August 31, 2023

Med Spa Medical Director: 7 Criteria for Partnering with the Right Collaborating Physician

Moxie Team

If you’re a medical professional looking to open a med spa, partnering with a medical director (aka a collaborating physician) is mandatory in most states.

A medical director will not only satisfy the regulatory requirements for opening your own med spa but will also uphold medical safety standards in the practice. Your collaborating physician will be involved in your medical spa. Therefore, choosing the right *ahem* collaborator is critical. 

In other words, it’s not about finding any medical director; it’s about building a partnership and professional relationship with the right med spa medical director.    

Read on as we walk through how to identify the perfect medical director, the roles and responsibilities of a medical director, associated costs, red flags, and more. 

What is a Medical Director? And What Should & Shouldn’t They Do at Your Med Spa?

Some states allow non-physicians, like registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners (NPs), and assistant physicians (APs), to run a medical spa. These medical professionals can set up what's known as a Management Service Organization (MSO). The MSO arrangement lets non-physician owners partner with a medical director to legally operate their med spa.

Medical directors must be licensed and certified in your state. If you’re in a state that requires an MSO, you can offer services, own your med spa business, and remain compliant via this technicality and partnership with a medical director.

Read more about MSOs and Navigating the Regulations around Operating a Med Spa.

A strong medical director will help to lead your med spa’s medical operations. They also assume that any client who enters their affiliated med spa is under their authority. Because of this, they must uphold strict safety and medical standards. 

Here’s a snapshot of the multifaceted responsibilities of a collaborating physician for a medical spa:

  • Absorb legal and medical responsibility for all cosmetic procedures done at the medical spa, acting as the face of the med spa during audits and inspections.
  • Ensure protocols and procedures are completed with quality, attention to detail, and safety through general supervision.
  • Evaluate the quality of care with regular, scheduled medical audits.
  • Help to design and approve the aesthetic clinic’s policies, procedures, and protocols to uphold state regulations
  • Review SOPs, consent forms, charts, and sign off on medication orders.
  • Protect against malpractice complaints and maintain necessary malpractice insurance coverage.
  • Be available and on call in case of emergency.
Are you ready to find a medical director for your med spa? Here’s how to find the best fit and affiliated costs.  

7 Criteria for Partnering with the Right Medical Director for Your Med Spa

Still navigating how to find a medical director for a med spa? 

Below are essential characteristics to look for in an ideal medical director for your med spa:

  1. Necessary Credentials: Ensure a potential collaborating physician has up-to-date certifications. Try to verify their qualifications (i.e., a medical license, appropriate training in services to be provided, certifications, courses, and experience in medical aesthetics)  through governing medical boards and associations.
  2. Good Track Record: Look at their past roles by requesting and reviewing references from other med spa owners and cosmetic nurses they’ve worked with. Even a quick networking chat can provide valuable insights into their integrity and overall track record.
  3. Clear Payment Structure: Discuss and agree on a payment structure. Consider industry standards and benchmarks for a fair deal. We’ll touch on this below. 
  4. Accessibility and Dependability: Assess their promptness. While medical directors aren’t mostly on-site, they should be easily reachable and communicative. Remember: some regions mandate medical directors to be within a certain proximity of your med spa.
  5. Integrity: Try to assess the potential collaborating physician’s alignment with your spa’s values. Ask situational questions during interviews to understand their ethical compass.
  6. Patient-first Mindset: A collaborating physician’s primary duty is to ensure the highest quality of patient care. Every treatment decision should be rooted in genuine concern for patient welfare and outcomes. Assess this through patient feedback or during initial consultations.
  7. Vision-oriented: Medical directors play a pivotal role in med spas, so they should be big-picture thinkers, not just bogged down by daily challenges. They ought to steer the business toward success and want you to succeed. Ultimately, they should feel like a partner.

While it can be a challenge to find a medical director, it’s important to take your time and partner up with a medical director that supports your vision. You are the med spa owner, after all!

Costs and Payment Structures for Med Spa Medical Directors

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Typically, med spa medical directors charge between $1,000 to $2,500 per month. However, this varies depending on their tasks, the risks they shoulder, their expertise, and the location of your med spa.

There are a few different ways to structure payment. 

Here are the common med spa medical director payment models:

  • Flat Fee: Doctors receive a set monthly fee.
  • Hourly Rate: Doctors get paid by the hour.
  • Percentage of Revenue: Doctors get a share of spa earnings. Some also include a certain rate for every supply ordered under their name.
  • Combination: This employs a blend of the structures above.
  • Per Procedure: Directors get compensated based on the services they perform.

Red Flags to Watch Out For 

Given the integral role your medical director will play, it’s crucial to vet all candidates carefully. 

Here are some signs that the medical director may not be an ideal fit:

  • No Hands-On Aesthetic Experience: The medical doctor lacks relevant experience and training in medical aesthetics.
  • Lack of Professional Development: There’s an apparent lack of commitment to ongoing education and continuous learning.
  • Poor Professional Records and Reputation: They have accumulated malpractice suits, disciplinary actions, ethical grievances, and unfavorable reviews from peers, patients, and colleagues.
  • Too Much/ Too Little Oversight: They excessively delegate to the medical team without proper oversight.
  • Questionable Engagement and Communication: There's a discernible communication gap, and they often seem unavailable, even during on-call hours.
  • Overextended Commitments: Representing too many med spas means the medical director may be spread too thin and generally unavailable. 
  • Resistance to Innovation: They hesitate to embrace new techniques, technologies, or procedures.
  • Weak Financial Integrity: Clear financial concerns arise, especially with tendencies to overcharge and advocate for unnecessary treatments.

Summary; TL;DR

Finding a medical director for your med spa is more than just ticking boxes for credentials or experience. It’s about finding a collaborating physician who goes above and beyond for patient care, keeps you on the right side of regulations, and elevates your med spa business. 

Ready to super-charge your med spa growth? We help entrepreneurs (like you) partner with the right medical directors and open and run successful med spas!

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