Should You Take Courses In Your First Year of Massage Practice? Krista Dicks, RMT
12:51AM Jul 9, 2022
We're gonna we're gonna break it all down. No education is ever wasted. Who do you want to be as a massage therapist? And then you got to work yourself backwards? What are the new devices? What are the new tools that might be of benefit to you and your clients?
Hello, radical massage therapist. My name is Krista and I'm a registered massage therapist in Ottawa, Canada, and I am excited to bring you a solo episode of the radical RMT Podcast. Today, we are going to be talking about whether or not you should take courses in your first year in practice. Now, if you are beyond your first year, I understand this might be relevant to you. But if you feel like it can provide some value, if you are in your first year of practice, or you are in school, or you're thinking of being a massage therapist, or you are mentoring a up and coming massage therapists, perhaps take this into consideration. And I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject as well. This is personal experience. I am 16 years in practice. So I am looking back. You know, with hindsight and 2020, what was best for me. But my personal opinion on should you take courses in your first year in practice? My answer is no, I don't think you should be taking courses in your first year in practice, but everybody is different. And I will also say that no education is ever wasted. So if you have taken courses, and you don't feel like they have gone anywhere for you, I promise you at some random moment in your life, maybe years and years and years from now something that you learned in that random course, that you feel like you've wasted your money on but it wasn't clear, it'll come up at some point that your skills will be needed, you will have an answer to a question. You know, even if it's a pub trivia night, you know, you will save the day, because of something that you learned. In your past experience, I
promise you it will come up again. And it'll be it'll be awesome. When it does. So why don't I feel that you should take courses in your first year in practice. So my personal experience as a massage therapist, you know, I got out into the real world in practice. And I began using the skills that I learned from school and treating those common injuries and tensions that we we learned how to treat in school, right, we have a whole range of treatments that that we can provide. And that was very happy with them. What I loved about the training that we got, though, was lymphatic massage, I absolutely was drawn to I lymphatic massage treatments, I thought that everybody needed a lymphatic massage, I saw the health benefits of it. And our training was wonderful. And I believe that you can take the training from from school and apply it to your practice and you will still treat safely and effectively. But I wanted to dive deeper. And I took a lymphatic massage in my first year in practice. And this is a little bit backwards. And I'm all over the place I understand because I've already said don't take courses. And here I am explaining why I took a class in my first year. But I really did. I love the practice. And I wanted to learn more about it. And of course, like you know, as you're you're doing research for the courses, you find out that one of the courses is happening in a few months and you sign up and it's just kind of snowballs. From there. What I also saw in the lymphatic massage training was that it was going to provide me with a technique that I could use pretty much for ever as a massage therapist. So it was going to provide an effective treatment, but I would not be taxing my body. So if later on in life, I needed to just fall back completely on lymphatic massage clients I could and they come and go in my practice I certainly do not advertise as a full blown lymphatic massage therapist a solo like that's that's all that I do. But it is in my bio it is in my menu. And so people do do book for various reasons. And it is really interesting to see what that ebb and flow of reasons are. So I did take courses in my first year in practice. The other course I took was also I became a certified infant massage instructor. I don't exactly know where this came from. Actually I do and I will explain a little bit later on. Um, so that I just I just understand now why I did take it because I've got it in my in my notes as one of the the topics anyway. So basically, I became a certified infant massage instructor because we did learn infant massage in school. And it was a wonderful practice. And it was very helpful. And I feel that you should feel comfortable to go out and teach parents and caregivers how to provide quality massage for their infants. But I was not comfortable around infants at the time. And I wanted to be more confident, I wanted to help myself to probably get better at this technique so that I could be seen as more of a professional, I think that when a parent brings their infant to you, they want to be darn sure that you are confident in your technique and the technique I could handle for the like the most part. But I didn't really feel comfortable like handling the infant, even though the the parent is doing the massage, but at the same time, like the demonstrating and the language and my confidence. And will this benefit your infant, even though I knew that it would as a professional, I don't have kids, I don't have that experience of noticing the benefits been in my own kids. So I feel like parents are also looking for that one gig, they
