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Some illnesses and conditions can significantly alter a patient’s appearance. In such cases, patients often seek treatment and guidance from professionals known as medical aestheticians. If you are passionate about both medicine and helping others improve their appearance, a medical aesthetician career may be your answer. Take a few minutes to study the job profile of a medical aesthetician to determine whether this career path is suited for you.
Medical aestheticians work with patients whose skin has been affected by trauma or medical procedure, by major surgery, for example. Their work includes a variety of tasks, including instructing patients in the ideal ways of applying makeup in the aftermath of a medical treatment. For instance, the aesthetician will teach a chemotherapy patient suffering from hair loss how to identify her natural brow line and pencil in her eyebrows with makeup. Examples of other tasks performed by a medical aesthetician include working with patients on stress relief and relaxation techniques.
In addition to having expertise in areas such as postoperative skincare or routine techniques like dermabrasion, medical aestheticians must often demonstrate creativity and resourcefulness, for example, when recommending makeup application techniques to a patient with unusual injuries. It follows that effective communication skills, flexibility and openness to feedback are helpful in cases when consulting patients about their appearance. Lastly, medical aestheticians--particularly those working in hospitals-- should have the emotional strength to work with terminal patients.
Medical aestheticians are typically employed by licensed healthcare providers such as plastic surgeons and dermatologists. Some work in different departments of hospitals, such as in the burn unit. Places of employment is one of the factors that distinguish medical aestheticians from general aestheticians, who generally work at spas, beauty salons and specialized sections of department stores, providing consultations to the general public.
While specific requirements vary by state, a medical aesthetician will typically have a college education and certification from a professional organization. Examples of courses taken to earn a certification or diploma include dermatological skin care, appearance counseling and cosmetic chemistry. The individual must also pass two tests administered by the Board of Cosmetology. Those with completed college coursework in science subjects such as biology and anatomy, as well as experience with working in a medical setting, will have an advantage over others.
Earnings and Outlook
In 2006, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported the average annual salary for aestheticians and other skin care workers to be $26,170. However, medical aestheticians often are paid a higher salary than these figures reflect. Because there will always be burn victims and cancer patients who need skin treatment, demand for medical aestheticians is not expected to decrease in coming years. Examples of professional growth and advancement for a medical aesthetician can include becoming an examiner for a state licensing board.
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Aksana Nikolai is a graduate of the New York Institute of Technology with a bachelor's degree in language studies and international affairs. Nikolai is currently working in online marketing and communications. She has been writing since 2008, specializing in made-for-Web content and maintaining her fashion and beauty blog.