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Since she graduated from the Edmonton campus in 2013, Vicki East has been collecting additional credentials and skills. She is a Certified Lymphedema Therapist, and regularly incorporates therapeutic hot and cold stone therapy and myofascial cupping into her therapeutic massage practice. Her clinic, Ebb and Flow Healing Therapy, is based out of her home in Camrose.Vicki East

Why did you choose massage therapy as a career?

I wanted to make a difference, and I have always enjoyed learning about the body and health. Massage allows me to take that passion and apply it every day, to help someone learn about their body and what they can do to feel at their best. I enjoy helping people on their healing journey.

What sets you apart as a therapist?

I am a CLT, certified lymphedema therapist, which is a great niche to be in if you like that kind of massage. I also have a positive attitude and want to figure out what is causing someone’s pain. So I will do an orthopedic assessment to figure out what is going on and try different modalities to help decrease the pain. I combine therapeutic hot stone, myofascial cupping, MLD and therapeutic massage to give a unique approach to address the problem areas.

What self-care practices do you use to keep fit and healthy for your career?

I eat healthy. I teach yoga. In the summer I bike and in the winter I take a spin class and cross country ski. I do self-massage and get regular massages from other RMTs.

It is also important to take time to regenerate your energy, so that you have lots to give to others. You have to find what makes you happy and take the time to do that! For me, that is exercising in nature.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

Reaching the goals that I set out in my business plan ahead of time – that includes training goals and increasing my business. I am also proud that many of the clients that tried me out when I was a student are still my clients.

To learn more about Ebb and Flow  Healing Therapy and to book an appointment with Vicki, give her a call at 780-679-6725.

The Vicars Grads at Work blog series shines the spotlight on MH Vicars School alumni through short profiles and extended features. If you or someone you know would like to be featured on our blog, please contact Robin Collum.

Oksana Pellerine has been practicing massage since 2014, and now runs Art of Healing Pains out of her home. She specializes in fascial work, and also offers raw honey massage, shiatsu techniques, and several types of myofascial cupping to help her clients get the most out of their treatments.

Keep reading to find out more about what she’s been up to!

What do you enjoy about being an RMT?Oksana Pellerine

It’s an opportunity to help, educate and guide clients to reach their health and wellbeing goals; that’s my passion. I strongly believe, this is what I was created for—to help people heal through therapeutic touch.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to face?

Not being able to accommodate everyone that needs my help and healing touch, as I’m only one person. Having to say “I have no more openings for today, I’m sorry”—it kills me.

What self-care practices do you use to keep fit and healthy for your career?

This career made me very mindful of what I need to do in order to perform to the best of my abilities. It’s all about exercise, a balanced diet, staying positive and motivated, focusing on the goals I have set, etc.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

My clients’ health improvements. I’m proud of the positive changes that we’ve been able to achieve together as a team. I feel honoured every time someone asks me to take part in their healing process. I love my job and I’m proud that I found myself in it.

To learn more about Art of Healing Pains Therapeutic Massage and to book an appointment with Oksana, visit her website

The Vicars Grads at Work blog series shines the spotlight on MH Vicars School alumni through short profiles and extended features. If you or someone you know would like to be featured on our blog, please contact Robin Collum.

Since graduating from the Edmonton campus in 2015, Terri Polowick has set up Intuitive Therapeutic Massage, a thriving home-based clinic in St Albert. In addition to her Vicars diploma, Terri has Myofascial Cupping Levels 1 and 2 certification. She particularly enjoys treating her clients’ low back pain and plantar fasciitis.

Why did you choose massage as a career?

I didn’t choose it, it chose me!Terri Polowick

What do you enjoy about being an RMT?

Massage therapy is a non-invasive, drug-free modality with a very high rate of success in treating symptoms/conditions. And also, I have a nerd-like fascination with how the body works!

What self-care practices do you use to keep fit and healthy for your career?

STRETCHING! Every day. Eating well, daily walks, resting when I need, and of course monthly massages!

What do you feel sets you apart as a massage therapist?

