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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


A group of MH Vicars students sitting around the coffee table, discussing lessons.

As an RMT, you’ve chosen to dedicate your career to helping and connecting with others. So, networking should come as second nature. But too many massage therapists write off the idea entirely without realizing its value. Maybe the term brings to mind images of midlevel executives in uncomfortable suits exchanging superficial pleasantries along with their business cards. Maybe it just doesn’t seem necessary for someone who’s self-employed, or has a full client list.

If that’s been your attitude towards networking, it’s time to think again! Networking is an essential tool for RMTs at all stages of their careers. Authentic, meaningful networking isn’t about impressing your peers, or keeping up appearances. It’s about making connections and building communities.

Don’t believe me yet? Keep reading for our top 6 benefits of networking.

#1: Keep up with trends and innovations in the industry

A group of MH Vicars students sitting around the coffee table, discussing lessons.How do you stay on top of the latest massage news? If the answer is that you chat with your clients and fellow RMTs, then congratulations: you’re networking already!

While massage as a healing discipline is thousands of years old, as a modern career it’s experiencing rapid growth and change. From developments in regulation and school accreditation, to innovative treatments and modalities, there’s always something new to learn. By cultivating connections with other therapists and health professionals, you can keep up with all the latest news in this dynamic field.

#2: Make important referral contacts

Maybe you’re so busy that you have to turn potential clients away. Maybe you want to be able to recommend someone you trust when you have to refer your clients to another practitioner. In either case, it’s very helpful to know the therapists and health professionals in your area. Your clients trust you with their health when they’re on your table, and you owe it to them to be knowledgeable about their treatment options beyond your clinic walls.
And of course, making this type of connection pays off in both directions. Wellness professionals like physiotherapists, coaches, and chiropractors are often called upon to recommend massage to their clients and patients. By getting to know them, you’ll both benefit – and so will your clients.

#3: Get motivated

No matter how much you love your job – and we hope you adore it! – it’s still work. It’s natural for your drive and enthusiasm to ebb and flow.

One sure-fire way to jumpstart your passion for the career is to meet with fellow RMTs and talk about the job! Sharing ideas, tips, funny stories, and lessons learned can remind you why you chose this career in the first place, and will leave you re-energized about your practice.

#4: It’s an opportunity to find or become a mentor

I wouldn’t be where I am today – with a fulfilling job that I love – without the help and advice of a lot of different people, and I expect the same is true for you. Interestingly, I didn’t connect with the people whom I consider my most important mentors and teachers through formal mentorship programs. Rather, they’ve been bosses, professors, senior colleagues, and even friends who simply took the time to share their thoughts and experiences with me. It may have been a small thing to them, but it has been precious to me. I hope that someday, I can play a similar role in someone else’s life.

And these casual, organic mentor relationships are just as important for RMTs as they are for writers like me. By connecting with the rest of the massage community, you can meet people to learn from, and people to teach. Because we’re never too old to do either!

#5: Look for a new job, or find new employees

If I were writing this for another school’s blog, I would probably have put this one at the top of the list. It’s the most obvious benefit of formal networking. But if your clinic is fully booked, or you happily work for yourself, it might be the benefit you’re most likely to discount. If you’re not actively looking to switch jobs or hire anyone, cultivating employment contacts might be pretty low on your to-do list. And fair enough!

But this is an important strategy for students and new graduates, and those of you who are still building their practice. And even if you’re comfortable where you are right now: the right time to have this kind of connection is before you need it.

#6: Socialize and have fun!

This one isn’t an afterthought, I promise! Massage therapists are good people (and I’d know!). All the RMTs that I know are in this business because they care about others, and want to have a positive influence on the world. And who wouldn’t want to hang out with people like that?

When it comes down to it, “networking” is just connecting with other RMTs and wellness professionals. It’s spending time with people, be they old classmates or new friends, with whom you have a lot in common—and helping your career at the same time. What could be better?

Can you think of any benefits to networking that I’ve missed? What have been your best networking experiences so far? Please share them in the comments!

Ah, cold and flu season. All across the country, people are stocking up on hand sanitizer, tissues, and chicken soup in anticipation of that first traitorous sneeze. Most of us are extra careful about germs this time of year, but it’s especially important for massage therapists. Because you work directly with people’s bodies, you have a slightly higher risk of catching infections like colds and the flu than the average population. You’re also more at risk of passing it on.

