Make Your Relationships Rock

Collaborative relationships with other aesthetic, wellness and medical practitioners is key for providing optimum outcomes for your clients or patients, says Carly Whytcross, a senior dermal clinician at The CAPS Clinic in Canberra and the President of the Australian Society of Dermal Clinicians.

Dermal clinicians are degree-qualified skin specialists whose focus is on skin integrity management and non-surgical treatments to assist with acute and chronic skin conditions, disorders and diseases.

They work closely with doctors and other health practitioners to support and enhance patient outcomes.

Inter-professional relations are formed with dermatologists, skin cancer specialists, plastic surgeons, vascular specialists, endocrinologists and GPs.

A GP or specialist consultant will often refer to a dermal clinician, to obtain support and enhanced patient outcomes or improve aesthetic concerns the patient may have.

Additionally, nurses will consult dermal clinicians to gain advice for wound healing strategies to speed recovery and gain optimal outcomes or increase longevity of cosmetic injectables.

Beauty therapists will also often refer to dermal clinicians, to provide advanced treatments and assist them with skin conditions.

Likewise, dermal clinicians will refer back to all of these professionals to ensure patients receive the holistic support they require.

These collaborative relationships work in a symbiotic way, with professionals leveraging fully on each other’s strengths to overcome their own knowledge gaps to delivery strong patient outcomes.

However, many professionals are unsure of collaboration for fear of:

  • Competition
  • Loss of control over the patient’s care process
  • Risk of losing the patient to another professional

These fears are misfounded, as collaboration only increases the patient’s trust and confidence in you as a professional, as ultimately you are delivering a far stronger outcome with the patient at the centre of the care process.

The reasons to collaborate are extensive and include:

  • Patients who have complex health needs and require a range of expertise in order to provide a full solution
  • Collaboration truly allows a professional to specialise in their area of strength
  • Duty of care protocols, ensuring you only work within your professional scope
  • Professionals working together within their scope of practice ensures better patient outcomes
  • Builds solid trust from patient, which ultimately builds repeat business

Before referring, you must:

  • Understand your services, scope of knowledge and professional gaps
  • Understand what your patients require
  • Understand what specialties are in the market that would enhance your patient care through complementary services
  • Ensure the professionals you want to connect or align with share your patient values and ethics
  • Reach out to fellow professionals through:
    • Emails
    • Phone calls
    • Organising educational workshops
    • Networking events
    • Clinical observations days
    • Attending conferences and further professional development courses
  • Take fellow professional up on their invitations and offers to share and learn from them

By doing these things, you are increasing your own body of knowledge and will be able to make referrals with confidence, knowing what level of care and expertise your patient will benefit from.

By demonstrating this wide range of knowledge to your patients and effectively making recommendations, you are building your own credibility as a well-informed professional.

When engaging with your patient and formulating treatment plans, ensure you obtain their consent to refer. Explain carefully, in the context of their patient plan, why you are making these recommendations.

Benefits to you as the referring practitioner:

  • Efficient use of time
  • Ability to focus on area/s of expertise
  • Knowledge growth – awareness of different and complementary approaches
  • Fosters appreciation and understanding of other disciplines
  • Provides an environment for innovation
  • Improved patient outcomes leading to patient loyalty, trust and repeat business

Benefits to your patients:

  • Patient-centred care
  • Improved healthcare outcomes
  • Active patient participation, as they have bought into the process knowing their health is centric to the process
  • Improved long term health outcomes, as not just treating the presenting symptoms but consulting widely with relevant professionals to uncover the root cause
  • Satisfied individuals who display loyalty and high-levels of trust in you as a practitioner


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