“Looking back now, I’m definitely glad I went the Newfoundland route. It’s been a long process, but I’m finally there!”

That’s Jenna Kluthe, who graduated from MH Vicars School’s Edmonton campus in 2017. She was one of nearly a dozen Vicars grads who travelled to Newfoundland to write that province’s entry-to-practice exam with the final goal of becoming RMTs in BC. Jenna now practices in Nanaimo.

Tyler Shortridge, Karen Goforth, Jenna Kluthe, and their classmates celebrate together after writing the CMTNL exams. Photo courtesy Karen Goforth.

Jenna and her classmates chose Newfoundland because the process to apply for the exam was simpler, faster, and less expensive than going directly to BC. The College of Massage Therapists of Newfoundland and Labrador officially recognizes the Vicars program, while the BC College requires applicants to pay for a “prior learning assessment” before they can take their test. (Read more about why Vicars grads are choosing Newfoundland and New Brunswick here).

The journey to become RMTs in BC began in the spring of 2017.

“I was going to go the BC route, because I didn’t know anything about Newfoundland, but about a month before we graduated someone mentioned it and we were all curious,” said Tyler Shortridge, who lives in Cranbrook and attended the Calgary campus. “[CMTNL] were really good. They answered emails fast, they answered phone calls. It was easy to get the answers I needed, and the paperwork was simple. I think I waited two weeks to hear whether we were accepted to write the exam. They had no issues with our program.”

The Newfoundland entry-to-practice exam has two parts. The multiple-choice exam covers massage theory, ethics, and law, including regulations specific to Newfoundland. The practical exam, which consists of seven separate stations, evaluates the therapist’s academic knowledge, hands-on techniques, and problem-solving skills.

“It was a little bit intimidating,” said Jenna. “You walk into the room and there were two examiners, just sitting off to the side, and there’s the body. The examiners don’t say anything, they don’t acknowledge you, they don’t smile, they don’t do anything. You just walk in and do your thing.”

The College publishes a detailed outline of the exam structure and contents to help therapists prepare, and the Vicars grad felt that the exams were well-organized and fair.

“It was fairly straightforward. You just have to make sure that you’re confident in your answers,” said Karen Goforth, who lives and works in Creston, BC.

Nonetheless, they all felt very prepared.

“The hardest part was waiting for the results,” said Tyler. “I took the exam in August, and by the end of October I was registered in Newfoundland. The end of January is when I was able to work in BC as an RMT.”

All the time and effort was worth it.

“Being a massage therapist is awesome, I love it. I have the freedom to do whatever I want with my schedule, and I like helping people,” said Tyler. “You see a lot of different people, and it’s really nice to connect with them.”

If you’re a Vicars student or grad interested in more information about moving to a regulated province, please contact the school and we’d be happy to help.

An image of someone working on their laptop and visiting Facebook

This morning when I sat down at my desk, coffee in hand, the first thing that I did was open up Facebook. It’s the first thing I do every morning.

This isn’t a confession that I’m slacking off on the job—quite the opposite, in fact!

As Communications Coordinator, it’s my job to promote the School, share what’s happening on campus, and answer questions from clients and prospective (and current) students. And one of the ways I do this is by using social media.

Hence the morning Facebook-and-coffee ritual each morning. I log in to Facebook and navigate to the MH Vicars School business page (resisting the temptation to check my own notifications…usually!) and see how the online community has been interacting with the School.

An image of someone working on their laptop and visiting Facebook

I check the messaging inbox—recent messages have included questions about class schedules, job postings, and continuing education – and reply to comments. I also go behind the scenes to check out the analytic data on recent posts—information that’s available on business pages but not personal profiles. This allows me to learn about what our Facebook community likes, so I can create even more relevant and enjoyable content for them in the future.

I check back in with Facebook—and our Instagram account—once or twice during the day. I’ll write new posts and either publish them immediately or schedule them for later. I try to post at least once a day for the school, being careful not to spam peoples’ timelines or neglect my other responsibilities.

Relatively speaking, it’s a small part of my job. But it’s an incredibly important one. These days, it’s vital for businesses to have a social media presence. And though massage therapy is an offline profession, it’s no exception.

As an RMT, you are your own business, and your own brand. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an employee of another clinic, or run your own practice, or even if you’re a student just starting to build a network of potential clients. No matter your practice, your customers are online. They expect you to have a responsive web presence, and social media is one of the fastest, cheapest, and most effective ways to meet that need.

Your daily social media doesn’t need to look like mine, but if you want to grow your client base, manage your personal brand, and communicate with your clients, you should really be on social media.

Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer a wide range of tools specifically for businesses. They allow you to separate your personal and professional identities online, communicate with your clients, and build your ideal audience. But these tools can be complex, they aren’t always intuitive, and they’re regularly being updated. I’ve been using Facebook for business for years, and every few months I make a point to check out what new features are available.

