National University's massage therapy clinic supervisor, Patricia Coe, DC, is a favorite of National's massage students. In fact, they've voted her "Instructor of the Tri" every single trimester since the program's inception.
Dr. Coe earned her BS in biology at the University of Pittsburgh and completed her massage training at the Pittsburgh Center for Massage Therapy. Afterward, she came to National where she earned a doctor of chiropractic degree, and also finished a residency in family practice. In addition, she is certified to teach neurostructural integration.
"Our curriculum explores different disease processes that therapists might see in their practice. It explores whether massage would be beneficial or not in certain medical conditions," explains Dr. Coe. "We don't just list problems, we explain systems. So, for example, instead of just giving a list of problems that go wrong with kidneys, we teach our students to think about the functions of the urinary system and how massage affects those functions. Then we talk about specific conditions.
"Our goal is not to have students simply think, 'I've heard of this so I can work on it,' or 'I've never heard of it but it must be okay to work on.' Instead, if they know there is a problem affecting a specific organ or system, they're going to have the knowledge to be able to reason out whether massage would be appropriate for this person. For me it's fun to teach because of the training in critical thinking," says Dr. Coe.
"I love to teach. I was a teaching assistant in undergrad for sign language courses, since I was a sign language minor. In fact, our massage program recently offered free massage at an event for parents of deaf children. Some of the parents were also deaf, so I signed for them a little bit, and they were all shocked!"
"Part of my job is to take massage interns to do 'outcall,' or community service events. We do many each year, including the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, the Chicago Marathon, health fairs in the Chicago area, and corporate events. We even do free chair massages here on campus for the graduate students during finals, which they appreciate."
"One thing I like about our program is our human anatomy lab. Our school gives the opportunity to actually see real muscles on real bodies and the variability from body to body. If you're studying from a book, you're seeing pictures in a book, pictures of a muscle, that's it. When you're in an anatomy lab, you're looking at several cadavers. You can see the muscles and can compare the musculature of an 80-year-old woman and a 40-year-old man."
Dr. Coe says she knows the program is a success, because "I hear from grads all the time. Therapists call me and tell me how happy they are with their choice of school."
How does Dr. Coe feel about her career at National? "I love my job. I get to teach, I get to know these students for an entire year and be part of their professional training. I enjoy the opportunity to see them from the first week, work with them one-on-one, and watch them come into their own as massage therapists."