want somebody who knows definitely what they're doing. And then they also they there's that other element of Yeah, but like do you know from personal experience, so because I was not a parent, I decided that I would take the certified infant massage course, this is also a technique that I feel it might come in handy later on in my life. Because it is a very, as a hands off technique for me, I am just training the parent or caregiver how to give a wonderful massage, I can do it myself as a trained registered massage therapist. But ultimately, that is a technique that I have in my back pocket later on, if I do need to, you know fall back on that as a technique that is not going to be taxing on my body if I'm unable to provide the type of massage treatments I do now. So it was a little bit of a backwards intro, don't take courses that I tell you about two courses that I've taken in my first year in practice, we're gonna, we're gonna break it all down. So what I would recommend that you do in your first year in practice, again, everybody's different. Remember, just my personal experience and opinion, I would actually recommend that you reverse engineer the type of practice that you want, the type of massage therapist you want to be, and the type of population that you want to see, right when we get out of school, we have so many options, I will be honest that I didn't even realise you know how many options were in front of us as a massage therapist which direction we could go you could you know, be an a massage therapist for athletes, you could be a you know, work with the elderly, you could work with infants, you could work on anything in between, you could specifically pick a population that you want to work with and just run with it learning techniques. And just just only seeing that type of clientele. Or you can see the general population, I still typically see a general population, you know, back neck shoulders is my bread and butter and I get a lot of desk desk posture type clients. Um, so I would recommend you you think of that long term vision, what type of practice Do you want to have? Who do you want to be as a massage therapist, and then you got to work yourself backwards. So what courses do I need to take in order to become that professional massage therapist? And obviously this is going to change, right? You might feel one way now and that could evolve over time as well. And remember, that's going to be okay, you you know you're never going to waste I said your education right. So that's one technique that I would would recommend and if you need help with that type of reverse engineering I love that stuff. And I think it's something that we don't always do and it's certainly something that I didn't fully look into when I first started in learning my courses, right like I do, I do see some longevity these two courses that I did take early on in my practice I did them for those reasons to have a more sustainable practice. But I didn't see myself the reason why I feel like the infant massage has not been not been something that I've pursued like I don't see myself as like being go to go to I don't want an an only infant massage practice. I don't feel feel that's particularly like my my niche or my comfort zone right? But perhaps that is your zone of comfort and you want to run with having a you know a practice full of it. Babies then absolutely reverse engineer that. And what does that look like? OneNote some of the ways that you can do this, right are, are looking at practitioners who already have a type of clinic that you would like to aspire to be, and see what trainings, they have what they offer in their clinic, and then you work yourself backwards. What are your clients asking for? So this is another point to what you should consider why I don't say you should take courses in your first year in practice, but wait it out. And when you're practising in your first year, like, get your hands on people's bodies, and really, you know, use what you've learned from school. Because that is we're just, we're so new and so fresh, and we have so much wonderful knowledge in our hands. And I feel like when you kind of get sidetracked and go off and learn a different technique, you're not really absorbing and being able to use everything that we learned in school. We have a lot of hands on practical experience in school, of course. But I feel like for me, personally, I,