I firmly believe in working with a client to find the root cause of the problem and treat that, not just the symptom or symptoms.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

That I followed a passion, something I truly believed in, and succeeded in making a career out of that.

To learn more about Intuitive Therapeutic Massage and to book an appointment with Terri, visit her Facebook page!

The Vicars Grads at Work blog series shines the spotlight on MH Vicars School alumni through short profiles and extended features. If you or someone you know would like to be featured on our blog, please contact Robin Collum.

Kirsty graduated from the Edmonton campus in 2012. She owns
Purple Lotus Therapeutic Massage & Esthetics in St Albert. She and her team of RMTs and estheticians, which includes a fellow MH Vicars grad, refer to Purple Lotus as a “splinic”: it’s not just a spa, and not just a clinic! Kirsty travelled to Hawaii for further training after graduating from Vicars, and now specializes in Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage.
Kirsty MacIntosh

What do you most enjoy about practicing massage?

I love helping people. I love that a healing touch can do so much for someone.

What has been your biggest challenge as an RMT?

Not knowing when to say “No!”. I do not like to say no to clients and often come in to work even when I am not working, and as a result I overwork myself. I need to learn to say no!

What self-care practices do you use to keep fit and healthy for your career?

The other RMTs I work with and I swap massages. I also go to physio and chiro when need be. I work out and swim to try and stay fit!

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

In 2015, I won the Young Entrepreneur Award at the St Albert Small Business Awards of Distinction. (You can read about Kirsty’s award here!).

What advice do you have for people interested in a career in massage?

If you have a passion for people and helping others, do it! Take the plunge into massage. School will not always be easy: there will be tears and moments of frustration. But it is all worth it; every bit of it. Seeing the way you affect someone’s life is the most rewarding feeling you will ever have.

To learn more about Purple Lotus and to book an appointment, please visit their website.

The Vicars Grads at Work blog series shines the spotlight on MH Vicars School alumni through short profiles and extended features. If you or someone you know would like to be featured on our blog, please contact Robin Collum.

Christine has been working as an RMT since she graduated from Vicars in 2014, and last year she took the exciting step of starting her own practice. She works out of her home and does mobile massage, specializing in pregnancy and therapeutic massage. This has allowed her more freedom to balance her career with her responsibilities as a mother of three.
Christine Huget

Why did you choose massage therapy as a career?

I fell in love with massage while I was pregnant with my second child. I used to get debilitating migraines. I would often lie in bed with a cold compress on my head to try to diminish the pain. I would continue to try several remedies with no success. I was only able to find relief with massage. This made me ecstatic! With massage, I was able to function again and was able to go about my daily routines. I knew I wanted to help other get the relief from chronic pain and discomfort that I was able to get through massage.

What do you most enjoy about practicing massage?

What I enjoy most about being a Registered Massage Therapist is when the client leaves my home-based business they feel uplifted, de-stressed, and have less pain and discomfort. I enjoy knowing I’ve helped them and was able to release discomfort in some area in their life.

My passion is helping women prioritize self-care through regular massage.

What self-care practices do you use to keep fit and healthy for your career?

When starting my career as an RMT I began to get overwhelmed and stressed with everyday wear and tear of being a working mom of three. I was having trouble juggling work and home and self-care was on the bottom of my list. I would end up with no energy and have a variety of aches and pains that wouldn’t go away. Self-care now my first priority.

Now, my self-care practices include limiting the number of hours I work per week. I also stay organized, work out, read scripture, practice meditation and my favourite: getting massages.

To book an appointment with Christine, visit her Facebook page!

The Vicars Grads at Work blog series shines the spotlight on MH Vicars School alumni through short profiles and extended features. If you or someone you know would like to be featured on our blog, please contact Robin Collum.

Henriette graduated from our Edmonton campus in 2015. She now owns her own clinic – System Health Centre in Morinville, Alberta – where she provides relaxation and therapeutic massage as well as Contemporary Cupping and foot reflexology treatments.

What do you most enjoy about being an RMT?Henriette Smith at work

I love working one-on-one with clients to address their individual needs. Seeing a person’s progress and hearing that they feel much better is truly what I love.”

