Creating Your Own Path

Creating Your Own Path


The West Coast College of Massage Therapy  spoke with Tanya Alton; a Victoria Campus graduate. She shared with us the importance of making your own opportunities and the fun of helping out in your community.

What made you want to become an RMT?

Growing up in a small town, we didn’t have wonderful shopping malls or most amenities that people growing up in cities are accustom to. We did however, have access to ocean, river and lake sports, spectacular mountain hiking and a ski hill 30 minutes away. Sports and outdoor activities were an incredibly large part of my family and social life. In high school, science and sports came naturally to me. I played basketball and soccer competitively. Breaking down movements, learning proper biomechanics, and game theory were consistently focused on. I think that taught me critical thinking skills and a foundation for kinematics. I remember sitting beside my best friend in history class and saying “Psstt, want a hand massage?” then promptly pulling out three lotion options from my pencil case.  Becoming an RMT was a pretty natural choice.

Why did you choose WCCMT?

I had done my research both online and in person. When doing my online research, I looked at the schools available and liked that WCCMT has multiple campuses across the country. Knowing that there was a larger network of people from different regions and perspectives, added a validity to the school. It made sense that the education being offered by this diverse group would be uniquely superior and I wanted the best.

When I did a tour of the school, I knew it was where I would train. The orientation was organized and seamless. The staff at WCCMT Victoria were welcoming and happy to answer all my questions. They did a great job of creating a picture of what to expect, so my decision was well informed.

What was your favourite part about being at the college?

Victoria is a vivacious city. As a student at WCCMT Victoria you have access to an incredible culinary scene, outdoor activities, and cultural charm. It’s an inspiring place to study!

I received a remarkable amount of support as a student. The administration and teaching staff at WCCMT Victoria go above and beyond for their students. I felt their genuine interest to help me learn and succeed. The small class sizes facilitate an intimate learning environment that worked well for me.

I consider my graduating class to be an exceptional group of people. We supported each other, shared information and tackled challenges as a team rather than individual students. This strategy produced above average practitioners.

I look back on my experience with an overwhelming amount of pride and gratitude!

What are you currently doing now and how did you get there?

As a student, we received an invite to a clinic open house/mixer. A group of us went to practice our networking skills. I was later contacted for an interview, and have been working in that same multi-disciplinary clinic since.  I was very fortunate.

As RMTs I think it’s important to create your own opportunities, get out in the community and try something new. I used to volunteer in the Pain Clinic at the Royal Jubilee Hospital which gave me invaluable insight into Pain Science. I was interested in the program and knew I needed to learn more about recent advances in Pain Science, not just from an RMT’s point of view, but how the medical system as a whole was approaching pain. I got to interact with patients in a non-hands on capacity which challenged me to broaden my perspective. I absorbed everything I could and took it back to my practice. It completely changed the way I treat.

I love supporting my community through on-sites at sports events. It’s fun to get out of the treatment room, learn more about various sports and share techniques with fellow RMTs.

What do you plan to do with your career moving forward? 

I just started working at WCCMT Victoria and couldn’t be more excited. Being around massage students is nostalgic and inspiring all at the same time. I am also working towards my degree is Health Science through Thompson Rivers University.  From there, who knows, there are so many possibilities.

What was your biggest concern after you graduated?

I doubled down for licensing exams, when they were over, I must have slept for two weeks straight. I then set my sights on building my practice.  It can be intimidating, to be an RMT in your first year.  It’s like riding a bike for the first time without training wheels.  I was fortunate to be working with experienced RMTs kind enough to support me through that process.  I now run a mentorship program within our clinic for new RMTs to help them build their own practice.

What do you find most rewarding about being an RMT?

My career is dedicated to educating and supporting people on their healthcare journeys.  Every new piece of information we teach our patients, decrease their pain or build a successful home care plan has the ability to positively impact their lives. That’s a powerful purpose!

I also love the freedom this career affords me.  I love being in charge of my own schedule, choosing what I learn, and the direction of my practice.

What would be your advice for someone who would like to become an RMT?

Learning how you learn and knowing how to organize your study schedule is half the battle.

  • Your classmates are your allies not your competition. Act as a team, share information and help each other out.
  • Make proper biomechanics your top priority. Do whatever you have to do, but make it happen!  I leave myself a post it in my treatment room to remind myself.
  • Create your own opportunities. This career offers more freedom than most, but seeking out interests and hunting down leads is up to you.
  • Stay inspired. Being an RMT can be as static or dynamic as you choose.  Get excited about continuing education, trying new techniques, or a challenging new case.

Thanks to Tanya for sharing her 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.

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