If you don’t already have a Facebook business page, now’s the time. But you don’t have to learn how to do it alone. To learn how to set up your page, or make sure that you’re using it to the best potential, I recommend you attend the one-day social media marketing course we’re holding at the end of the month:


Building Your Massage Business
(Level I): Using Social Media to Build Your Brand

When: November 25, 2017
Where: Edmonton Campus

Sign Up


Applications are now being accepted for the 2016 Massage Therapy Research Fund. This is a wonderful opportunity for students and alumni to exercise their research muscles!

The MTRF funds academic research into many aspects of massage therapy as a discipline and as a profession. According to the MTRF:

“Eligible research topics include, but are not limited to:
– Massage Therapy effectiveness, efficacy and safety;
– Massage Therapy competencies and competency assessment;
– Access to and delivery of Massage Therapy services;
– Professionalization of Massage Therapy; and
– Evaluation of Massage Therapy practice.”

This year, they are also placing a special call for research on massage for soft tissue injuries.

Applications will be accepted until September, and more than $100,000 in funding is up for grabs for researchers across the country.

Read more on Massage Therapy Canada’s website. 

Thanks to Instructor Anna Faris for bringing this to our attention.

We got a very exciting letter in the mail today! Our first exclusive continuing education course has been approved for continuing education credits by the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta!

When you take Building Your Business (Level 1)—Using Social Media to Build Your Brand at the Calgary campus this July, you will earn 4 Secondary Credits from MTAA. 

For many years, we have partnered with qualified instructors and organizations to offer continuing education at our Edmonton and Calgary locations. But this course is the first time we’ve developed homegrown exclusive continuing education classes! It’s in Calgary first, and will be repeated in Edmonton later this year.

This workshop will teach you  how to create and execute a communications strategy that meets your needs. Using a practical, hands-on approach, you’ll learn how to use traditional communication avenues and social media to promote yourself and your practice.
The course will cover the importance of a good social media strategy and demonstrate actionable steps you can take to develop a sustainable, measurable and scalable social media marketing plan tailored to your own needs and goals. Ultimately, this will help you create more awareness, relationships and leads for your brand and business.
You will go through social-media exercises and real-world case
studies, putting what you’ve learned into practice throughout the day.
The key topics that we’ll cover include:
  • How to build a voice and values around your brand-Be a Brand Ambassador!
  • The right channels for you-which social media channels should you use?
  • How to craft and grow your online “ecosystem” to build your network & business
  • The balance of a good content strategy, listening, and engagement tactics
  • Setting goals and measuring your social media growth
During the workshop, you’ll set up your own Facebook Business Page (or perfect the one you already have)!
This course is specifically designed for massage therapists, and will offer techniques and advice for both sole practitioners and those working in multi-therapist environments.
In order to fully participate in this workshop, we request that you bring a laptop or tablet.
Cost: For MH Vicars students and graduates: $195 (+gst)
For general public: $245 (+gst)

Building Your Massage Business (Level I):
Using Social Media to Build Your Brand

June 18 2016, Calgary Campus

Register Now!

MH Vicars instructor teaching a class

We are about to devote many hours and quite a bit of money to earn a piece of paper that some other Alberta massage schools don’t even want. And we couldn’t be more delighted!

MH Vicars School has been chosen as a pilot school by the Canadian Massage Therapy Council for Accreditation! You read that right: at long last, massage schools in Canada will be able to earn accreditation from a national body. And they’ve chosen MH Vicars School to help launch that process.

We have invited a group of CMTCA assessors to use our campuses to test their assessment process. It’s the latest step towards a full, nationwide accreditation system.

What is accreditation?

To put it very simply, accreditation will mean that a school can prove that it:

  • Meets the curriculum standards of the regulated provinces
  • Awards diplomas only to massage therapists who have proven themselves skilled, knowledgeable, and effective
  • Delivers what it promises: qualified instructors; relevant content; and a culture of continuous improvement

These are the same high standards that we have set for ourselves every day.

Why do we care so much about CMTCA accreditation?

Maybe we just like being ahead of the crowd! After all, we were the first private school in Alberta to upgrade our curriculum to meet the national standard (which is required of schools in BC and other regulated provinces, but still voluntary in Alberta). We also were the first massage school to be named to the MTAA’s Approved Program List.

Accreditation is an essential step for government regulation of the industry, which we still don’t have in Alberta. I have been pushing for Canada-wide accreditation of massage schools since I started MH Vicars School in 2001. Accreditation of massage therapy schools means that students will get the best education, and clients will get the best treatments.

So why wouldn’t everyone want this?