Getting sick with this kind of contagious infection means interrupting your practice and cancelling clients, which no one wants to do. And in the case of the flu, there can be even more serious consequences — this year’s flu season has already led to 69 hospitalizations in Alberta.

So what can massage therapists do to increase their chances of making it through flu season infection-free? Here are our tips:

1. Wash your hands (and your clinic)!

This is common sense advice, of course, and it applies to clients and therapists alike. One of the best safeguards against catching and spreading viruses and other pathogens is to break the chain of infection. In cold and flu season, all of the standard precautions that you take when it comes to personal and clinic hygiene—such as disinfecting your table and other surfaces between clients, keeping nails trimmed, using flip-top or pump dispensers to prevent cross-contamination of oils and lotion, and of course washing your hands—are even more important.

Washing Hands by peapod labs on flickr. Licensed under CC 2.0

Hands are the number one way that diseases like cold and flu are spread, so it’s worth reminding yourself of best practices in this area and seeing if there’s anything you can do to improve your habits. Here are some handy (pun intended!) online resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Alberta Health Services about good handwashing technique, including posters for your clinics. And we recommend using regular liquid soap (rather than the antibacterial kind) and using the paper towel you’re drying your hands with to turn off the faucet and turn the doorknob.

And don’t forget that anything you or your clients touch in your clinic can harbour germs, so regularly cleaning well-used surfaces is a must. When you’re looking around the office for things to wipe once you’ve done the phone receiver and massage table, don’t forget less obvious surfaces like the lotion bottles, doorknobs, your cell phone, and debit machine.

It’s also a good idea not to touch things that you don’t have to. Speaking of the debit machine, don’t handle clients’ cards—instead, consider allowing clients to use the hand-held device themselves while you stick to the main console. And if you currently fetch each client a glass of water after their massage, perhaps put an attractive pitcher of ice water on a stand with glasses and encourage them to help themselves instead. 

2. Take a sick day (and have your clients do the same)

Giving someone a massage when you’re sick isn’t fair to them, and massaging a sick client isn’t fair to you. If you think you have the flu, you should cancel your appointments. Your clients will undoubtedly be disappointed (because you’re such a great therapist!), but they’ll appreciate your professionalism.

If a client shows up for an appointment exhibiting symptoms that make you suspect they may be contagious, exercise your judgement. Should you proceed with the appointment, and perhaps perform a modified massage, or reschedule them for when they’re feeling better? Of course, if they’re in the throes of the flu it’s unlikely they want to do anything other than curl up in bed with hot tea and Netflix, but remember that whether to give them a massage is your choice. Keep in mind that a fever of 38.5°C or above is an absolute general contraindication for massage, and that massage can exacerbate cold and flu symptoms. If you feel it’s best to reschedule, explain your reasons and your client will respect your caution.

You might reduce your chance of disappointing clients by putting a little bit of information about the issue on your clinic website—some basic guidelines educating them on when massage is and isn’t appropriate could be a great service for both of you.  

3. Take care of yourself first

Cold and flu viruses are opportunistic jerks. They will take advantage of any chink in your armour to try to make you sick, and when you’re stressed out, overtired, or otherwise run down your immune defences won’t be firing at full capacity. So looking after your own general wellness is a key step in keeping the bugs away. Eat well, stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and keep on top of any existing health conditions you may already be experiencing. The flu vaccine is available without an appointment at many pharmacies, and there is still time for it to take effect before the predicted “peak” of the season in late December if you choose to get it.

It’s easy to let these things slide, especially as the holidays are coming up. But it’s difficult to take care of others if you’re not looking after yourself as well. So treat yourself with the same respect you offer your clients, and look after that body!

 

We hope that this helps you and your clients stay healthy and happy this season. Do you have anything to add to the discussion? Please share your experiences and advice in the comments.

 

Sources: The information in this post comes from our experienced instructors, and from our curriculum. For more information, we recommend “Massage Therapy: Principles and Practice” by Susan Salvo.

Salvo, S. G. (2012). Massage therapy: Principles and practice. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.  

