People ask me all the time how I got from the emergency room as a nurse in Trenton, NJ to opening and running my own medical spa in Yardley, Pa. It may seem like a massive leap, but you’d be surprised how much of what I learned in the ER translates into my everyday life now. Certainly, the anatomy and the medical skills are crucial to my success as an aesthetic nurse specialist, but the intangibles I discovered through being a nurse in the ER are the foundation of my business and, in many ways, my life.
While it is almost nothing like what you see on TV, the ER is indeed adrenalized, challenging, frenetic, and not for the weak of heart. As a nurse, succeeding is all about thinking on your feet, reacting to what’s in front of you, trying to make patients and their families as comfortable and at ease as possible, and getting through the day with as few mishaps as possible. But you learn about people. I worked with an incredible staff of nurses who I’d trust with my own life. They’re tough as nails. They’re smart. They’re resourceful. That’s not the unexpected part.
I also learned how little you can trust your eyes when you look at someone. I’d have a patient in the emergency room, and no matter how much I thought I could read the situation, it would so often play out another way. I learned how complicated people are, how hard they are on themselves, and how much capacity they have for love and generosity when given the chance. People cope with an impossible amount of physical, mental, and emotional pain, and the emergency room was a constant reminder.
I fell in love with being an aesthetic nurse specialist because I discovered early on that when someone comes into get an injection or treatment, it’s often just as much about improvement from within, even though we’re focused on the exterior. Every time I smooth age lines, I know I may be helping someone cope with their fears and insecurities about aging. Every time I correct a scar that was put there through violence or tragedy, I know I’m removing physical evidence of a terrible experience—and that can be life changing.
But as I was going through my trainings for aesthetics, there was still a stigma around injectables and facial and body treatments. It was still a little bit taboo, and I never really understood why. We go through so much in our lives, and sometimes you just need to do something that makes you feel better about yourself, even if it’s skin deep. Removing a blemish, giving yourself more luscious lips, removing stubborn fat—these are things we can improve. In a world where so much is out of our control, it feels good to make a physical change, no matter how slight.
Regardless of where someone is in their lives—in their 20s or their 80s—we all deserve to feel good about ourselves. And I love my job because I get to provide that.
I’ve never been too sure about what’s taboo about feeling good about ourselves, but I rejected all of that when I decided to leave the ER and help people manifest physically what they feel inside. And I don’t regret it for a single second.