As more medical institutions and patients learn about the health benefit of massage and complementary and alternative medicine, opportunities for licensed massage therapists in hospital settings increase. A large number of consumers and health care providers are using massage therapy and bodywork for pain management and for other important health issues. Massage therapy is increasingly embraced in many different medical fields, including oncology, cardiovascular, and maternal medicine. Massage can have a powerful, positive impact for patients undergoing stressful procedures, surgery or chemotherapy, or for any patient experiencing pain or anxiety.
Medical centers can be a rewarding and educational environment, furthering a massage practitioner’s skills and abilities. However, if accustomed to working in a slower-paced, autonomous practice such as a spa, working in the medical environment can be challenging. Weigh the rewards and benefits of hospital work against the difficulties to decide if working in a hospital could be for you.
There are some critical differences in hospital-based massage therapy compared with a private office or spa setting. The hospital environment, in general, is vastly different from traditional massage therapy settings, with many patients requiring special considerations.
Success in a hospital setting is dependent on how well the practitioner adapts to the faster-paced environment and how well they are able to interact with a large staff of health care workers. In a medical setting, patients are cared for by a team rather than the one-on-one arrangement of a private practice. This can increase the sense of community, but can also be an adjustment from other massage venues.
Additionally, the fluorescent lights, noises, the hustle and bustle and constant commotion of a hospital are a far cry from the soothing tranquility of a spa. However, the most important difference, perhaps, involves the clientele. The hospital-based massage therapist works with patients with varying degrees of illness, including those near the end of life. These patients require special accommodations to ensure massage is always beneficial and does not cause any harm or otherwise exacerbate their condition.
In a hospital setting, massage therapists are expected to understand the scope of their work. A patient may receive treatment not only from medical doctors and nurses but also from physical and occupational therapists, so the massage therapist must understand how his/her treatment fits into the patient’s treatment plan overall. The massage therapist is part of a team that works together to provide the best care possible.
For massage therapists who choose to embrace the physical and emotional challenges of working with patients, can work within the structure of a medical setting, and are willing to learn the requisite medical terminology, hospital-based employment can offer a financially and emotionally rewarding opportunity, one that allows massage therapists to truly make a difference in patients’ lives. Contact us to take the next step toward becoming a licensed massage therapist.