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Stewardship FAQ

Who Should Apply

The stewardship is designed for practicing, licensed/certified massage therapists with at least one year of experience* who want to cultivate greater presence, confidence and clinical skill providing massage therapy in the hospital setting. This is an advanced course for massage therapists who want to challenge themselves in a uniquely supportive educational environment.

*If you are interested in applying to the Stewardship, but have less than one year of experience practicing massage therapy, contact us for details.

What does Healwell look for in a steward?

We expect our stewards to possess outstanding professionalism, integrity and communication as well as uncommon compassion. It is our responsibility to our profession to challenge massage therapists to achieve unparalleled clinical excellence and also to ensure that only practitioners with strong intellectual, physical and emotional capabilities touch patients, families and staff as part of this program. Practitioners will need clear boundaries, compassion, strong communication skills and clinical judgment, physical and emotional stability and adaptability.

You must be able to perform the essential functions of a massage therapist including standing for as long as three hours at a time without additional support.

Fluency in written and spoken English is essential to patient safety and successful completion of the program. In some cases, a prospective steward may be asked to submit results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or equivalent examination.

Please contact if you have questions about accommodations or modifications that might be necessary in order for you to participate fully.

As a steward, what do I have to do?

Stewards are expected to act in a professional, responsible and safe manner at all times. It is also essential that you come prepared to have fun and to be surprised. Bring your hands, your love, your brain and your curiosity. At the end of our 9 days together you will have made new friends and participated in an experience that is likely to transform you practice, whether you dive into hospital massage with both feet or return to private practice.

Are there other requirements I need to meet?

Applicants offered admission to Healwell’s Hospital Massage Therapy Stewardship Program must comply with Virginia Hospital Center’s standard human resources policies and procedures for staff who will come into direct contact with patients regarding:

  • immunization (Healwell’s program administrators will review the specifics with you as the start date of your cohort approaches)
  • background check (administered through the hospital)
  • proof of professional liability/malpractice insurance

Questions about these requirements can be directed to Failure to comply or to provide requested documentation is grounds for rescinding an admission offer or terminating admission. PLEASE NOTE:  You must have an up-to-date flu shot to participate in this program. There can be no exceptions.

Do I need to get a flu shot?

Yes. Healwell Stewards must comply with Virginia Hospital Center’s standard human resources policies and procedures for staff who come into direct contact with patients. The policies include up-to-date flue shots and immunizations.

Do I really need to get a flu shot?

Yes. You really need to get a flu shot.

Seriously? What if I don’t want to get a flu shot?

You must have an up-to-date flu shot to participate in this program. There are no exceptions.

What will I learn?

Our Hospital Massage Therapy Stewardship Program will prepare you to provide safe, effective massage therapy in the hospital.

The curriculum includes:

  • medical terminology and documentation
  • cross contamination and PPE procedures and guidelines
  • contraindications and adaptations
  • body mechanics for the hospital setting
  • introduction to common meds and their effects
  • establishing therapeutic relationships
  • communication with physicians and other members of the team
  • working with the hospitalized patient
  • hands-on patient care on three units (ICU, inpatient rehabilitation and oncology)

Are there tests or evaluations?

Healwell measures Stewards’ assimilation and integration of the experience and material through a variety of avenues.

The Stewardship experience is highly interactive. Stewards work closely with instructors and have an ongoing opportunity to receive feedback and participate actively in the learning process. This openness and the tools mentioned above allow faculty to provide the appropriate support, resources and mentorship to Stewards, as needed.  You will receive a certificate of attendance at the end of the course.

There are no written tests.

What does it cost?

Course tuition is $1299. You will pay a $199 application fee that is applied toward your total tuition if you are welcomed into the program. If you are not accepted into the program or if you are asked to apply again at a later date all but $50 of this fee will be refunded to you. Stewards are expected to pay in full the balance of the tuition (in installments or a lump sum, as they wish and as time permits) prior to the first day of the first module.

Is there any assistance available?

Thanks to generous donors, Healwell is proud to offer three memorial scholarships each in the amount of $500 every year.

How will I get there? How will I eat? Where will I stay?

Click here for information about Travel & Accommodations.

Do I need to buy books?

Required reading:

Strongly suggested reading:

  • Medical Conditions and Massage Therapy: A Decision Tree Approach by Tracy Walton

What should I wear?

Stewards are required to purchase two sets of scrubs* (two pants; two tops). The tops must be powder or ceil blue. The pants should be citron/sunflower/sunshine/daisy/lemon yellow. (Look at the pictures of past Stewards on this website. Please no neon or yellow/green.)

You will also need closed-toe shoes that would resist a puncture from a falling needle and that will be comfortable during hours of standing. Vibram “Five Fingers” and the like are not acceptable. Clogs, hospital Crocs and other options are available for purchase through the websites where you will find your scrubs. If you already own acceptable shoes, there is no need to purchase shoes specifically for the course.

*NOTE: It is important that you purchase the correct color scrubs as these colors distinguish us within the hospital from other members of the healthcare team. You will find many brands with a yellow option. You may purchase these, but please no neon. Sunflower, sunlight, daisy, lemon are all acceptable.  Again, you will also find a variety of blue options.  You may also find it helpful to choose pants and tops that have multiple pockets. Many standard, cheaper scrubs will have only one pocket or even no pockets. You will be glad you spent an extra $5 for options with more pockets.   Be sure to check sizing charts as each company has its own style and sizing.  You’ll be living in these scrubs for 9 days between the two modules, so you want them to be comfortable and useful. 

What about equal opportunity?

Healwell upholds all federal and state laws that preclude discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, age, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or veteran status.