Aesthetic Medicine
Aesthetic Medicine


On course

Aesthetic Medicine has joined forces with plastic surgeon and professor Mr Ali Ghanem and Ulster University College of Medicine and Dentistry to launch The British Institute of Aesthetic Medicine (BIAM). Offering fully-accredited courses at levels 5, 6 and 7, the curriculum has been designed to be flexible, comprehensive and in line with latest guidance and standards for educators. AM editor Georgia Seago recently sat down with Mr Ghanem on a webinar to ask him what can be expected from the training.

AM: We are delighted to be partnering with you to launch The British Institute of Aesthetic Medicine (BIAM). Can you give us a bit of background into this venture and how the idea came about? 

Mr Ali Ghanem: I’m really excited to see this dream come to fruition. This is an idea that has been refined over the last decade. In many ways aesthetic medicine is a very new aspect of medicine. Lack of regulation as well as the interdisciplinary nature of aesthetics has meant that over the years more and more non-healthcare professionals have started to push the boundaries and offer treatments that have medical context, leading to some catastrophic complications. There have also been many issues surrounding who teaches aesthetic medicine and, unfortunately, this has led to a lot of “cowboys” on the education side.

The UK has done a lot in recent years to address these gaps but they continue to exist. The Health Education England reports (published in November 2015) recommended that all those performing cosmetic interventions complete competency-based qualifications to ensure patient safety. That document has since been a compass for educators for the standardisation of training in the five main disciplines of aesthetic medicine – botulinum toxin, dermal fillers, energybased devices, microneedling and peels (in addition to hair-restoration surgery).

Thankfully, we have seen a withdrawal of the kind of quick “weekend courses” that were very popular in the 90s and early 00s and the emergence of more university-based and accredited courses.

I created the UK’s first university-based qualification in aesthetic medicine at Queen Mary University of London. At first it was a simple postgraduate certificate but demand for educational competency in this field meant it evolved into a postgraduate diploma and then a Master’s degree, which I led until January 2020. We now have several Master’s programmes in the UK. The one that I’m currently leading is at Ulster University College of Medicine and Dentistry, Birmingham campus.

“The entire journey of a practitioner can be mapped and supported from the day they think that aesthetic medicine is something that they would like to explore, to the moment they become an expert in the field”

So we now have university programmes and some independent courses that offer a specific competency in botulinum toxin, dermal fillers or lasers, for example, but we are still far from having an umbrella qualification where the entire repertoire of aesthetic medicine can be academically taught alongside practical hands-on training.

On a university course there is a limit as to what you can offer as far as hands-on goes, and this coupled with the fact that most of our students are professionals and are very busy, gave way to the idea of an Open University-style model. With this type of training you are not bound by a particular semester or a certain set of deadlines for assignments – it is a much more flexible programme.

AM: What are the entry requirements for each of the levels on these courses? 

AG: We are strictly following the recommendations by Health Education England and as a result we created educational interventions to match their report. The entry criteria is as recommended – the higher Levels (6 and 7) will be for healthcare professionals who can practice aesthetic medicine legally and who can successfully obtain insurance to practice after completion of their competency training. That includes doctors, dentists and nurses. For Level 5 the criteria is less stringent; a therapist’s Level 4 qualification will be necessary or any other accepted qualification in healthcare, such as a nursing degree or degree in pharmaceutical sciences. 

AM: How will it work? 

AG: We are offering courses in microneedling and chemical peels at Level 5; botulinum toxin for upper face at Level 6 and advanced peels, microneedling above 1mm, dermal fillers and botulinum toxin for full face and off-face indications at Level 7. At the moment, we are not offering a course in energy-based devices, although we are planning to launch that in 2021. 

Every educational intervention that the student undertakes will be valued academically and have an academic credit assigned to it. Some courses will be 15 credits while others will be 30. Courses can be standalone or students can complete multiple courses and collect CPD points that can then be added towards a further accredited programme in the future.

This means that students will also be able to customise their training and pick and choose what courses they want to include in their wider qualification.

This is a real user-friendly programme that will enable students to undertake bite-sized education in their own time. There will be a practical element that will augment their theoretical knowledge gained via self-directed online learning, with direct face-to-face education as well as mentoring and fellowship training. They will then have an assessment at the end of each individual course. The assessment may be a hybrid of a 1,000 to 2,000-word assignment, geared towards encouraging our future practitioners to practice evidence-based medicine, and an element of a practical assessment to evaluate the competency.

Delegates will get a certificate on completion of each course and their credits can go towards their annual CPD re-validation and appraisal.

Once they collect 60 credits they can get a post-graduate certificate. If they get 120 credits they can apply for a post-graduate diploma. If in the future they then wanted to submit a dissertation and go on to do a Master’s, they would be transferred to become a student at the Ulster University College of Medicine and Dentistry programme where they would have to defend a thesis.

This means that the entire journey of a practitioner can be mapped and supported from the day they think that aesthetic medicine is something that they would like to explore, to the moment they become an expert in the field.

AM: How long will the courses take to complete? 

AG: The courses will include face-to-face training, online learning and self-directed learning. We would expect the students to be able to complete a 30-credit course over one semester – so three months – and a 15-credit course over around six weeks, if they are focused and are doing their self-directed learning. However, if the student needed to stretch the programme out over a longer period they could, but they would have to pass their assessment and demonstrate that their understanding and competencies are up to standard before they are able to be awarded the qualification. The BIAM courses are practically led so students will be able to offer the procedure immediately upon completing their assessment, once they have their insurance. 

You can watch the full interview with Mr Ali Ghanem on our Facebook page. 

This article appears in the January 2021 Issue of Aesthetic Medicine

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This article appears in the January 2021 Issue of Aesthetic Medicine