 

 

An MH Vicars RMT student massaging a patient's leg. Massage therapy is a satisfying and rewarding career that can be a perfect fit for energetic, caring people. As an RMT, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of being front-line health care professional – working closely with clients to improve and maintain their wellness – without the long hours and shift work. If you’ve received a professional massage before then you’ll have a rough idea of what the hands-on part of an RMT’s job is like. But if you’re considering becoming an RMT, that’s not all you need to know!

What do RMTs make? Where do they work? What are the hours? To help with your research, we’ve created a massage therapy career guide to answer some of the most common questions we get from prospective students.

How much do massage therapists make?

A well-trained massage therapist can earn a very comfortable income, but exactly how much money you make will depend on your type of practice, where you are, and how much you work.

A registered therapist with a 2200-hour registered massage therapy diploma who works full time (that is, giving around 20-25 massages per week) can expect to make between $60,000-$72,000 a year. If you’re working in a city like Calgary or Edmonton, you or the clinic you work for will probably charge between $75-$100 for an hour massage (Your rates may be lower in a small town or rural area, but your expenses may be too). That said, you don’t pocket all of that. If you’re running your own clinic, you will have to cover rent, supplies, laundry, advertising, and other expenses. If you’re an employee or contractor in a spa, wellness centre, or another massage clinic, you’ll split that fee with your employer (60-40 is pretty standard). If you own a clinic and employ other therapists or practitioners, you’ll make more.

Will I be able to find a job?

Massage therapy is a fast-growing profession in Alberta and across Canada. The Alberta government rates the career’s growth prospects as “above average.” As in any profession, your personal job prospects will depend on how good a therapist you are, and what kind of training you have.

MH Vicars graduates have an extraordinarily high employment rate: in 2014, 96% of Edmonton graduates and 98% of Calgary graduates found jobs within months of graduation. We believe that our therapists do so well because of the high quality of our curriculum and our first-rate instructors.

What kind of training do I need in Alberta?

Massage therapy classMassage therapy is not a provincially regulated profession in Alberta or Saskatchewan (the regulated provinces are BC, Ontario, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick). This means that there is no official entry-to-practice standard, and what regulation and standardization we do have is up to the professional associations and insurance companies.

In Alberta, only therapists who have graduated from a 2200-hour diploma program are able to get insurance billing numbers. A therapist whose clients can’t have their receipts reimbursed will have a much harder time finding clients, but can technically still practice. After they complete their training, most massage therapists join a professional association. Different associations have difference admission standards.

But at MH Vicars School, we don’t think that counting hours is good enough. We believe that the standards should be based on what you know – competencies. This is why our 2200-hour program meets the national curriculum and delivery standards set by the Canadian Consortium of Massage Therapy Regulators, one of the few schools in Alberta to do so. We were also the first school to be placed on the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta’s Approved Programs list.

Where do massage therapists work?

Almost anywhere! Massage therapists work in many different environments, so you will have a lot of choice when you graduate: working for yourself in your own clinic or from home; with other RMTs in a dedicated massage clinic; in a wellness centre alongside doctors, chiropractors, nutritionists, acupuncturists, or other practitioners; at a gym; or at a spa or resort. Visit the job listings on our Facebook page to see the kinds of jobs employers are offering right now!

How long will my career last? Should I worry about physical burn-out?

In order to take care of others, you need to take care of yourself. Massage therapy is an active career, and like other physical professions there is a risk of occupational injuries. But most of these are highly preventable, and if you practice good technique and self-care you can plan on a long and satisfying massage career.

The key to longevity in massage therapy is good body mechanics. MH Vicars instructors are sticklers for safe technique, for good reason. Poor body mechanics can lead to exhaustion and repetitive stress injuries, not to mention a sub-par massage! It’s also important to keep fit and avoid overworking yourself.

Respect your body, choose an employer who does the same, and you’ll be comfortably massaging for years to come.

I hope this has helped answer some of your questions about what it’s like to be a massage therapist, and what you need to do to succeed! Going back to school and changing careers is a big decision, so it’s important to do as much research as you can.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions (1-866-491-0574 or info@mhvicarsschool.com). We also recommend that you talk to a working RMT. They will be able to offer even more insight about their day-to-day work. You can find an MH Vicars grad near you here, or book an appointment at one of our public clinics.