I focused so much on getting the work done, making sure that I got good grades, and that I obviously passed my exams, that once I got out of that, you know, any little thing could kind of derail me. And if I wasn't using those techniques on a regular basis, then I really did lose them. And I have to go back and refresh my memory sometimes or another therapist as a technique. I'm like, Oh, my God, I forgot about how awesome that one was. So that's kind of fun, too. So basically, what are your clients asked me for? So when you're in your first year in practice, you're getting your hands on bodies? What is it that they're needing more of from you? So you've learned all your techniques in school and you're applying them? But maybe you had a little bit of a roadblock with one client? And you're like, Hmm, okay, like, what, what could help this client along more, and I am huge. I hugely believe that you should, you should refer out, okay, first of all, if you do not have the skills, and you can refer out, but if you consistently refer out to somebody in particular, maybe there is a skill there that you can learn. And then you can keep that client within your practice full time, you know, you're not referring out and then having them come back for your massages. What are they needing more from you at cetera. So like, if there's something that you feel like you're getting, you know, you're bumping into that roadblock, what's the next step that you can take? I find that it's changed a little bit here in Ontario with our credits, and I'm very happy with this. I know, I know, a lot of massage therapists, it's not a popular opinion, I am very happy with the way that our continuing education has gone with the Ontario registered massage therapists. But I feel that it gives us more free will to choose the courses that will benefit our practice. And before this, it was just about getting the credit. So a lot of massage therapists in my my observation, would reach the end of their term where they needed all of their credits, and go, Oh, crap, I need 30 credits in three months. And they would just look for courses that were in the area, they would look for courses that had the most credits where they could get the most bang for their buck. And they would just pile on those courses as fast as they could, in a short amount of time. And again, no education is wasted. But maybe it just wasn't like it's not a course that you need right now. Or it's not a course it's going to serve your clients right now. And it and it's you know, I think if you can look at that timeline, and look at it from the beginning of the three years, instead of the very end of the three years for our credit kind of completion, every every sort of sequence, then, you know, you might serve your clients better, and you might spend your money better. And you might also just feel better about your practice. So now when you know the direction you want to go, you're taking courses because you know you want them you know you need them, you know that your client is going to benefit from them. You're not taking them because it's trendy. Like a cool technique that's out there and it's trendy and you want those letters behind your name. You actually know it's going to benefit your client, you're going to use it like the next day in practice. Those are the courses that I'm looking for now, in my 16 years of practice. I immediately think when I'm learning a technique, I know exactly who I'm going to apply it to the next day and if they are not on my schedule, in that sort of planning time. Am I like coming up, I will let them know that I've just learned this new technique, and I would love for them to experience it, can they come in for a, you know, an appointment sooner than later. And that's, that's awesome, because that's just gonna help keep your schedule full as well. So again, not because it's trendy, not because it's happening in your area, not because you need the credits. But because you actually want to learn this technique, you're going to apply it to your clients, and they're gonna love it, and you're gonna love love it as well.
Then, basically, and again, as soon as I got a new new therapist, you might not know you can have this game plan, and then things could change down the line. And that's going to be okay, especially as a new therapist, like the direction you think you're going is not the direction you might end up in. And it's a super exciting journey as well. So another suggestion is that you look at the populations and the technologies. So I sort of call this like, the crystal ball method, right. So if you're looking ahead to the future, you think about our profession, and we want to be progressive, right? We do. We want to the population to see us as healthcare professionals that can help be a continuous source of health and education, as they progress in their own lives, we want to stay relevant to them as well. But we also I believe, should stay up with the times. And we shouldn't be afraid of technology. And we should also be really considering what it is that's going to be needed in 510 years from now. And this might also this is going to help you decide on the courses that you're going to need to take. So, you know, when it comes to technology, what are the new devices, what are the new tools that are that are up and coming that might be of benefit to you and your clients moving forward. And especially if you're thinking five or 10 years down the road, think about how much that technology might save you. And your body might be a bit of an investment now, but it might be worth it in the long run, because you will already be at the forefront of something that clients are looking for, you know, if they starting to they start to google it and you're the the the first person that comes up.
