By Michael Meyer, Content Writer/Editor, American Med Spa Association
In the early days of the medical aesthetic business, it was more or less presumed that a medical spa would be owned by a “core doctor”—i.e. a plastic surgeon, facial plastic surgeon, otolaryngologist or cosmetic dermatologist. However, as the field has matured, the group of owners involved has become more and more diverse, ranging from doctors and nurses to entrepreneurs and even estheticians. In fact, it’s somewhat difficult to find a medical spa owned by a core doctor today—according to the American Med Spa Association’s 2019 Medical Spa State of the Industry Report, of all of the medical spas owned by medical professionals, only 20% owned by core doctors.
Today, it’s much more common to find doctors with backgrounds in family practice and emergency medicine owning medical spas—each of those specialties owns 23% of the practices owned by medical professionals, according to the report. Why is this? As you’ll read in this series, there seems to be a certain frustration with the way managed care has caused health care in the United States to evolve, and doctors, nurses and physician assistants are interested in providing more personalized care to their patients without having to deal with insurance and other payment issues.
However, doctors aren’t the only people involved in medical spa ownership—entrepreneurs are making their mark on the industry, as well. According to the report, 12% of medical spas owned by individuals and 24% of medical spas owned by groups are owned by entrepreneurs. It speaks to the broad appeal of the industry—and the amount of money people are making in it—that this many people from outside the traditional boundaries of it are willing to invest their money in medical aesthetics.
In this series, you will be introduced to four people—a doctor, a mid-level practitioner, an RN and an entrepreneur—who came into the medical spa industry from different backgrounds, but managed to find success because of their determination and love for the business. Each one is true success story and an example of how, in this industry, hard work and quality care are a winning combination.
Maegen Kennedy, PA-C, trained in family practice and dermatology, and worked at a busy urgent care where she saw dozens of patients every day. It wasn’t long before she grew frustrated with the grind of practicing medicine in a managed care environment.
“I was tired of seeing 40 patients a day and feeling like a hamster in a wheel,” she says. “I was tired of insurance reimbursements and being told what to do. I was tired of jumping through hoops for patients who weren’t following through with treatment plans, exercising and dieting. You get burnt out.”
Instead of continuing to toil in a job she disliked, however, Kennedy decided to strike out on her own and pursue medical aesthetics.
“It was a big decision that weighed heavily on my conscious—do I want to give up a lot of my training, and will I be happy just doing aesthetics? I decided that it was in my best interest to do that,” Kennedy says.
She didn’t have enough money to open a medical aesthetic practice right away, but her desire to make it on her own sparked her ingenuity. She rented a tiny 250-square-foot studio and began administering microblading treatments; during this time, she built a large client base, became a nationally renowned expert in microblading and, eventually, made enough money to open her medical spa.
“I was just tired of building up somebody else’s practice,” Kennedy says. “I believed in myself enough that I knew if I opened something, I was going to go full force and wholeheartedly into it, and it was going to be successful. I just believed that, even though the med spa space is extremely risky and scary. It’s very hard to break into the industry if you don’t have the capital.”
In September 2017, Maegen and her husband Jordan Kennedy, DMD, opened Windermere Dental & Medical Spa in Orlando, Florida, a full-service medical aesthetic practice combined with a dental practice. Additionally, she operates Fleek Brows Microblading Training, through which she conducts intensive courses that help medical aesthetic practitioners learn how to perform and market microblading treatments.
Kennedy feels that her background as a PA-C has allowed her to become a success in medical aesthetics and, although she is much happier operating her medical spa than she was before, she suggests that people who are undergoing advanced medical training should not begin a career in medical aesthetics right away.
“This is what I tell people all the time: Don’t come out of school and go into aesthetics. It’s just not the right way. I know aesthetics is very attractive because it’s fun and you don’t have to see 40 patients a day—you can see 15 or 20. But the truth is, when it comes to medicine, you’ve got to get your foundation. You need the foundation. I find that without my foundation, there are situations that I may not have recognized or felt as confident in treating patients. But when you have a foundation—whether it’s internal medicine, family medicine or even dermatology—then you’re better equipped in aesthetics. You’re more well-rounded, and I believe you have an appreciation for aesthetics that is so much different than if you just went into it right out of school.”
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