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In this Post: Are you considering massage work in a Physical Therapy or Chiropractic Office? This type of medical massage is not for the faint of heart, a clear knowledge of the body and all of its systems is hugely important when entering into this type of a practice. Learn all of the factors to consider when entering this field of practice.
Are you super into anatomy? Do you love figuring out solutions to unique health problems, devising treatment plans, and implementing involved hands-on techniques? If you answered yes to these questions, working in a clinical environment such as a Chiropractors office or a Physical Therapy Clinic might be the perfect work situation for you!
The orthopedic work that comes with working in these types of practices can be hugely rewarding. Taking a medical approach to massage opens up a whole new level of care. Helping folks recover after an accident or surgery, or preventing them from having to get surgery is an amazing thing!
Massage Therapists Who Have Worked In PT Clinics And Chiropractic Offices
In compiling this post, I was able to connect with several practitioners who have worked in both chiropractic and physical therapy offices. Their years of experience provided some valuable information to consider if you are thinking this line of massage is something you would like to pursue.
Erica Olson of Heartfire Massage in Steamboat Springs recently moved her practice into a PT clinic. She states, “I couldn’t be happier with the move and the knowledge I am gleaning from working beside some very talented professionals!”.
Of course, this clinical environment has its pros and cons like any other type of environment. You would be wise to consider all the elements involved before jumping in feet first to a practice of this type.
“Some people just don’t have the schooling for this type of work.” Observes Mark Holmberg of Vital Touch in Broomfield, Colorado. He has watched practitioners enthusiastically join forces with chiropractors only to watch them quit within a few weeks. He advises therapists to get loads of education, much more than what is being offered in massage school.
Pros of Massage Work In A PT Or Chiropractic Office
Diversity of Work
This type of work is specifically tailored to each individual’s needs, this creates a great deal of diversity in the kinds of work you will perform. One session you may be helping reduce inflammation from a recent shoulder surgery, the next working on someone with severe scoliosis. Some sessions may be short, while others long. Each day will be very different!
Many Learning Opportunities Available
You may have the opportunity to sit-in on treatments from these professionals. You can learn so much from taking advantage of this! Often when we observe how someone else tackles challenging conditions, light bulbs go off for how we can modify our treatments. Through observation, you will also find yourself gaining a deeper understanding of how the body works, and methods to facilitate healing. These professionals can even demonstrate and potentially teach you some of their hands-on knowledge. You could learn traction movements, stretches, and great self-care techniques to empower your clients on their healing journey. Talk about on the job CEU’s.
Built-in Referral Network
Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to help your clients progress in their treatment, you can work as a team. You can devise ways to treat the client in conjunction with one another.
Trades As An Added Bonus
You can trade work to help keep your body operating in tip-top shape. This has the added benefit of giving credibility when you suggest your client check out the services of those with whom you share space. You can speak about their treatments with hands-on knowledge and experience. By receiving work from these professionals, there is also opportunity for knowledge transfer. Of course, remember that trades are considered taxable income.
Increased Referral Network
You will get to know many healthcare professionals when you work in this type of setting which opens you up to a whole new level of referrals. Referrals are a beautiful thing! People are so much more likely to check you out if a trusted friend or practitioner has given you the green light!
Because insurance billing occurs in 15-minute increments, many of the sessions you perform could be quick 30-minute sessions. Ana Malachowski of Artistic Hands Massage in Phoenix, Arizona who has worked in a chiropractic setting for over 8 years, says that 80% of her sessions are 30-minutes in length.
People typically come in knowing exactly what they want you to focus on, they have specific complaints. Often due to auto accidents, surgeries, and other trauma’s.
Cons of Massage Work In A PT Or Chiropractic Office
Intimidation of Anatomical Knowledge
You will probably want to have a clear anatomical understanding of the body if you intend to work in such close proximity with these types of professionals. If you are not clear about your origins, insertions, and actions you may find yourself a little embarrassed and underprepared at times.
You may find yourself doing more homework regarding specific conditions that you might in another type of practice. While it can be rewarding to help with rare and unusual conditions, it may mean a little more time spent pouring over the books at night.
You better be good at taking detailed notes if you plan on working in this environment. The PT’s and Chiro’s are going to what to see the specifics of how you approach the body, as well as the insurance companies you may be billing.
Workman’s Comp, and Insurance Claims may be a regular part of your practice. It can sometimes be like pulling teeth to get paid. I have waited over a year to be reimbursed from an insurance claim.
This typically is not the most relaxing of environments. If you are drawn to relaxation work, you may not enjoy having someone jumping to strengthen their post-surgery knee right outside your treatment door. If peace and quiet is what you are looking for in your work environment, you may want to check out the spa down the street.
When you are in a PT office, tipping is often discouraged.
Often these type of offices offer massage memberships. Memberships typically translate into pay cuts for massage therapist.
Requests Outside Uour scope
People may ask you to do things outside of your scope of practice. For example, you may find people asking you to do adjustments because you work in a chiropractic office. This is an opportunity to educate your clients. Explain to them why it is outside your scope and areas you are able to assist their recovery.
Advice for Massage Work In A PT Or Chiropractic Office
Make sure that you are working with a group of PT’s or chiropractors who you respect, and who respect you! When you find the right group, you will see that they view massage as a compliment to their work as opposed to competition. Ana says to, “Make sure that you are working WITH not working FOR these professionals.” This distinction translates to a higher level of respect across the fields.
You can learn so much if you are open to observing and exploring with these professionals.
Ask questions when you are unclear or don’t quite understand something. The more questions you ask, the more you will learn, and the better practitioner you will become.
Stay Up On CEU’s
Take a lot of continuing education. Specifically in physiology, kinesiology, and anatomy. Jennifer Smetanick of Intreprid Bodyworks in Northglenn, Colorado says the Erik Dalton courses are her favorite.
Because of how physically demanding this type of massage work is, self-care is extra important.
When I was in massage school, I did internships at two different PT clinics. One of my most memorable learning experiences during the whole time I was in massage school came at one of these clinics.
A woman came into the clinic whose hand had been crushed by a cow. She had broken nearly all the bones in her hand. With the guidance of the PT on duty, I massaged her hand for 90-minutes. Every time I thought I had done all that I could, the PT would come back and advice me in a new and interesting way.
It blew my mind to think that I could spend that much time in one area of the body! My work changed drastically after this experience. I realized that sometimes the body needs extremely focused and detailed work. Slowing down enough to listen and feel the subtle changes in the tissue is the work of a truly gifted massage therapist! I am so thankful for the experience I had under the tutelage of this fine PT.
If you want to keep your brain engaged with challenging, thought-provoking working in a Physical Therapy or Chiropractic Office could be just the setting for you! Your knowledge will grow exponentially working in such a medically based arena. If anatomy is your thing, get out there and find yourself a PT or chiropractor in with to join forces.
- Boulder College of Massage Therapy Graduate
- Nationally Certified through NCBTMB
- Colorado Licensed Massage Therapist
- Certified CranialSacral Level 1 through Upledger
- Certified Herbal Therapist through Nutrition Therapy Institute
- Certified Fujian Massage through Barefoot Masters
- Fort Lewis College - Majored in Art, Minored in Business Administration
- 6 Year Winner of Best Massage Therapist for "Best of The Boat" Competition
- Massage Business Owner Since 2008