So think about that I don't have any, like real examples of technology. I don't use any in my practice. And I'm always curious about them. I don't feel that it fits in with my style right now. But you know, definitely think about what what is out there. There are podcast episodes as well that I have from practitioners who, who are big advocates for technology in their practice. And it's helping to save their bodies, and it's helping to increase their revenue. And it's helping their clients above all. So in addition to using your sort of crystal ball to look at the technologies that are coming up that people will be demanding in the future. And the wonderful thing about being a massage therapist as well in Ontario is that our scope of practice is broadened. So really, you know, take take it and use that as well. Depending on your area, I know that like you might not be able to use certain technologies. But that's also an opportunity maybe for you to advocate for them and the benefits of them and how they should be under your umbrella of massage therapy. So second piece of that is what are the populations that are going to need massage in the future. This is really exciting. Because I mean, even when I was beginning as a massage therapist, there was that chatter of like the baby boomers are going to need care. So this is still relevant. Whether you are starting your massage journey today, or even in like five years. If you're like in school now. And you're starting your practice in five years, it'll still be relevant. But it is about to like blow up as far as like the baby boomer population. And this is just one example of a population that's going to need massage therapy. In the future, there is going to be demand because their bodies are going to need it there's going to be demand because their finances will be able to support it. Many of them do have insurance and there's going to continue they insurance plan even into retirement they still get some benefits, but they also have that that retirement income. That's a little bit that has some like it has some disposable qualities to it. Depending on the economy I get that and depending on their their comfort with spending. But I think this is a population that we can definitely target as massage therapists to serve them. Now we're what does that mean? I think I could probably do a full episode on this and if there's anybody out there that would love to join me on this conversation. That would be awesome. But you know our populations were Where can you take your practice, you can take it mobile. So maybe you want to look at moving your practice into a mobile type setting, right where you're going to the person's home because this is going to serve that Boomer population. I don't know if they like being called boomers. So I'm gonna have to do some research on what the ages are, I have a friend who is a Boomer and she, she appreciates that I call her that. It's okay. She calls me a millennial, even though I'm on the older side. So, you know, we just, we just go back and forth on each other for that. But let's focus on what they're going to need that that generation that's about to retire and is going to need our care. So mobile is one option, looking into long term retirement facilities. So how can we get our practices into these types of facilities, and how we can benefit the population that's in those facilities, and then help us as well? We could also look at it from accessible care, right? So we're also although there is a population, part of the population is going to be able to afford our services, some of them might not, but they're going to need them. So how can we start to advocate again, for our being part of accessible care, or health care, as massage therapists, you know, we we are working towards this. And maybe with your encouragement and participation as well, this is going to help to move that forward. Accessible care can also mean when you are thinking of setting up your practice, right, making sure that it is accessible to those who may be in wheelchairs, or have mobility issues as well, right? Maybe techniques, as well as the technology aside, think about the techniques that you can use on this population. So for me personally, like I have my lymphatics, and I feel like this is going to be very relevant to the boomer generation. But also,
you know, the unfortunate diseases that can happen as we age as well, right? lymphatic massage is very common and very helpful with cancer patients, whether they are post surgery, or whether it is or whether it's a palliative care scenario as well. And then thinking about palliative care, and using massage in palliative care as well. So going all the way to the end of that spectrum, that massage is a wonderful service to provide. For those at the end of life I've been, I've participated in that as well. And it's been a very humbling and rewarding like experience. So those are like some of my points as to why what I why I feel you shouldn't take courses in your first year in practice, but things that you can start to look at a now and this you can do this anytime I think even not in your first year of practice. But I think that you can start to look now at what you what you can take in the future, right. So no matter how many years you are, in practice, I hope this has been helpful for you to sort of break down what what what courses you should be taking, because sometimes we don't know, I get it, we don't know. But if you really start to look at the population that you serve, what your clients need, reverse engineer your practice, and then look into the future for the populations that are gonna need our services and the technologies that are coming are here, but are still like under the radar, you know, and you can be one of the first ones to offer it and then your practice might boom, when people are actually googling for this service, then the take those into consideration, nobody's journey is going to be the same I hope, you know, I can provide some clarity remember, you want to look into the longevity of your practice. So I mean, I know that something like a RT active release technique can be so effective. But is that a technique that you feel you can sustain for your your body right like it's it's does have elements that make it easier for us, but it does have some very physically demanding elements to it as well. So that is just one example where you know, it's a popular technique. It's helpful. It's one that clients are looking for, but they might not know why. And as a massage therapist, we can do a lot of Thai style, a style of AR t right? It's not AR T but it's a it's a style. So take that into consideration as well. Maybe you already have the skills when you're looking at these these courses. I would love to hear your feedback on this episode I'm available at the radical rmt.com I'm are at the radical RMT on Instagram. And thank you so much for listening and I hope you have an awesome day