Registered Massage Therapist
I was born/grew up in: Stephenville, NL, Canada
I now live in: St. John’s, NL, Canada
I completed my training/education at: ICT – Northumberland College, in Halifax, Nova Scotia (2200 hour program)
Do you self-identify as First Nation, Métis or Inuit (FNMI)?
Yes, I am a member of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation.
Describe what you do at work.
I guess the first thing that people think of when they hear “massage therapist” is someone who treats peoples’ sore muscles by physical manipulation. And to a large extent that is true. Many of the people who come to me are experiencing pain but the cause of that pain might not be as simple as “sore muscles”. Sometime discomfort is caused by poor posture. Sometimes it occurs as the result of an accident or physical damage to the body and nerves. One of the roles I play is to diagnose the cause of the discomfort. The I develop a treatment plan to allow the client to function normally in day-to-day activities. For some clients the treatment plan is straight forward. For others, getting to the root of the problem and devising an effective treatment plan involves a lot of problem solving and decision making. In some unique or troublesome cases it may require me to consult various books.
Sometimes I will discuss possible treatment options with colleagues. In cases where there was significant trauma (e.g., as a result of an automobile accident) it is often necessary to revisit the treatment goals and change approaches during the rehabilitation process. In many ways our bodies are really simple but in other ways so very complicated. For example, you may feel pain in one area but in fact it is coming from several different areas. Sometimes diagnosing the issue is a bit like solving a puzzle. In the six years that I’ve been working as an RMT I’ve learned that each clinic is very different. In some clinics there is a receptionist who books your sessions, collects payment, and manages the books. So, while I will always use my scientific understanding of anatomy, physiology and neurology to apply manual manipulation, in some situations I book in my clients, manage my accounts, keep records up to date, and collect payments.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
I think my job has a huge impact on the lives of my clients. Studies have shown that massage therapy improves the overall well being of both mind and body as it reduces stress levels and improves muscle and joint movement. For those people who come to me to help them with issues related to pain or discomfort, it is easy to see how what I do had a positive impact on their quality of life.
What motivates you in your career?
It may sound cliché but the fact that I’m helping people feel better, in both mind and body, is what really motivates me. It’s a great feeling when a person is able to get back to work and engage in regular life activities after treatments that have reduced or removed their pain. It is really great when a patient is surprised at how much better they feel so quickly!
I really enjoy the fact that I’m always learning new things. To maintain your licence in this province you have to complete a certain number of credit hours every three years. This helps me keep up with changes in technique and research related to my role as a RMT and that helps me to be the best I can be at my job.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
I didn’t start out to be a RMT. I originally went to university and studied History and Fine Arts with the thought that I would teach high school. Part way though I started to realize this was not for me but I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. Along the way I received massage therapy for a work-related injury. I was so pleased with the results that I started thinking about this as a career. I learned that the training involved a lot of biology and working with your hands. Since I enjoyed biology in high school and, as an artist, I always found the human body, the way it is built and the way it moves to be both beautiful and fascinating.
Since I always enjoyed studying anything to do with the human body I felt this career would be a good match and, I’m glad to say, I was right! Because I entered into this program later in life, I was older than the other students in my class. Also, because I was studying arts a lot of my science knowledge was lost. As a result, I had to relearn a lot of the things that the instructors took for granted that the students would know. I also have a hearing impairment and that was a bit difficult at first. I overcame these challenges by working harder and doing a lot of extra reading and rereading of the course materials. I organized a study group that met regularly and really helped me keep on track.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
In my spare time I like to spend time with my dog and to hike the trails near my home. I enjoy reading, painting, sewing and watching television. As a massage therapist, I do some volunteer work at special events such as Spin4Kids, a program to encourage kids to get active, blood drives, sporting events, and other events to promote healthy lifestyles.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Regardless of what career you aspire to, work hard – it truly pays off! Develop your organization skills as organized materials makes for easier studying. Stay positive! And ask questions – lots of them!