Pharmacy is an ever-evolving profession, and with more and more pharmacists entering the aesthetics industry, many are looking to expand and diversify their skillset. So, now is the time to stand out from the crowd. We spoke to Amar Suchde - founder and CEO of PharmAesthetics UK - to find out his thoughts on the new generation of pharmacists in aesthetics.
The landscape for pharmacists is completely changing, moving from the traditional "counting pills" image to a more clinical and well-rounded healthcare professional. Over the years, pharmacists have transitioned to have more prominent roles in the forefront of the community, with some embarking on a more clinical route in GP practices and others moving into the world of aesthetics.
My journey pretty much started out the same as most pharmacists - I finished university, passed my Pre-Reg and went to work for a multinational company. After qualifying as a pharmacist in 2012, I spent two years working in a pharmacy, learning the skills required to understand the code of ethics, and what was needed to ensure patient safety. Then, in 2014, I realised that working in a pharmacy wasn’t my true passion.
Growing up, I suffered badly with eczema and acne, and was on every single steroid cream you can imagine. As a consequence, I was raised in an environment where regularly taking care of my skin was important. Fortunately, I don’t suffer with eczema anymore - but it has left a lasting invisible scar and has made me fascinated by the world of skin.
At university, I had always enjoyed focusing on subjects related to skin. This continued interest, combined with my creative side, made me realise that aesthetics would be the perfect industry for me.
In 2014, after knocking on a thousand doors, I finally started out on my journey into aesthetics, finding a mentor in Dr Vincent Wong. Under his wing I was able to observe, inject and get a greater understanding of the industry - and, over the course of 18 months, I learned so much. With this new knowledge and skill set under my belt, I started my own business - AMS Aesthetics - and with Dr Wong’s guidance, I was able to expand my clinic in and around London and grow a loyal client base.
Coming from a pharmacy background, it was really important for me to understand every aspect of the industry before I walked on my own two feet. I spent so much time studying and training to really learn the art of injecting and tailoring my conversational style, which was so different to the world I had originally come from.
Each day is a learning curve. In business, I have learnt that nothing is ever the same from day to day. It’s like a rollercoaster - you will have your lows and you will have your highs - but at the end of that trip, you have a destination. Moving from pharmacy to aesthetics opened many doors for me. It allowed me to grow as a healthcare professional, expand my business acumen and improve my overall job satisfaction.
After I wrote my book A Simple Guide to the World of Aesthetics for Pharmacists in 2017, I found myself in a very fortunate position in which I could help other pharmacists open up their potential.
I was also fortunate to set up PharmAesthetics UK - an aesthetics academy specifically for pharmacists. Our Level 7 certificate is a postgraduate-level qualification in injectables, solely aimed at independent prescribing (IP) pharmacists. We have a strict entry process (as you would expect if you applied for medicine or dentistry), where each applicant must submit their CV, a personal statement, and must attend an interview. They also need to have worked for three years post-graduation in a healthcare role to be invited through to the interview stage. This not only improves the level and quality of healthcare professionals entering into aesthetics, but also ensures we bring a solid foundation of professionals into the industry that is safer for the patients.
With an industry that is growing year on year, and more and more people wanting to look younger and feel better about themselves, it is a lucrative industry to be a part of, and that cannot be denied. But one of the questions we ask during our interview stages at PharmAesthetics UK is what is your reason for entering into the aesthetics industry? We like to see people who really understand that being a great professional, a great injector and a safe and ethical pharmacist is of paramount importance. Yes, money makes the world go round but, first, you need passion, dedication and the real willpower to succeed before you can be thanked for the value you bring.
As pharmacists, we are governed by the General Pharmaceutical Society ( GPhC) and all follow a code of conduct to improve the patient journey. This means our patients are at the focal point of our care, thus ensuring we have continual learning on a regular basis, attend training events, enhance our skill set, and become prescribers, all with the end goal of making sure anyone under our care is safely and effectively looked after.
With regulations changing and more and more pharmacists entering the aesthetics industry, pharmacists need to ensure they are trained to the highest order in injectables and also be trained in the management of complications. These can happen when injecting, and one should be in the position to comfortably deal with them in a timely manner. They also need to be prescribers, and must ensure they do not take any shortcuts. Assuming you are an aesthetic practitioner after a one to two day course is not acceptable in my opinion. To really progress in the market, you need to have someone alongside you that has been in the industry long enough to help you grow and improve your skills in a safe environment. You need to respect the power that is given to you in altering a client's physical appearance.
Having an in-depth knowledge and a gargantuan respect for anatomy will allow you to adapt and be proactive in your decision making skills.
The current climate of pharmacy is changing. It is important for a pharmacist embarking on a new career path in aesthetics takes the best and most suitable route for them. Pharmacists coming into the aesthetic area need to respect the responsibilities given to them, they really need to hone in on their skills and grow. I’ve always believed that to succeed in any area, you need a mentor to help and guide you. You need to invest in yourself for one to two years ( if possible) to be the best version of yourself. Pharmacy is growing...make sure you allow yourself to grow and adapt. As always, knowledge is power.
Since launching in 2017, PharmAesthetics UK have increased our mentors, our facilities and staff to accommodate the demand we received for pharmacists wanting to enter the industry. To get onto PharmAesthetics UK- you do need to be 3 years + qualified, be a prescribing pharmacist/ aim to become a prescribing pharmacist and have successfully passed our interview process. Our training course is roughly 6-9 months long, so our first cohort finished in February/ March, 2018. All of them have gone on to open their own aesthetic clinics in their respective towns and provide safe and effective treatments for their patients.
Thanks so much for such amazing insight, Amar!