How do you keep yourself well and fit for such an active career?

“The physical demands of being a massage therapist has made me far more physically active than the desk job that I used to have. I have also started eating more healthful foods.”

How did MH Vicars School prepare you for a career as an RMT?

“MH Vicars School prepared me fully for my career as a Massage Therapist. We learned anatomy, practical massage, the emotional component of working with people, business management, administration and so much more…”

What sets you apart from other RMTs?

“I am a more mature therapist (age wise) so I have extensive experience working with people over the years. This has prepared me for interacting with many people of all different ages with many different health concerns.”

What are you most proud of in your career?

“My clients’ successes! I love nothing more than knowing a client feels better.”

To book an appointment with Henriette, email her

The Vicars Grads at Work blog series shines the spotlight on MH Vicars School alumni through short profiles and extended features. If you or someone you know would like to be featured on our blog, please contact Robin Collum.

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.

A relaxing hand massage

Welcome to the second half of our job search guide for massage therapists. In Part 1 of this guide, we covered how to determine what that perfect position will look like for you, and how to start finding opportunities that fit those goals. Today, we’ll discuss how to prepare for and ace your interviews, and how to handle contract negotiations.

Step 1: Be Prepared

I have sat on both sides of the job interview table in my career, and the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from this experience is that preparation is essential. As an applicant, I’ve been most successful when I’ve taken the time to research the position and the company, anticipate their questions, and come up with a few of my own. Similarly, there’s hardly anything that impresses me less as an interviewer than someone who obviously didn’t bother to prepare properly: either they have to fumble for answers to my questions, know nothing about the business or industry, or have no questions of their own. And you’d be surprised how often it happens!

Set yourself apart from the other applicants not just by your excellent training, but by doing your homework before the interview. If you’ve taken all the recommended steps from Part 1 of this guide, you’re more than halfway there.

Consider the interview as a conversation, not an interrogation. It’s an opportunity for both of you to learn about each other. They will want to know about your training, goals, strengths, and weaknesses. Try to anticipate their questions, and practice your responses. Why should they hire you?

Get ready to interview them, as well. What do you need to know in order to feel confident taking this position? Prepare a list of questions or topics to cover during (or before) the interview. Here’s a few to get you started:

  • What type of massage will you generally be providing? Do most of their clients book relaxation massages, or therapeutic ones? Does the clinic specialize in certain conditions or techniques?
  • What do they charge for a massage?
  • Will you be an employee, or a contractor? If on contract, will it be a commission split, or a flat monthly room rental?
  • If you’re an employee, what benefits (if any) do they offer?
  • What is the split amount? Is there a scale or cap?
  • What services will the employer provide? For example, if the commission split is 60/40, you need to know what they’re doing to earn their 40%. Ask about marketing, reception, supplies (ie, linens, oils, laundry), etc.
  • Will you be expected to sell products?
  • Is there a minimum time between treatments? Some clinics only allow 15 minutes between treatments.
  • Is there a minimum or maximum number of bookings per week? How much control will you have over your own hours?
  • Does the clinic have a policy manual?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • How long in advance do clients currently have to book their appointments? This is an easy way to gauge how busy you’ll be when you join them.
  • Are there clinic-specific processes and paperwork you’ll expected to follow? What forms do they use for health histories and assessment and treatment planning?
  • Is there a dress code?
  • Is the clinic owner present in the clinic on a regular basis? If not, is the clinic managed day to day by a manager or receptionist?
  • What continuing education support do they offer, if any?

Since you’ve already reviewed your priorities and goals, it should be easy to determine what answers you need to hear to these questions in order to be comfortable taking the job. Don’t be afraid to print off a list of questions to bring with you to the interview.

Step 2: The Interview

A relaxing hand massage

Finally, it’s time to put all that preparation to the test! My first piece of advice is to be confident. Not just because confidence and a professional manner are two of the “intangibles” that employers look for, but because you deserve to be. You have worked very hard and have been trained to the national standard. You have a lot to be proud of, and the interview is the time to show that off.