Politics. And profits. With regulation, some MTs would have to get more education, and many schools would have to get better– a lot better, in many cases. And upgrading a school is expensive and time-consuming. We spend hundreds of hours each year refining our curriculum to make sure that it covers the latest massage and education research. Many schools don’t bother. They won’t upgrade their programs until they are forced to by regulation, or by an educated public.

We are pursuing accreditation because it is the right thing to do. It will be benefit our alumni, who are already in demand by employers and clients. Once they are able to say that they have graduated from an accredited school, it will only be further proof that they are worth every penny!

It will also benefit the public. Clients should be able to count on competent, effective therapy. Being able to choose therapists from accredited schools will make it easier for them to find the best therapists (our therapists, obviously!).

Accreditation is the future for massage therapy in Alberta, and we are thrilled to be a part of this process with the CMTCA.

Best,

Maryhelen Vicars

One of my favourite things about working here is getting to know our students so well. Even as the school has grown, we’ve been able to maintain a really warm, open relationship between students and staff and instructors. I think it comes from a combination of our small class sizes, open door policy (and in the Edmonton offices, a “no door” policy), and drive to always put students first.

Anyway, knowing our students so well means we really miss them when they graduate, and love to hear what they’re up to once they begin their careers. Which is why I was so pleased to come across these videos we made in 2011!

Then and now, we’re constantly bragging about our amazing grads, and we commissioned these for our website. They didn’t end up making the transition when we revamped the site last year, but we’re adding more alumni success stories at the moment so I dug them up again.

And they’re so fun! Check out Bree and Jordan telling their stories about attending Vicars:

[vimeo id=”208383902″ caption=”” autoplay=”0″ loop=”0″ title=”0″ byline=”0″ portrait=”0″]

[youtube id=”GKNEq7z-jWc” caption=”” theme=””]

Some of the information is out of date — for instance, we now host public clinic instead of having students do practicum placements, but it’s great to see so many familiar faces! I also enjoyed those shots of the old Edmonton location. It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than two years since we moved from Roper Road to Calgary Trail.

Watching these has made me want to hear more alumni stories! Take to the comments and tell us about what you’re up to! And hey – do you want to be profiled on the blog? And remember: I’m always on the lookout for interesting massage tales. This blog can be an opportunity to share your experiences and learn from each other. Email me at robin@mhvicarsschool.com with suggestions!

Learning independently can be a pretty scary prospect. You have to manage your time, stay motivated, and get through your assigned work on your own: there’s no one keeping you on track but you.

Sounds pretty terrifying, right?Study buddies at MH Vicars School

Luckily, the reality is not nearly as scary. Blended learning and online programs have a lot of advantages. They allow you to learn at your own pace, and help you prepare for a successful career by honing your time management and critical thinking skills. At MH Vicars School, we’ve been teaching massage therapy through blended learning for more than a decade: our students spend four days a month in the classroom, and complete 20-25 hours of independent work on their own each week.

So how do they do it? Here are three important strategies for staying motivated, making the best use of your time, and ensuring that you succeed in a blended, online, or distance education course.

 

1. Choose the right program for you

We’re putting this right at the top of the list because your entire education depends on it. When you choose a course or program that you’re passionate about, learning isn’t a chore. You won’t have to force yourself to pull out the textbooks, and even the toughest assignments won’t get you down. On the other hand, if you’re enrolled in a program that doesn’t really interest you, every speed bump will feel like a mountain.

So make sure that you truly want to be doing what you’re doing.

2. Make a schedule (and stick to it!)

It can be very easy—dangerously easy—to put things off for tomorrow. As an independent learner, procrastination is your worst enemy. It doesn’t take very many “I’ll just do it tomorrow”s for your pile of assignments to get overwhelmingly high.

MH Vicars School students help each other relax

The best way to avoid the temptation is to create a study schedule.

A good blended-learning program will have make it very clear what needs to be done, and give you an idea of how long it will take. For instance, our students are given a detailed checklist of readings and assignments that they have to complete for their next class, and know that it will take 20-25 hours per week to complete. It’s a good idea to sit down each week or each month and block off times that you will dedicate to working on specific tasks. Break your assignments down into smaller chunks and everything will be more manageable and less stressful.

3. Remember: you’re not actually on your own

Just because you’re not in class, doesn’t mean there aren’t people to help you! Your fellow students are an incredible asset both academically and emotionally. Remember that you’re all in this together. Having study partners or a regular homework group will help you understand the material and stay on schedule, and will help you feel connected. Your classmates are also great sounding boards when you have to vent!

And of course, your instructors will be there for you. A good school will not only make sure that you have all the material you need to get your work done outside of class, but will make sure instructors and staff are available to answer your questions.

As you can see, with a little preparation and support independent study isn’t so scary after all! All it takes is good planning and a positive attitude.

What are your best strategies and study tips for independent learning? Let us know in the comments!