Introducing the Distinguished Women in Medical Aesthetics, Part 1

Posted By Madilyn Moeller, Wednesday, July 10, 2024

AmSpa Distinguished Woman 2023

Medical aesthetics is composed of majority women owners and medical professionals, and it is important to recognize the talents, technique and business acumen of women who are dedicated to moving the industry forward. Excellence isn't uncommon in this field, but AmSpa's Distinguished Women in Medical Aesthetics have managed to uniquely stand out.

In Spring 2024, QP shone a spotlight on 31 women who are going above and beyond to set high standards and foster growth within the industry. These women are not only driven to be the best, but they also strive to bring out the best in those around them and provide the best to every patient they see.

What Makes a Distinguished Woman in Medical Aesthetics?

A Distinguished Women in Medical Aesthetics:

  • Leads a successful, dynamic, healthy business;
  • Works to safely and effectively train on clinical technique, keeping best practices and patient safety at the forefront;
  • Builds and maintains a positive, inclusive culture;
  • Makes a positive difference in their community, their profession or the industry as a whole;
  • Creates their own destiny and isn't easily defeated;
  • Fosters a mindset of growth and evolution in medical aesthetics;
  • Takes charge and takes risks; and/or
  • Feels a true passion about medical aesthetics and the patients she serves.

Read on for the full interviews with these incredible women, as we present them in a series of five blog articles.

Erika Barry

Erika Barry, NP-C, MSN, Moksha Aesthetics

Erika Barry, aka InjectorBunny, is one of the top aesthetic injectors in the country. She serves as an international trainer for industry power players such as Allergan, Revance and Galderma, and as a leading speaker for Evolus, Merz and InMode, where she also serves as expert faculty. Additionally, Barry provides her own private group training sessions across the country, spending a significant portion of her career educating top doctors, NPs, PAs and RNs on cutting-edge neuromodulator injections and dermal filler techniques. Barry partnered with a fellow injector to open Moksha Aesthetics, a state-of-the-art medical spa in Potomac, Maryland. In addition to Moksha, she has built a virtual community of injectors through her platform on Patreon, with subscribers from around the world tuning in to learn about all things aesthetics. Through her page, Barry demonstrates injection techniques, showcases how to consult with patients, discusses business development and growth, makes product suggestions and lectures on anatomy. Barry was the first internationally recognized injector to start a virtual-learning platform for fellow injectors and medical providers looking to get into the industry, making aesthetics education easily accessible and more affordable for health care professionals.

Q&A

  • When did you begin practicing aesthetics? 2014
  • What do you love about medical aesthetics? The patient-provider relationship and the community as a whole with its supportive and uplifting nature.
  • What obstacles have you encountered because you are a woman? I think the main obstacle has been not being taken seriously. I still encounter this at times throughout my career.
  • What kinds of support have you received from other women in the industry? We are always there for each other, whether it’s to provide advice or just lending an ear. The support we provide each other is truly incredible.
  • What would you change about your experience in the industry if you had the chance? There are times it can be unnecessarily competitive, and it would be nice to limit that aspect, although I do think a little friendly competition can be good.
  • What advice would you give to other women in the industry? You catch more flies with honey than vinegar!
Julie Bass Kaplan

Julie Bass Kaplan, FNP-BC, Disappearing Act Medical Aesthetics

Julie Bass Kaplan, FNP-BC, CANS, is a family nurse practitioner who began her medical aesthetics career in 1999 when she founded Disappearing Act Medical Aesthetics. She has a special interest in teaching safe injection techniques—she is a faculty speaker for Palette Resources, is a speaker/trainer for Allergan Medical Institute, and sits on Allergan, Galderma and Revance’s advisory boards. Kaplan is a published author for several medical journal articles and speaks at various international conventions. She also provides individual injection training workshops through her company, JBK Aesthetics.