Your interview is likely to have two parts: a conversation with the employer, and a massage. When setting up the interview, confirm whether they’d prefer both during the same appointment, or if they’d like you to come back later for the massage (or vice versa). Wear your scrubs to perform the massage.

The interviewer may ask you to perform specific techniques, but most likely you’ll just be asked to perform a relaxation massage. Make sure you’re clear on their expectations regarding the style and length of the massage at the outset. Regardless of the style of massage, make sure you do a thorough health history and assessment. As you work, describe what you’re doing and why. Try to impress them with your flow, rhythm, and tissue engagement skills. This is also a great opportunity to discuss all the other techniques and modalities you’ve been taught, from hydrotherapy and remedial exercise, to seated and sports massage. Make sure they know how well you understand the concepts of assessment and treatment planning, and the conditions you’re able to treat.

Step 3: Don’t Settle

Remember, just because you’re offered a job doesn’t mean you have to take it. There are lots of jobs out there, so you don’t have to accept anything that doesn’t meet your standards. We recommend that you apply at a few places, and choose your favourite.

Don’t be afraid to walk away if something doesn’t feel right. What constitutes a red flag, or even a deal breaker, will vary from person to person. But here are a few specific things to watch out for during the interview and contract negotiation process:

  • Is the clinic clean? Does it seem organized and professional?
  • Do they have a comprehensive record-keeping system for health histories, SOAP notes, etc?
  • Is the employer vague about what your duties or responsibilities will be?
  • Do they seem more interested in hiring a salesperson than an RMT?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the number of shifts you’ll be expected to work?

If you’re still happy, it’s time to get down to the small print…

Step 4: No Loose Ends

A clearly written contract (or rental agreement) is essential. No matter how much you like and trust your employer or landlord, it’s imperative that you have the details of your business relationship in writing, in advance. Circumstances and relationships change, and memories can be fuzzy. Having a detailed written contract will protect both of you, and provide an easy reference to resolve misunderstandings and disputes.

Ideally, your contract won’t hold any surprises. Since you were so prepared for your interview, and asked so many great questions, it should simply reiterate what you’ve already talked about. Read it thoroughly before signing it, to make sure that you still agree with everything in there. It may be a good idea to have a friend or fellow RMT take a look before you sign. Don’t be afraid to ask the employer about anything you find unclear; request that they rewrite any confusing sections before you sign.

In addition to the topics included in the questions above, make sure that your contract is clear on your start date, what happens when you leave the clinic (what notice is required from both sides? Who will own client files? Is there a non-compete clause?), holidays and sick days (if you’re an employee), and what the grievance and disciplinary procedures are should either of you have a problem.

Congratulations on your first RMT job! We are incredibly proud of you and all that you’ve accomplished over the past two years, and are excited to watch the next step in your journey.

Your first RMT position is really important; it’s your first “real world” experience as a massage therapist, and will help set the tone for the rest of your career. Finding a job that excites and inspires you, in an environment that offers both challenges and support, is essential. We hope that having done all this research and preparation will ensure that your first job will fit the bill. But it might not, and that’s ok. It’s alright to leave! Even a bad experience can be worthwhile, as long as you learn from it.

We wish you the best.

Getting a Reflexology treatment

It’s that time of year again—job search time! Every spring, second-year Vicars students look beyond their upcoming final exams and begin securing RMT positions in their communities. And those efforts pay off! Last year, 65% of our graduating students already had positions lined up when they graduated; a further 29% had secured a place within three months of finishing the program.

These fantastic results are thanks to our students’ diligence and proactive attitudes, and the Vicars reputation. Across Western Canada, employers know that Vicars therapists are some of the best in the biz.

To help this year’s graduating class achieve just as much success as previous alumni, we’ve put together some of our best advice on how to find a great job as an RMT. We had so much to say that we divided it into two posts.

Keep reading below for help choosing the right position for your needs, researching clinics, and finding job postings. Check back soon for our advice for the interview itself. Special thanks to Linda McGeachy in Calgary and Laura Finley and Adena Mai-Jardine in Edmonton for sharing their wisdom.

