Self-labeling hogwash

“Advanced Nurse Injector,” “Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner,” “Injection Specialist,” “Master Injector.”


These are self-labels, and they hit a nerve with me. Can you tell?

What qualifies an injector as “advanced, master, specialist?” Is she a specialist in both neuromodulators and dermal fillers? What makes her a specialist? Education, experience? Did she take two courses and now consider herself a master at the aesthetic injectable trade?

I know, I know. I should be nice, but education, certification and title are issues we need to address collectively in our industry. Often times, we hear physicians down play nurses as cosmetic injectors. If there were formalized education curriculums and valid certifications, our field would be stronger and better armed to negate the comments made by physicians towards nurse injectors.

As you know, RNs are educated in general medical disciplines such as pediatrics, geriatrics, cardiac, obstetrics, chronic health issues (COPD, diabetes), etc. For mid-levels, graduate education is specialized towards family, women’s health, pediatrics, etc. When we complete these levels of nursing education, we take an exam that gives us a title — RN or ARNP. In aesthetics, there is no formal education process (YET … I am working hard to solve this conundrum), therefore we gain our knowledge and education through CME courses, industry-sponsored education and onsite training.

Merely sitting through a few four-hour courses and learning the injection technique is not enough to qualify oneself as a specialist or master. Having five years of experience does not necessarily qualify a person as a master injector. Give me a break! Only through certification of one’s skill set and education, can one call themselves a specialist.

Certification means you have shown the ability to comprehend specific material through testing successfully. It means you have gone the extra mile to sit for an exam and pass it. Certification tells the public that you cared enough about your professional to prove you know the material.

I manage and direct the nonsurgical team at Cool Springs Plastic Surgery. One day, one of my nurses texted and asked what title she should place on her business cards. My response was this: “You can say that you are a cosmetic RN or an aesthetic RN, but you cannot call yourself an injection specialist or advanced injection nurse because it’s an unqualified, self-made title. You can add ‘Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist’ to your business card when you sit and pass the CANS exam, but until then we can’t give ourselves self-made titles.”

Yes, it’s a challenge, but are you up for it?

I encourage you to get certified. Personally, I support the CANS exam and certification. There are strict qualifications for sitting for the exam; however, this is a positive attribute to the certification title.

If you are interested in taking the CANS exam (give yourself a big pat on the back), the exam is now offered in local venues two to three times a year and at the ASAPS and ASPSN meetings. The next CANS exam is offered October 17 through the PSNCB at national test sites. For study support, a Core Curriculum, CANS Study Guide (email me to ask about how to acquire this awesome piece of work) and CANS review course (yep, I teach that once a year at the National ASPSN meeting) exist to prep you for the exam.

If you work for a core specialist (plastic surgeon, dermatologist, ENT or facial plastic surgeon) and have more than two years experience in the aesthetic field, there is no reason why you can not take the CANS exam. I know this may seem a little harsh, but there are values I hold high and a certification as an aesthetic nurse specialist is what will drive our specialty into a valid nursing specialty. It paves the way for formal nursing education programs at the Master’s degree level.

What certifications do you hold? Stay tuned, in my next blog I will post organizations that offer certifications in aesthetics.

Stand up and be certified!

2017-03-06T19:42:28+00:00 By |Training|7 Comments

About the Author:

Haley Wood, offers her cosmetic patients a unique combination of experience, knowledge and personal attention. With almost a decade of experience in the field of Aesthetic Nursing, her areas of expertise include non-surgical facial rejuvenation with her distinctive injection technique.


  1. Andrea Hall September 23, 2015 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    Hi Haley, I have enjoyed reading your blogs and all of the informative details you provide! I am an RN with 14 years of pediatric nursing experience and have been given the opportunity to work with Dr. Kris Leventhal at her Aesthetics business!!! It has always been intriguing to me and I am grateful for this opportunity! I have attended a palette class and have watched hours upon hours of injection training videos as well as stood along side Dr Kris as she injects! What an incredible art and profession! I do a multitude of laser treatments and chemical peels and look forward to increasing my injecting! Would love to look over the information on becoming certified! Thank you for your honesty and your wealth of knowledge!
    Andrea Hall, RN

  2. Kelly Sullivan, RN November 14, 2015 at 1:37 am - Reply

    How do I acquire the CANS study guide? When will the next review class be offered?

    • Haley Wood November 20, 2015 at 3:43 pm - Reply

      Hi Kelly,
      Currently, you can purchase the Core Curriculum from ASPSN. In a month, I will have a study guide available for purchase on this website!

  3. Ruth Swanson April 7, 2017 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Hi Haley, I had the pleasure of meeting you at a training for Volbella in Troy Michigan. My question is do you know of any other avenues being explored for nurses to achieve the CANS certification without having the opportunity to work for a plastic surgeon or board certified dermatologist?

    • Haley Wood April 30, 2017 at 2:12 pm - Reply

      Hi Ruth,

      Great to hear from you again! The only way to sit for the exam is to be affiliated and have at least two years of experience with a core physician such as plastics, facial plastics, derm, or ophthalmology. To my knowledge, these requirements are steadfast.

  4. Ruth Swanson June 23, 2017 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your response!

  5. Sonya M. Ellis, APRN, CANS, CPSN July 10, 2018 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Go Haley Go! So necessary and so funny!

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.