Q&A

  • When did you begin practicing aesthetics? 1999 was a huge year for my husband and me. We got married, I started nursing school, I bought a hair removal laser and I opened Disappearing Act Medical Aesthetics. Also, that summer, I got pregnant with our son Levi. In 1999, people were afraid of the word “laser” and the business had quite a slow start. Because I wasn’t finished with nursing school until 2001, I hired a nurse friend to run the laser for us. We honestly had no idea where this crazy idea would take us—we just both grabbed each other’s hands and jumped right into it.
  • What do you love about medical aesthetics? The thing I love the most about medical aesthetics is how so many of us are willing to share honestly with each other. I cannot think of another field of medicine that shares experiences like we do. Think about it for a moment—can you think of any other conferences where you can sit right next to someone teaching a technique that leads to better patient safety? Can you think of any other field of medicine that educates on social media or online platforms like we do?
  • What obstacles have you encountered because you are a woman? I am thrilled and proud to be a woman, and honored to be a nurse practitioner who is a certified aesthetic nurse specialist (CANS). I have encountered some obstacles along the way because of being a woman and a nurse. The biggest obstacle is pay equality as an educator. Long ago, pharmaceutical companies set the pay to be quite different for physicians and nurse practitioners, even if they are doing the exact same job with the exact same responsibilities in teaching and demonstrating techniques and safe practices. After 25 years in this space, I am seeing that this has not changed. The pay inequality for the same work is still considerably different, sometimes NPs and PAs get paid as much as 30% to 50% less. Most KOLs in this space have been men over the years, and I am starting to see a shift to bring in more women KOLs. I do long for a time when we are paid the same regardless of the degrees we have obtained. If an NP or PA can diagnose, assess, treat and handle any complication that arises, I believe they should be paid the same as their physician colleague with the same job description and responsibilities.
  • What kinds of support have you received from other women in the industry? Women in aesthetic medicine are well-known for supporting each other and holding each other up. Most of us don’t feel competitive with each other (heck, there are plenty of wrinkles to go around) and we want to see each other thrive. I will give you just one example of how I was lifted in a dark time. In 2018, a wildfire swept through our town and, overnight, my family and I literally had nothing. We had no home, no food, no clothes. More than 1,100 homes were devoured by the fire overnight, so we were not sure we could even find somewhere to sleep. I shared a photo of my home in ashes with nothing but the bricks to our doorway remaining. That week, hundreds of injectors, mainly women, showered our family with love, prayers, and even some cash to get back on our feet. It was incredible, and, to this day, my eyes tear up when I think of how our injector community rallied around us. It was such a beautiful display of love and community. Women know how to give exactly what is needed to our colleagues in any kind of pain. I see it happen again and again and it always warms my heart. When we have a patient who suffers a complication, women injectors often reach out to each other and provide support, assistance and advice as well. I do not see much judgement of one another like I have witnessed in years past. It is not uncommon to see someone honestly post on social media about a complication that happened and how they resolved it. The comments are supportive and informative, and, to me, this is what distinguishes us from other medical professions. We not only learn from our successes, but we also learn from our complications. Everyone has complications, and our honesty helps us all prevent more of them. Sharing without fear of judgment is a beautiful thing to behold.
  • What would you change about your experience in the industry if you had the chance? This is a highly specialized field of medicine, and a respected field of medicine at that. Nothing is easy about what we do. I personally replaced the word “industry” with “field of medicine.” The definition of “industry” is “economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufacture of goods in factories. A branch of economic or commercial activity.” I do not believe this word describes what we do at all. To gloss over what we do as an “industry” makes it feel less medical and takes away some of the professional components that we all must uphold. I believe we should relay to the world that what we do is serious. It is medicine, and we strive for patient safety and natural outcomes for our patients.
  • What advice would you give to other women in the industry? My advice to other women in this field of medicine is to maintain your authenticity and take time to connect with loved ones. Burnout is common in our field due to daily pressures, and I believe taking time away from work to love yourself while surrounded by loved ones is critical to avoid this. Please always be who you are and don’t bend to any pressure to be like someone else. There is no one on Earth exactly like you, and that is very special. Let your heart and soul shine through your pores for all the world to see. You will attract people who vibrate at your level and, over the years, you will lift each other up. Don’t be afraid to take your time to connect with people on a daily basis, especially your family. You will always be successful in this field of medicine if you take time to connect with patients, colleagues and your friends outside of our specialty, too. We need each other more than we even realize. If you happen to be at a conference where I am, please find me and ask me for a hug. Hugs are my favorite things to give and to receive.
Sarah Berg

