typically on-call. You also get to work closely with your patients to help meet their cosmetic and aesthetic needs. This can be considered a challenge or a con for many people. However, if you are competent in performing the necessary skills, most patients leave happy and satisfied with their treatment. Lastly, there are numerous opportunities to build on your knowledge set, learn new skills, and achieve new certifications. This leads to continuous growth and opportunities in the field of aesthetic medicine.

I do not believe there are cons to becoming an aesthetic NP but instead points to consider before leaping into aesthetic medicine. First, you primarily work in a clinic setting. This may be viewed as a pro for most people, but there are NPs who want to assist with more surgeries or care for patients in the acute care setting. Also, most patients have these treatments or procedures down electively, which affects their physical appearance. Therefore, they may be more critical and quick to judge the outcome. You must be patient, communicate effectively with the patient, and inform the patient of realistic expectations following their procedures.


How Long Does It Take To Become An Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner?


It takes several years to become an aesthetic nurse practitioner. On average, it takes 6-8 years to become an APRN and then two years of experience before sitting for a certified aesthetic nurse specialist exam. It is important to note that it is not required to sit for the exam. Some jobs will hire you without this certification but require you to complete other certification courses (i.e., Botox, Dermal Fillers, Laser Treatment, etc.) in the first 1-2 years employed.

In more detail, the first step of becoming an aesthetic NP is obtaining your BSN, which typically takes four years. After receiving your BSN, you may apply directly to graduate school or choose to work 1-2 years before going to graduate school. Once in graduate school, you will have another 2-3 years, depending on if you attend full time vs. part-time and if your program offers courses in the summer. After graduating with your MSN, one or two more years may be added if you choose to complete your DNP. After becoming a licensed APRN, if you want to become a certified aesthetic NP, it is recommended you become a certified aesthetic nurse specialist. To obtain this certification, you must work two years with one of the core specialties and sit for the exam.


How Much Does It Cost To Become An Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner?


The cost of becoming an aesthetic nurse practitioner is a vast range. For example, the cost of obtaining your BSN can range from $40,000-$200,000. This number is influenced by multiple factors, such as the location and status of attendance. Choosing a public university and paying in-state tuition will be cheaper than choosing a private college or paying out-of-state tuition for a public university. Attending full-time vs. part-time will also affect cost. Lastly, the cost may be affected if you complete an associate’s degree nursing (ADN) program first and then complete an RN-to-BSN program. Ultimately, it does not matter how you achieve your BSN. You must have it before applying to graduate school.

After completing your BSN, the next step is to apply for graduate school. The average cost for a BSN-to-MSN program is $81,810 to $185,280. If you choose to pursue your DNP and not MSN, the average cost of a BSN-to-DNP program is $26,490 to $254,260. Lastly, if you complete your MSN and decide later to complete your DNP, the average cost of an MSN-to-DNP program is 17,660 to $169,000. Similar factors influence the cost of these programs as your BSN. Attending full-time or part-time and attending private school vs. public school will all influence the cost.

There are multiple certifications available to those becoming an aesthetic nurse practitioner and all of these certifications cost money. It is important to note that some employers will cover the cost of these certifications or reimburse you once you pass the certification exam or complete the course.


Step-By-Step Process Of Becoming An Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner


To become an aesthetic nurse practitioner, there are steps that need to be achieved. Below, I have provided a step-by-step required in becoming an aesthetic nurse practitioner.

1. Graduate with your BSN: You must complete your BSN before applying for graduate school. There are a few pathways to complete this degree. You can complete the traditional four-year BSN program or obtain your ADN and then complete an RN-to-BSN program. Either path will lead to becoming a BSN-prepared nurse.

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN examination: Before you can practice as a nurse, you must pass the NCLEX.

3. Apply for RN state licensure: Once you pass the NCLEX-RN apply for state licensure in the state, you will be able to practice.

4. I recommend you gain RN experience: This step is not required, but I believe it is essential to gain the confidence, knowledge, and skills necessary to be a nurse. This helps lay the foundation for you to become an excellent NP. It also enables you to decide what specialty you are interested in for NP school. I recommend gaining both inpatient RN experience as well as RN experience specific to aesthetic care. The aesthetic RN experience will most likely occur in a clinic setting. Both will help your nursing skills, but the aesthetic RN experience will help set you apart when you are applying for aesthetic NP jobs.

