Qi Gong for Self-Care: Part of a Massage Therapy Curriculum

QIGongAt National University, students in the massage therapy program not only learn how to take care of future clients, they also learn how to take care of themselves. Toward this goal, the required curriculum includes a participation class featuring Qi Gong. 

Qi Gong is a Chinese system of breathing exercises, body postures and movements, combined with mental concentration and meditation. The techniques are used to maintain good health and control the flow of vital energy, or "qi".

Students in the class learn Qi Gong relaxation techniques so that they can recharge their own energy and maintain wellness throughout their career. "I teach the MT students specific techniques to keep their hands healthy, how to manage emotions, keep themselves well," says John Robertson who owns Seven Stars Martial Arts and has been teaching Tai Chi and Qi Gong at NUHS since 2005.       

Qi Gong2"I tell my students that Tai Chi and Qi Gong are the 401k plan for your health. It is what you do today that allows you to have health and wellness in your later years," says Robertson.

Massage therapists must maintain a level of fitness without injury to continue thriving in this physically demanding profession.  It can also be very easy for a therapist to find him or herself so invested in taking care of others, that they forget to take good care of themselves.  That's why it's critical for massage therapists to develop self-care regimens such as yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi - and even remembering to get a massage themselves.

Qi Gong3You'll find John Robertson and his MT students doing Qi Gong outside when the weather is nice. Robertson also teaches at several local park districts, assisted living centers and in Alzheimer's and dementia outpatient care programs.

"I think its awesome that self-care is a requirement at National University," says Robertson, who also teaches Taichi in the acupuncture and oriental medicine degree programs. "It's part of the old physician's code 'heal thyself.' If you're not well, then you're not able to work to the best of your ability, or give your client the finest care."

Comparing Massage Schools: A Strong Faculty

Nothing is more important to your massage education than the people who you will learn from. When you compare massage schools, it's important to take a look at the faculty and their background.

For example, how many instructors are there at the school? Some massage programs get by with only 3 or 4 instructors. However, a small instruction staff can't provide the breadth of experience and mentorship that is available with a larger staff. Learning from more instructors allows you to benefit from a wider pool of knowledge, more client case histories, and the ability to observe a wider range of business and practice styles.

Dr Coe2

Secondly, examine the education and qualifications of the faculty.  For example, at National University, you'll study health sciences under primary care physicians with advanced degrees. That means you'll learn pathology from a doctor who has actually managed patients with many of the diseases and conditions you'll learn about. You'll study anatomy from a physician who dissected cadavers in the same medical school lab you'll be learning in.

In the on-campus integrative medical clinic at National University, you'll intern under clinicians with DC or ND credentials. This can help you learn how to better manage clients with medical conditions. Additionally, you'll learn how to better interact with physicians, and understand what they will expect from you in the future when they refer their patients to you for massage.

Third, see if the school's faculty is active in the profession outside of the school.  Professionals who are passionate about what they do are usually also actively involved in organizations supporting that profession. The faculty at National University is a great example: The assistant dean of the program, Dr. Randy Swenson, is the former chair of the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation. One of the university's research professors, Dr. Jerilyn Cambron, is president of the Massage Therapy Foundation, and she and another colleague founded MassageNet.org, a practice-based research network.

When you join the massage therapy program at National University, you'll be studying under a strong faculty that is committed to seeing you succeed. A little research in comparing schools will give you confidence that you are putting your education in good hands.

Massage Therapists Enjoy Expanding Opportunities

Current statistics show that the field of massage therapy continues to expand, offering solid career benefits for those seeking a rewarding career in health care.

In addition to private massage practices and spa settings, you'll now find massage therapists on cruise ships, in corporate wellness centers, at your local mall, employed by sports teams and fitness centers. Even more exciting is that massage therapy is now part of integrative care in leading hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic, in hospice care, in a variety of integrative care clinics, wellness centers and physicians' practices.

Today, Americans not only seek massage for relaxation, they increasingly look to it for therapeutic treatment of medical conditions. That's because research studies prove it can effectively help treat a wide variety of health issues such as high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, and low back pain.

MT Infographics 

What is most exciting about massage therapy, is that the career field is relatively easy to enter. You'll need a high school diploma or GED, and attend approximately one year of evening classes at National University of Health Sciences. You'll then qualify to take state licensing exams. Once you're a certified MT, you'll enjoy flexible work hours, a wide variety of employment settings to choose from, good pay, and the satisfaction that comes with helping people in their health and wellness goals.

