The West Coast College of Massage Therapy alumni are always out making a difference in their communities. We spoke with James Johnston; a Victoria Campus graduate from 2010. He currently works for the City of Langford Fire and Rescue and writes for and runs theMTDC, a blog for massage therapist. All this while working as an RMT.
What pushed you to become an RMT?
I was an industrial first aid attendant in a sawmill. When the mill shut down I decided it was time to go back to school, so I did some aptitude testing to see what would come up. I knew I wanted to be in healthcare as I enjoyed working on people and was good at the first aid end of things. When I did the testing, massage therapy was one of the things that came up as an option. I would have never thought of being a RMT if I hadn’t done that aptitude test, but when I found out you could work in sports that clinched it for me and I registered for school that fall.
While you were at WCCMT, what was your favourite course?
It’s hard to narrow it down to one course but I would say therapeutic exercise and sport massage.
What do you like most about being an RMT?
Again hard to narrow it down to one thing. Definitely working in sport and being part of a team, being able to help athletes and being part of helping them perform better is really rewarding. Also when I look at my schedule for the day and think, “cool I get to hang out with these people today”. The relationships you build with your patients is a pretty cool thing, they’re always happy to come in and see you and you get to make a big difference in their day/week.
What is it like working for the City of Langford Fire Rescue, what is your role and what does it entail?
I work as a dispatcher/communications operator with Langford and volunteer as a firefighter in Metchosin. Working as a communications operator you are taking 911 calls and dispatching several different fire departments when there is an emergency. It can get pretty hectic sometimes when there are emergencies going on in different communities and you’re trying to manage communications between them all. As a volunteer with the fire department, I’m a lieutenant which means responding to various emergencies ranging from a medical call to a structure fire to an MVI and also being involved in the training aspects with new recruits and firefighters in the department.
Do the skills you need for one ever serve you when doing the other?
Everyday. Having experience responding to medical calls and doing first aid makes me prepared should I ever have to deal with a medical emergency in a clinical setting. As healthcare professionals, I believe it’s our responsibility to be able to deal with anything like this should it happen to one of our patients in our clinic.
It has also given me the opportunity to use my experience to teach first aid to other RMT’s and this year have had the opportunity to travel to some different communities to connect with and teach more of my fellow RMT’s. This year I will also be able to help therapists involved in our Sport PPG by teaching and certifying them as Sport First Responders.
Can you tell us a bit about theMTDC and its background?
theMTDC is a blog about massage therapy and improving the perception of what we do. Its intent is to be a collaborative blog to share knowledge and ideas among therapists. We’ve had articles from physical therapists, rolfers, RMT’s, CMT’s, AT’s and even clinical counsellors. As we build it up, we want it to be a way for us all to not only gain knowledge, but also highlight the great things massage therapy does and the great things massage therapists are doing.
What is your role?
I created it, manage it and contribute on it.
What inspired you to start this blog?
It all started with a conversation with Jon Goodman who started thePTDC which is a site for personal trainers. As we talked we realized there is a lot of similarities in both industries. Different levels of certification, the need for regulation and quite frankly neither industry gets the respect it deserves. So with his encouragement, I started theMTDC to be a gathering place for everyone in the industry to come together.
What is your ebook about and what inspired you to write it?
The ebook on the site is about first aid and some advanced first aid techniques. Since we are now required to know first aid to help our patients, I thought it would be a good thing to develop so RMT’s would also have an idea of what First Responders are going to do if they have to come to your clinic and also just to have some more information on the topic.
I have another one that I wrote all about how massage therapists can use social media to help market their practice. It should be up on the site soon.
Do you have any RMT anecdotes or stories you would like to share?
I’m not sure if it would be an anecdote or story but one thing is, if there is something about our industry you’re passionate about, work your ass and chase after it. When I started, I knew I wanted to work in sport. I spent tons of time volunteering and it led into some great opportunities. I’ve been able to work with the men’s rugby 7’s national team and this past August was hired by Hockey Canada to work with the women’s development program. Whatever it is you want to do, you can make it happen it will just take some hard work and time.
What advice would you give to people who are thinking of becoming an RMT?
Be sure that you’re comfortable being in business for yourself. Chances are you’re going to get a start working in someone else’s clinic, but you’re still a contractor and an entrepreneur. You have to be a self-starter, market yourself, manage finances and be a business person.
What advice would you give to someone who is currently in the program?
Right now, school is hard and you’re probably getting frustrated, wondering if it’s worth it. IT IS.
Try as many outreaches as you can while you’re there. Work in sport, work with the elderly, work with people who have Parkinson’s, arthritis, brain injuries, get your hands on as many different people and as many different pathologies as possible. Don’t pigeon hole yourself into one thing, you may find something to be passionate about that you didn’t even know you’d like or was possible. Plus seeing as many different patients and pathologies as possible will make you a better practitioner.
Finally, what advice would you give someone who has recently graduated?
Chase your passion. If you’re showing up every day and you get to do work you’re truly interested in and passionate about, it won’t feel like work… and NEVER stop learning. Just because you’re only required to do a certain amount of CEC’s, do more, be the practitioner who constantly improves and gets better.
Thanks to James for sharing his experiences with us! Want to share your story? Contact [email protected] to be featured in our blog. As always, WCCMT would love to see you on LinkedIn, our New Westminster Facebook Page or our WCCMT/CCMH Facebook Page so you can stay connected with our community.