Halle Friedman grew up watching her dad practice medicine as the only doctor and surgeon in a rural area in Washington. He eventually lost his business because of insurance laws and other factors, and thus Friedman learned compassion for doctors, not knowing what a huge part that would later play in her life.
In high school, she was a cheerleader, played saxophone in a jazz band, sang in a jazz choir, played softball and ran on a cross country team. As a teenager, she wanted to be a police officer and help people and make a difference — never thinking “in a million years” she’d be a nurse, until a college counselor suggested it. Soon Friedman realized it was what she was “born to do.”
Friedman now is CEO and owner of Robert Andrews Laser & Medical Aesthetics, with two locations in Colorado Springs, and plans to open one in Pueblo this year. She took time to talk about her background as a battlefield nurse and her clinic.
How has your career background prepared you for your current position?
I joined the Air Force at age 18, and was put into information systems technology [in Germany]. Then I was selected three years later to teach information systems technology at Keesler AFB in Mississippi and also accepted into a nursing program for a Bachelor of Science in nursing.
While [still] teaching, I was later accepted into a master of business administration program with an emphasis in info systems technology. I became a battlefield nurse for the Air Force, and also got accepted by the Air Force Surgeon General’s Office for Joint Service Operations, a program that put all electronic medical records together. Amongst that I was deployed in 2002 to Iraq as a reservist. The best thing was I became really good at doing procedures — suturing, inserting chest tubes, removing shrapnel.
So after returning [to the States], I became a hospital nursing supervisor in Maryland. Then in 2006, I moved to Colorado … and became operations manager at the ER for Memorial Central. In 2006 to 2007, it was the seventh-busiest ER in the nation. I oversaw info systems, ER budget and emergency management systems, supplies, operations and was a physician liaison.
I left the ER in 2007 and worked with my youngest daughter for a while. She has Asperger Syndrome and she needed me. … I’d been wanting to start my own business for about 10 years. I saw so much trauma that I wanted to see people leave happy — and that’s not often the case in trauma. So in 2012, I went back to school and got certified in every aspect of medical aesthetics and took a medical director course. I wanted to form a company that empowered women and touched them every day — and make it affordable to everyday women and change lives. I know how to run a hospital and [do] trauma care, so I knew I could do this.
Even though it’s a beauty industry, it has to be run like a medical practice. Over the years, I had seen doctors losing the ability to make money after so many years of going to school, and I wanted to provide a structured environment for them and opportunity — just like we had in the military. They teach you in the military to be structured and follow procedures and be standardized. So I established the structure and make sure people are trained and certified so clients will be safe.
What are the challenges in this business?
The biggest challenge is starting something from the ground up, research, documenting, and finding staff who are qualified, with good people skills and have a keen eye for detail of a person’s facial structure and anatomy. Then we have to keep up with training for myself and staff and stay in front of technology. For instance, we have the only Palomar Icon Laser in Colorado Springs (and there are only two in Denver). It’s the safest, most technologically advanced FDA-approved laser in the industry. And I’ve implemented electronic medical records, which is not common in this industry.
What are the rewards in this line of work?
I love having people feel happy afterward. It’s a sisterhood kind of thing — and everyone is so excited, clients and their friends. They look in the mirror and feel good about themselves. We don’t want to change how someone looks; we want to help them look like their best self. Part of that includes providing a limousine service for people who’ve had ablative [skin resurfacing] procedures, and sending a nurse to check on them for the next two days afterward, so the client doesn’t have to return to the clinic until they’re healed enough and confident enough to leave the house.
I feel rewarded knowing I’m changing this industry. It’s not like on TV shows for people who are very wealthy or superficial. It’s for the everyday person who works hard and wants to feel better about themselves — from a facial or body massage to Botox injections. It’s a way to invest in themselves, in addition to going to the gym and eating right.
What community events are you involved in?
I’ve always been involved at my children’s schools, teaching math weekly and volunteering at school events. I was an officer of the Colorado Emergency Nursing Association board several times over the years. I also volunteer at Woodmen Valley Chapel in youth ministry and at events. And I’m involved in Peregrine community events.