Visit National University to explore more about a career in massage therapy and whether it may be just the opportunity you've been waiting for.

Comparing Massage Schools: Anatomy Education

It's important for massage therapists to have an understanding of how the body works, and what structures and organ systems can be affected though massage therapy. For that reason, in addition to learning massage technique, one of your required course requirements in most massage schools will be human anatomy. 

That's why a good question to ask when you are comparing massage schools is, "How will I study anatomy?"

Anatomylab -2013_featureMost massage schools will use anatomy textbooks, illustrations, posters, or models to teach their students about structures and systems within the human body.  But did you know that there is one massage school where massage students study anatomy on real human cadavers in a graduate medical school gross anatomy laboratory?

That's right! At National University, our massage students spend each anatomy class viewing the actual muscles, tendons, and bones that they will be working on when they massage their clients. They study in the same lab as medical students, with guidance from graduate level faculty.

Anne Waugh raves about the anatomy lab experience at National University: "I never tire of studying the body. It is extraordinary! It's also fascinating to be able to see so many different bodies and the different nuances. Each body is created so differently, it's truly amazing. There's just no way to get this education in anatomy from a book." 

"There's nothing like it," says Emily Davies. "You can get in there and actually see the muscles and the bones. It's something that you can't get from a book. I know it will make me a better massage therapist."

At best, some other massage schools might take a one-day field trip to an anatomy laboratory. National University massage students are in the lab for anatomy classes on a regular basis. 

Anatomage Table1Outside the laboratory, National University students also have access to The Anatomage Table in the campus learning resource center. Featured on PBS and TED Talks, this life-size 3-D interactive table is today's most technologically advanced digital visualization system for anatomy education. There are less than 100 tables in the US, and only 300 in the world. 

If you're worried you might be squeamish around real cadavers, you can see what studying in a real anatomy lab is like before you go to school. A visit to the anatomy lab is part of National University's massage therapy information night. Most students find it's not scary at all, but rather exciting and life-changing.

Comparing Massage Schools: Internship Experience

Massage ImageWelcome to our new Touchpoints blog series on key points to look for when choosing the right massage therapy school. This month's topic is "Internship Experience."

To earn your certification or degree in massage therapy, you'll need to practice your massage skills on real people while you are still in school. Your state licensing board will also require proof that you've completed a certain number of actual massage hours under supervision.

Where, how and on whom you practice your required massage hours can vary greatly from school to school. Here is what to look for:

  • Will you complete your hours massaging a wide variety of clients, or will you just be working on fellow students, friends, family or people from only one demographic or age group?

A school that assures you receive a large number and wide variety of different clients (meaning clients of different ages, backgrounds and health histories) will give you the broadest base of experience and prepare you for the real world. At National University, you'll be interning in our on-campus integrative medical clinic, which draws from the local community, the college campus, as well as referrals from our chiropractic, naturopathic, acupuncture and oriental medicine clinicians.

  • Will you gain experience in a medical environment? or will you work in a school spa or massage center?

Working in a school spa or center that only provides massage can provide an adequate number of clients, but the actual experience you'll gain may be limited.

You'll be better prepared for a wider variety of career opportunities if you give massage in a clinical or medical setting where you are part of an integrated health care team.

First, you'll be more likely to see clients with actual medical conditions who have massage therapy prescribed as part of a treatment plan. This provides important experience in applying your therapeutic skills. Secondly, you'll work alongside doctors and health professionals from other specialties. That means you'll have practice in learning how to communicate with them effectively.

Once again, National University's on-site integrative medical clinic provides an ideal internship setting where massage therapists can gain confidence in working with clients who are referred by medical clinicians. You'll learn to prepare SOAP notes (an acronym for subjective, objective, assessment, and plan) for your client's file and medical charts, in a way that is responsive to their physician's requests.

Additionally, many of National University's massage faculty and clinic supervisors are also practicing primary care physicians. Your supervisor will not only be a massage expert, but will be able to show you what a medical doctor will expect from you.

National University's clinic provides an internship experience that better prepares you for new career options opening in hospitals, chiropractic practices, integrative medical clinics, hospice care, wellness centers, and more.

Why not come for our next massage therapy information night and see our clinic for yourself. We think you'll agree, it's an exciting environment for aspiring health care professionals like you!