Sarah Berg, DNP, FNP-C, Bespoke Beauty

Sarah Berg-Carnahan is a doctorate-prepared nurse practitioner, owner and medical director of Bespoke Beauty in Missoula, Montana. She holds nearly a decade of injecting experience in medical aesthetics and is a clinically published author for her doctoral thesis work focused on “Body Dysmorphia Disorder Screening in Medical Aesthetics.” A constant learner and innovator, Berg heavily focuses her current medical practice on regenerative options for patients to have the most natural results guided by biostimulation. She is a nationally recognized trainer for Galderma Aesthetics, is an educational partner for Merz Aesthetics, is a medical director for another local Montana practice, offers one-on-one mentorship for providers and business consulting in medical aesthetics, and is a highly requested private hands-on trainer. In 2024, she will be launching group in-office hands-on training courses at her primary medical practice.

Q&A

  • When did you begin practicing aesthetics? I began practicing aesthetics in 2015 and opened my practice in 2019.
  • What do you love about medical aesthetics? In my day-to-day practice within my clinic, I love providing care for patients. I love getting to know them and seeing how long-term treatment plans can make a significant impact on their confidence as they age. Outside of my clinical practice, I love giving back to my colleagues and teaching through hands-on training. Sharing knowledge with others and empowering medical providers to feel more confident in their skillset to grow and be more successful fills my heart.
  • What obstacles have you encountered because you are a woman? Being taken less seriously and also underestimated in my knowledge, not only in business knowledge but also in my medical and clinical knowledge base. This has taken the form of being talked down to or treated as an inferior.
  • What kinds of support have you received from other women in the industry? I have received an incredible amount of support from so many women in this industry! Women I know through face-to-face interactions, women I have developed deep friendships with, and also several women on social media whom I have yet to meet in person. We are always cheering for one another and checking in on one another.
  • What would you change about your experience in the industry, if you had the chance? I wouldn't change a single thing. Every lesson and season of growth has happened in its perfect timing. I am grateful for it all.
  • What advice would you give to other women in the industry? Don't give up on yourself—ever. There will be times when you will be your only and biggest fan, usually during really hard times. Make your relationship with yourself unshakeable and deeply rooted in love for yourself. Give yourself the grace to fail, find the lessons in failure and pick yourself back up to continue. You've got this.
Nicole Chiaramonte

Nicole Chiaramonte, Advanced MedAesthetic Partners, Synergy MedEsthetics

Known for her business philosophies of “profits with integrity” and “profit optimization through collaboration,” Nicole Chiaramonte is CEO of Advanced MedAesthetic Partners, Inc. (AMP), founder of Synergy MedAesthetics, co-founder of Aesthetic Investments, LLC, and a private investor in more than a dozen medical spas. She has 25 years of experience in startup management, with 15 years of management services organization (MSO) ownership in the legal and medical industries, and now specializes in non-surgical medical aesthetic practices. Chiaramonte has partnered with numerous respected providers, providing startup capital, guidance and comprehensive oversight of their entry into the medical spa space.

Q&A

  • When did you begin practicing aesthetics? I partnered with an oculoplastic surgeon to launch a body-sculpting clinic in January 2013. By the end of 2013, we had launched into a full service, pure-play medical spa.
  • What do you love about medical aesthetics? The people, advancing technologies and ability to directly improve the lives of our patients and team members. That is a dream combination for fulfillment in business.
  • What obstacles have you encountered because you are a woman? As a woman, I have been constantly underestimated. My vision and dreams were dismissed as naive and unachievable—variations of “if someone hasn’t already done it, there is a reason.” This created obstacles that would have not been there if others had bought into my vision, but it made me work harder and created something significantly larger than I initially planned as a result. The meme quote, “Underestimate me—that will be fun,” always makes me smile.
  • What kinds of support have you received from other women in the industry? Initially, not much, but that changed about five years ago. I don’t think there was a true group of women in leadership cheering for one another until AmSpa gave us a platform to meet and encourage one another. Cathy Christensen, Terri Ross, Marria Pooya, Lori Robertson and others naturally developed the zeitgeist of “community over competition.” It is now the more powerful energy in this space, cheering for one another rather than comparing or feeling threatened; that is a big win in this industry. Now, we need to nurture and maintain it.
  • What would you change about your experience in the industry if you had the chance? I would have tapped into in-person industry events much more quickly. There is much to learn about how you can be better and also confirm what you are already great at.
  • What advice would you give to other women in the industry? Identify the unspoken dream in your heart, define what its success looks like in your life, know what you are willing to sacrifice for it, stay true to your values, never compromise and never quit.
Shawna Chrisman

