We chatted with RMT Lindsay E. Smith about her time at CCMH and the importance of the Student Clinic where she was able to gain hands-on experience working with patients living with fibromyalgia, COPD, post-stroke paralysis, MS and depression.
Why did you decide to become a RMT?
The decision to become a Massage Therapist came at the head of a perfect storm in my life. I was in my late twenties, had no professional credentials, had just left a terrible job in the service industry, came out of a long-term relationship, and moved back in with my parents. At the height of all this, someone recommended that I take some time for myself and get a massage to unwind. I took that advice, and during my session the RMT remarked that I had “the forearms of a Massage Therapist.” She meant tight, of course; however that caused me to have a lightbulb moment. A week later, I was enrolled in my prerequisite courses and only two months later I started in January in the fast-track program.
Why did you choose to go to CCMH/WCCMT?
The silly answer is that they had the nicest website! The truer answer is that from the moment I reached out and made contact, they really made the whole process feel natural and worthwhile. When I came to the school for my first tour, it felt like a sort of homecoming. During that tour I got to sit in on a Regional Anatomy lecture of the hand. While I had initially gone into massage with spa interests in mind, it ended up being the hard sciences that had me hooked!
I’d love to hear about your experience at Thompson Rivers. Looks like you just finished recently. Congrats!
I had a wonderful time continuing my education at TRU. They were very accommodating in allowing me to transfer my previous University credits, meaning I had only to complete 9 courses in order to graduate. Given that Massage Therapy is so flexible in terms of scheduling, I was able to work and complete 1-3 courses a semester. At that rate, it took me about 20 months to complete the whole program. It was certainly challenging at times, but I loved the subject matter. I chose to complete the Bachelor of Health Sciences program (the other option for CCMH grads is the Bachelor of General Studies), which let me refine my research skills and delve into hot topics in the world of public health. Completing that opened the door for me to apply to graduate programs, and was a contributing factor in me getting hired to instruct Massage Therapy at a local college. TRU was the perfect University experience for me and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to ladder their education into an undergraduate degree.
What’s the biggest difference between student clinic/practicums and real life practice?
When working in student clinic, the whole treatment process is very sequential and by-the-book. Sometimes, some tests and aspects of the treatment are redundant, but with good reason. For one thing, a student has yet to develop the intuition to know how to proceed, and so may test for things unnecessarily or may treat certain things inefficiently.
However, the important thing to remember is that it’s a teaching clinic, and I encourage my students that even if a client comes in for just a relaxation massage, that they complete a full assessment for the sake of practice. Once you’re out in the working world, the whole process becomes more streamlined and intuitive. However, those skills get rusty if you don’t use them! Having taught an assessments course myself, I don’t think it’s a bad idea for even seasoned Massage Therapists to crack open their old assessments textbooks and find a willing partner to practice some of those special tests on. Oh dear; now that I’ve said that, I can hear the collective CCMH class of 2013 groaning at me.
Do you have any advice to new or aspiring RMTs?
From my observations, Massage Therapy has to be one of the most universally appealing careers out there. For some it’s their first, but for many it’s another career in a long line of others. For anyone who fears being the oldest person in the classroom, well, I can’t guarantee that you won’t be! But massage is a career that benefits from its practitioners having some wisdom and life experience. For those fresh from high school or only a few years along, I think that Massage can help to cultivate a fantastic foundation of empathy, tact, communication skills, and somatic awareness that will be immensely valuable in years to come.
Whether you’re a millennial or not, the norm nowadays is to expect a career trajectory that is constantly changing. With that in mind, what better career to choose for yourself? Massage Therapy allows for versatile working hours, allows you to maintain a great work-life balance, has numerous fields that you can choose to specialize in and serves as a fantastic springboard from which to pursue higher education and other healthcare modalities. Plus, it helps to keep you active and gives you the post-treatment rush of knowing that you’ve helped improve somebody’s well-being!
Thanks for the insights, Lindsay!
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