5. Apply to NP school: Once you have selected the specialty you wish to pursue, the next step is to apply for NP schools. Make sure you look at pre-requisites to ensure you complete all requirements before applying.

6. Graduate from NP School: You must graduate from NP school before sitting for the board certification exam.

7. Pass the board certification exam for your specialty: You must pass the board certification exam pertinent to your specialty in NP school before applying for your state NP license.

8. Apply for APRN state licensure: After you pass your board certification exam, you can officially receive your state license. It is important to note that you must hold an active RN license to obtain an APRN license. You then must keep both the RN and APRN licenses active while practicing as an NP.

9. Apply for Aesthetic nurse practitioner jobs: You can technically start applying for NP jobs before graduation. While it is possible to start an aesthetic nurse practitioner job without prior experience, it is recommended that you have experience as an aesthetic RN or NP experience. Regarding the NP experience, it is recommended you have spent 1000 hours or two years with a physician in one of the four core specialties and then complete the certification exam. I discuss this in more detail below.

10. Work towards and complete additional certifications: As I mentioned in step 9, there is a certification specific to becoming an aesthetic NP, but it does take time to achieve. You can also become an aesthetic RN, which can be accomplished before or while you’re in NP school, which may better your chances of landing your dream job after graduation.

11. Lastly, if you wish to get a terminal degree, you can complete your DNP. You can achieve this by attending a BSN-DNP program, or you can complete an MSN-DNP program. Either way, the DNP may open the door to new opportunities and leadership roles. This may include teaching at the graduate nursing level or better pay.


Top Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner Programs


There are no specific nurse practitioner programs or residency/fellowship programs for those interested in becoming an aesthetic nurse practitioner. There are, however, courses, webinars, and educational opportunities to gain the skills necessary to become an aesthetic NP.

International Association for Physicians in Aesthetic Medicine (IAPAM): This organization offers courses and learning opportunities for aesthetic NPs to build on their skills and knowledge. The programs are designed to better prepare the NP for the aesthetic procedures through hands-on training and certification courses. This includes Botox, laser hair removal, tattoo removal, dermal filler, microdermabrasion, chemical peel training, and other programs penitent to aesthetic care.

Other certification programs offer courses similar to the IAPAM. It is vital that once you determine the services you wish to provide your patients as an aesthetic NP, you find the appropriate courses to prepare you and help you in mastering these skills.


Recommended Certifications To Enhance Your Job Role As An Aesthetic NP


There are a few certifications that an aesthetic NP can complete to enhance their job role. For the most part, these certifications are optional but are highly recommended to help distinguish yourself from others working within the specialty.

Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist: This certification is completed through the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board and demonstrates your knowledge, skills, and competency in delivering aesthetic care. This certification does have significant pre-requisites before you can sit for the exam. For example, you must be working with a physician in one of the core specialties for at least 1,000 hours (Plastic/Aesthetic Surgery, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, or Facial Plastic Surgery (ENT)) at the time of applying for the exam. You do have to apply for recertification every 3 years. This organization does offer a Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse certification as well. Visit the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board for more information.

The American Academy of Procedural Medicine offers a variety of board certification courses in the delivery of aesthetic procedures. For example, there are courses in

◦ Botox
◦ Dermal Fillers
◦ Sclerotherapy Training Course
◦ Cosmetic Laser Treatments
◦ Advanced Medical Aesthetic Training


For more information about the courses I have listed above or about other courses they offer, please visit The American Academy of Procedural Medicine.

Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) may also be required to become an aesthetic NP. Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) is another common certification, however, the aesthetic NP primarily cares for the adult patient and in most settings, PALS will not be required. Below, I will briefly discuss ACLS and BLS.

BLS is required by most healthcare facilities and providers. This is a foundational course that prepares you to deliver cardiovascular care to people in an emergency. The course teaches how to deliver high-quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), and respond to a patient who is choking. This course teaches these skills for both adult and pediatric patients.

ACLS is directed towards the adult patient and builds on the knowledge gained from the BLS course. The course teaches you early recognition and management (including pharmacologic management) of respiratory and cardiac arrest, arrhythmias, acute coronary syndrome, and stroke. It also teaches airway management and effective communication skills.