Massage therapy jobs are like massage therapists themselves; no two are exactly alike! Because they’re such great therapists, Vicars grads have their choice of the best jobs—but what’s best for one student might not suit another. So the first step to finding the perfect RMT position for you, is…

Step 1: Know Thyself

Getting a reflexology treatment

In order to find a clinic environment that meets your needs, you need to know what those needs are. Take a few moments (or hours, or days) for honest self-reflection. Think about your goals and passions, and your strengths and weakness, both personal and professional (it’s easy to forget how much those overlap).

Consider the following questions—it may even be useful to sit down and write out the answers for yourself.

  • When I envision my perfect clinic environment, what does it look like? Why? What attracts me to it?
  • Do I want to be self-employed (either completely on my own, or as a contractor in someone else’s clinic), or an employee?
  • Which is a higher priority to me right now? Flexibility, income, type of massage I perform, or something else?
  • What are my strengths as a massage therapist? What are my weaknesses? (Be honest! Your ideal workplace is somewhere that will take advantage of your strengths, and help support you in areas where you’re less confident).
  • Do I want to do mostly relaxation, or mostly therapeutic massage?
  • Are there particular conditions, populations, or techniques that really excite me?
  • Do I want to work with other RMTs, other health practitioners, or even alone?
  • How involved do I want to be in the business side of massage therapy? Am I comfortable being responsible for my own marketing, booking, etc?
  • How far am I willing to commute for work?
  • What days and hours am I willing to work?

Answering these questions will help you determine what type of position you should search for.

Speaking of which…

Step 2: Entrepreneur, Employee, or Contractor?

RMTs work in large and small massage clinics, wellness centres, spas, gyms, in their own homes… wherever they please, basically!

In addition to choosing your preferred working environment, you’ll also need to know whether you’d like to work for yourself (either starting your own business or as a self-employed contractor), or for someone else as an employee. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

If the entrepreneurial life is for you, we recommend you go back to the business plan you completed in the fall. Assuming you took the time to craft a realistic plan (of course you did!), that assignment will be an enormous help to you now. In the past, Vicars grads have taken that completed assignment directly to the bank. We recommend that you review it to ensure that it’s still an accurate reflection of the business you’d like to start, and then you can get cracking!

(By the way, even if you don’t want to start your own business, it’s worth your time to review that assignment, as it may help you answer some of those questions from the previous section).

If you’d like to work in someone else’s business – be it a chiropractic office, massage clinic, or gym – decide whether you’d prefer to be a contractor, or an employee. As a contractor you will generally have more freedom, but also more responsibilities. An employee has less say in their hours, rates, etc, but will often have to do less on the business side.

So now you know the type of environment in which you’d like to work, and the role you’d prefer to play there. All you have to do now is find it…

Step 3: Looking for Openings

A great place to start is the school’s very own Facebook page. We get new job postings every week from clinics all over the province, and put them up there in chronological order. But don’t assume that just because a posting is a few weeks old, it’s no longer relevant. Because the massage industry is booming, and our alumni are mostly fully employed, many of those jobs won’t have been filled yet. Scroll through all the listings from the last few months, and see what catches your eye. Local listings in newspapers and online may also be useful.

But don’t be limited to job postings, especially if you’re outside one of the big cities – take the initiative, and you’ll be rewarded. Find a clinic that looks promising, and walk right in!

Search for clinics in your community (use Google Maps, the Yellow Pages, recommendations from friends, etc) that look like they might fit your parameters, and check them out. Check out their website, and look for reviews on sites like Yelp. Stop in to introduce yourself, and to get a general “feel” for the place.

If it still seems promising, we recommend booking a massage there, even before you’ve applied. You don’t have to share any more information than you feel comfortable with, but feel free to introduce yourself as a massage therapy student.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s time to start applying! We’ll discuss interviews and contracts in Part 2, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with two words: Cover Letter. Always include a cover letter as part of your application. No exceptions. It gives you a chance to introduce yourself and explain why they should consider you above other applicants, but it also shows that you’ve taken that little bit of extra effort.

Good luck, and check back soon for Part 2, Interviews and Contracts!