When I signed up for the 10 day Healwell course I intended to become a massage therapist working in a hospital. It was my dream, or so I thought. Nearly five years later, I have not worked in a hospital as a massage therapist, nor volunteered at a hospital as a massage therapist, yet I am still profoundly grateful I attended the stewardship program. Here’s why…
Healwell is an incredible experience of being in a supportive environment of classmates and instructors in a hospital setting. The lessons and insights learned in working in the ICU, oncology and rehab floors and the dynamics of each patient, and sometimes their family members in the room are invaluable to any massage therapist. Learning skills such as charting as part of electronic medical records (EMR), positioning in hospital beds, using hospital beds, working around oxygen and IV lines, and interacting with hospital staff etc. are incredibly valuable skills. And also understanding the unpredictability and assortment of challenges that arise when working in a hospital setting.
I have numerous examples from my stewardship experience, however one patient encounter still resonates with me today. I was assigned a room where the patient was actively dying from leukemia, his family was also present. As my classmate and I walked toward his room my own nerves and self-doubt kicked in as I was a rather new massage therapist. My classmate, with more years of experience than I, put her hands on my shoulders and said ‘trust yourself’. Because we walked through that hospital room door we touched a family. I watched vital signs stabilized on a monitor. I held shoulders as family members cried. Through that experience I was profoundly touched and reassured of what massage therapists can offer to the world.
All of these skills were 100% transferable to my own office in working with persons in cancer treatment or a cancer history, and also in my work for 3.5 years as a traveling massage therapist with hospice going into patient homes and nursing facilities. I learned necessary skills throughout the stewardship program and also learned to be adaptable, to trust my training as a massage therapist and mostly to be fully present with a patient when so many other things were going on around them. Being present with a patient is a skill which transfers anywhere, and was reiterated numerous times during the course, through patient interactions and also class activities.
Being part of the Stewardship Program and having a small glimpse of working in a hospital profoundly helped me to shape my private massage practice. I realized that working in my office is a better arrangement for me and that many times I have repeat clients after they are discharged from the hospital, or after their weekly chemo infusion. My office can be a place of calm for those going through or recovering from medical treatment who want a break from their medical journey and that my skills as a massage therapist can allow a client to be supported and to be exactly where they are in their process.
Oncology Massage Therapist
Malaika Massage Therapy