Continuing Education Requirements For Aesthetic Nurse Practitioners


Continuing education requirements for aesthetic NPs are similar to that of other specialties and is variable upon the state you are licensed. In most, if not all states, you must complete a minimum amount of continuing education hours every couple of years before being able to re-license. For your APRN license, you must also complete a specific number of pharmacology continuing education hours and of those hours, a certain number must be dedicated to prescribing opioids. As I mentioned above, it is also important to remember you will have to maintain your active RN license, along with your NP license when practicing. For more information, please visit your state board of nursing.

Also, if you obtain certification as an aesthetic NP, you will most likely be required to complete ongoing education to keep the certification active. This is separate from your NP and RN license. Each certification will have its own requirements, ranging from repeating certification exams, watching webinars, or attending conferences. It is important, that when you receive your certification as an aesthetic NP or in a specific skill, to understand the renewal or relicensing requirements.


Starting Salary Of An Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner


Have you wondered what is the average salary of an aesthetic nurse practitioner? The starting salary of an aesthetic nurse practitioner is $29.87 and if you work 40 hours a week, you can make $62,130 annually. This is an average and therefore is influenced by multiple factors. The city and state where you work can influence your average starting salary as well as if you work for an organization or for a private practice. Also, if you have experience as an aesthetic nurse or as an NP in a different specialty you may be more likely to have your starting pay be slightly higher.

Per Hour $29.87
Per Month $5,180
Per Year $62,130


Average Salary Of An Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner


The average aesthetic nurse practitioner salary is $41.04 per hour and if you work 40 hours a week you would make $85,360 a year. This is an average and just like the starting salary, it is influenced by multiple factors such as where you live and the environment worked.

Per Hour $41.04
Per Month $7,110
Per Year $85,360
(Source: Payscale.com)


Job Outlook For Aesthetic Nurse Practitioners


For those of you who want to be an aesthetic NP, the job outlook for aesthetic nurse practitioners is excellent. More and more patients are seeking out healthcare practitioners that can provide cosmetic/aesthetic treatments. This is due to advancements in the delivery of aesthetic care, including more non or minimally invasive treatments and procedures. This allows for more people to find procedures that fit their lifestyles and needs. It also provides more opportunities for patients to correct cosmetic or aesthetic concerns that they may have had all their life. Lastly, the population continues to age, and people live longer, leading to an increase in aesthetic procedures and treatment to help people maintain their youthful appearance.


Useful Organizations & Associations


There are a few organizations available to those who want to become an aesthetic nurse practitioner. These organizations and associations have the goal to provide education and resources to NPs who want to become an aesthetic nurse practitioner. Below, I have provided information and links to two organizations/associations available to the aesthetic NP.

The American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery (AAAMS): The AAAMS is an organization geared towards physicians, nurse practitioners, and nurses delivering aesthetic care to patients. Their goal is to ensure the highest quality and evidence-based medicine is practiced. They offer numerous courses and educational opportunities to meet the need of the healthcare provider. This includes courses on Botox, dermal fillers, liposuction, and others. They also offer membership to their organization with different tiers to meet your individual expectations.

International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses: ISPAN is available for the registered aesthetic nurse and the aesthetic nurse practitioner. The organization's goal is to educate and ensure competency for the NP and RN delivering aesthetic care. This is achieved through the encouragement of practicing evidence-based medicine, legislative updates, and patient safety initiative. For more information, please visit the ISPAN website.

Canadian Society of Aesthetic Specialty Nurses: This organization’s goal is to promote the delivery of high-quality aesthetic care. This is achieved through the attendance and completion of forums where it is encouraged to use evidence-based medicine to ensure the highest quality and safest aesthetic care is delivered to the patient. This organization is available to nurses working in aesthetic medicine. There are qualification guidelines to become a member, therefore visit the Canadian Society of Aesthetic Specialty Nurses website for more information.


Finally, Is Aesthetic Nursing The Right NP Specialty For You?


So, have I piqued your interest in aesthetic medicine? Have I answered your question of what is an aesthetic nurse practitioner? Every day, you get the opportunity to work closely with your patients to help make their aesthetic/cosmetic dreams a reality. You have the opportunity to work in various settings, with daytime hours and, in most settings, no holidays. You also have ample opportunities to build on your skillset and continue your education through certifications, conferences, and webinars. Becoming an aesthetic NP is a rewarding career path with projected growth and need in the future.


Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Kasee Wiesen is a practicing family nurse practitioner. Her nursing background includes emergency medicine, pediatrics and peri-op. Education is a passion of Kasee’s, and she has taught BSN, RN-BSN and DNP students, and has enjoyed every moment of it!