Shawna Chrisman, NP, Destination Aesthetics

Shawna Chrisman, NP, combined her passion for medicine, entrepreneurship and aesthetics to start Destination Aesthetics Medical Spa in November 2011 in a 140-sq-ft office as a solo provider; she has since developed it into one of the fastest growing medical spas in the country, with four locations in the Sacramento, California, area and more than 30 employees. In addition to the medical spa, she opened Destination Aesthetics Beauty Suites (DABS) in 2018 under the same roof as Destination Aesthetics’ Folsom, California, medical spa location; it is home to five independent business owners in a salon-suite setting. The second DABS in Roseville, California, opened in 2020 and is home to six business owners.

Q&A

  • When did you begin practicing aesthetics? At the end of 2011.
  • What do you love about medical aesthetics? What resonates with me deeply in the field of medical aesthetics is the profound impact it has on empowering individuals to recognize and embrace their inherent worth. Beyond the physical transformations, our work in medical aesthetics contributes to a sense of deservingness among people. Witnessing the boost in confidence and self-esteem that comes from helping individuals feel comfortable and content in their own skin is truly gratifying.
  • What obstacles have you encountered because you are a woman? I feel that women are sometimes unfairly judged for their beauty before their brains.
  • What kinds of support have you received from other women in the industry? I have been fortunate to experience incredible support from fellow women in the industry. The solidarity among us is truly inspiring, embodying the essence of "community over competition." The journey of balancing work and life can be both exhilarating and exhausting, but the mutual understanding we share has been a source of strength.
  • What would you change about your experience in the industry, if you had the chance? Reflecting on my journey in the industry, if given the chance, I would alter the method through which I initially acquired my injection skills. Back in 2011, the training resources available were limited, prompting me to turn to YouTube videos for guidance. While I gained valuable insights, the process lacked the structured and comprehensive education that is now more readily accessible. Over the years, I've witnessed a positive transformation in the industry's commitment to training and education. The increased availability of resources has been instrumental in enhancing our skills and ensuring that practitioners can provide safer and more effective treatments. The evolution in learning opportunities is something I am profoundly grateful for, as it not only benefits individual providers but also contributes to raising the overall standard of care in the industry. Looking back, I recognize the importance of continual improvement in educational avenues, and I am thankful for the positive shift toward a more robust and comprehensive learning environment.
  • What advice would you give to other women in the industry? My advice to fellow women in the industry is to embrace the journey without succumbing to external pressures that dictate what success should look like. It's easy to be swayed by the allure of becoming a social media sensation, expanding your business to multiple locations, or gaining recognition as a key opinion leader. However, it's essential to recognize that these external markers of success may not necessarily align with your personal goals and priorities. Instead of striving for what is perceived as "great" in the eyes of others, take a moment to appreciate and acknowledge the value of what you are doing today. Reflect on the impact you are already making on yourself, your family and your business. Success is a subjective and evolving concept, and it's crucial to define it in alignment with your own values and aspirations. In two, five or 10 years, you may realize that your current efforts are already more than enough to fulfill your objectives. Focus on meaningful growth, both personally and professionally, and don't let external benchmarks overshadow the intrinsic value of your journey. Remember, your worth is not determined by comparison to others but by the positive impact you create in your own life and the lives of those around you.

Join us next week as we continue this series celebrating AmSpa’s Distinguished Women in Medical Aesthetics!

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