How did I become an aesthetics expert?
Updated: Sep 12
I get asked all the time "How did you start your practice? I've been a nurse for years can I take a day course and do what you do?". My goal with starting this blog is to motivate, educate and empower you so you can learn from my experiences and be the best version of you whether you are a provider or a patient. I'm extremely passionate about dermatology, aesthetic medicine, health / wellness, and wanted to share with you how this passion developed throughout my life and career. For those of you who have never met me, my name is Dawn Naylor BS, RN, MSN, ACNP (soon to be DNP) and this is my origin story.
First off, what do all of those letters mean after my name? I’m a Registered Nurse and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. I initially received a BS in physical therapy at UCONN & Lasell College and went on to complete my RN, MSN and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner licenses at MGH Institute of Health Professions graduating Magna Cum Laude. My training included residencies with plastic surgery, dermatology, emergency medicine, cardiology and critical care medicine. I have over 20 years experience in critical care, cardiology, aesthetics medicine, advanced medical procedures and constantly stay up to date by training with experts in plastic surgery, dermatology, and medical aesthetics. I started my own practice called Skin Esteem Med Spa and feel blessed that I get to do what I love every single day while helping amazing people along their skincare and wellness journey!
So how did I get where I am today? Let’s start at the beginning. My brother was born with a collapsed lung which caused lack of blood flow to his brain. My parents were told he would live only a few days. He is 52 today and continues to live a happy life.
He still lives with my elderly parents who care for him independently. He has cerebral palsy, mental retardation, epilepsy and is legally blind. He was dealt an unfair hand in life but has always had an amazing spirit and is the kindest, “big kid” I know even though he is mentally around seven years old. His medical care was costly and I didn’t grow up with financial stability. I did however, receive a lot of emotional stability from my amazing parents and sister.
However, school age kids could be cruel and my brother and I were bullied on a daily basis. This led to me having anxiety and self esteem issues at a very young age. To compound the issue, when I was twelve years old I was bit in the face by a dog (we'll skip that picture) and it left me with facial scars and a thin ugly upper lip.
Luckily, I found a dermatologist who fixed my lip with fillers and my passion for aesthetics took root. I wound up blossoming from a mousy scared girl to a pretty young woman. I was runner up of Miss Teen Connecticut and later became a shoe model for various companies including Nine West. I won fitness competitions and got into fitness modeling and swimsuit modeling. This was crazy for me because I was only 5”4’. I bar tended in my free time to make ends meet. You would think I had it all. However, I was still that mousy girl on the inside with self esteem issues.
I nearly developed an eating disorder because I was so afraid what would happen if I gained weight. I realized I needed to look for a different career that used my intelligence more that my looks. Due to all my brothers medical problems and doctor visits I developed an interest in medicine. I thought about attending medical school but honestly couldn't afford it. I needed a program where I could work while I attended school. I have a tremendous amount of respect for physicians. They go to school for 8 years before they even start into their specialty. They give a tremendous amount of their time and finances to selflessly help others.
I initially went to school for physical therapy but found that wasn't the right fit for me. I really wanted a medical career and quickly enrolled into a nursing program after graduating. I received my RN degree and got a job working at Brigham and Women's Hospital in a cardiac ICU working nights and pursued my Masters of Science in Nursing and Nurse Practitioner during the day. I am proud to be a pioneer in the nursing practice as I advocated for Nurse Practitioners to be allowed to do in patient clinical rotations in various acute care settings. At the time they only allowed Physician Assistants. I was one of the first NP’s allowed to rotate into the catheterization (cath) lab, emergency room (ER), heart transplant team and intensive care unit (ICU).
I was offered a job while still a student with a prominent physician. I accepted and trained under his tutelage for several years. I created a cath lab service from scratch. I also cross covered the ICU as an Intensivist NP for years. During this time I began to do pro bono aesthetic work for a friend who was a surgeon who specializes in breast restoration in cancer survivors. We did aesthetic procedures to enhance their appearance and in turn build their confidence. (If you haven't noticed I'm never idle).
During this time I taught NP students in various clinical settings and taught several courses at my alma mater MGH IHP. I became a boards writer for the ANCC. As my aesthetic skill set grew I created a part time practice out of a spa I built on my property while I continued full time work in the ICU. As my skill set and passion for aesthetics continued to grow, I knew I needed to make a decision on how I wanted to direct my career.
I decided to make the leap and rented a location so I could practice aesthetic medicine full time. I pursued clinical training with a variety of dermatologists and plastic surgeons and trained every opportunity I got. I also trained abroad and did cadaver labs so I could fully understand every part of the human anatomy.
Starting a new business is risky but I wanted to ensure I held myself to the highest standards. I got my new space credentialed by the Massachusetts Board of Health and Board of safety per state guidelines(www.mass.gov). I am currently getting my Doctor of Nursing practice degree. I have developed affiliations with a top oculofacial plastic surgeon and general plastic surgeon. I know my limitations of practice and have resources for those problems that are outside my scope. We offer 24/7 coverage with a licensed medical provider in case there should ever be a complication. In my practice all clients are examined in person by a Nurse Practitioner, Physician assistant or Medical Doctor prior to any injectable treatment (see state laws ammedspa.org).
So to all my nurse friends considering getting into this industry there is a lot more to it than just taking a day course. There are a lot of legal and safety issues to consider. I recommend any clinician considering opening their own aesthetic practice get a medical lawyer and review all the state and government guidelines. You need to be aware of insurance issues also. Check out mass.gov and american med spa.org for guidelines. You worked hard to get your license! You need to protect it!
I am extremely proud of the practice I have built and how much I have grown both personally and professionally. I 'm also fortunate to have built an amazing team at my spa! Team members include Kristina Borrelli PA-c, Holley Fahey RN, BSN, Lisa Seabearg, Norah Rowbottom, Angela Farmer PA-c and Colin Roberts EMT/paramedic. They are like family to me and I am blessed to have them working for me. We have won Wicked Local Best of South Shore in 2018 & 2019 (we are waiting to hear about 2020 but we know we are in top 3). We also won South Shore Living "Best Med Spa" of South Shore 2020.
Our clients come first! We believe in exceptional customer service and practice evidence based treatments so we know we're delivering cutting edge experiences for our beautiful patrons. We care tremendously about our patients on a personal level….not just their skin. My practice focuses on wellness from the inside out.
My goal in starting this blog is to share information on skin care tips, wellness, positivity and empowerment.
I'm going to take you on my journey of ongoing growth and wellness!
I'm looking forward to your interaction!
P.S. for all my Instagram followers, if you like my stories...you'll love the blog! I get to share more detail about topics and you'll have a place to come back and reference.