In August 2011, I embarked on a new path. I took my first class in Massage Therapy on Monday, August 22. Since then I've studied a lot, and learned a lot, and given a lot of practice massages.
The first semester was tough, since I had to relearn how to be a student -- and since I hadn't taken the two non-Massage classes the summer before. To be fair, I hadn't known I would be going to massage school in time to get into those classes during the summer before -- and one of them had been cancelled anyway. But still, it was challenging taking two different anatomy classes simultaneously. (In my dreams at the beginning, they'd over lap each other - in reality, they did that for about one week).
The second semester's class load was lighter, but they made up for it by introducing clinicals (wherein we gave three massages back to back to members of the public - a test to see if we could do it, and practice for working in the real world), and Community Outreach obligations (wherein we took massage chairs out into the world and gave free chair massages to spread the joy). The first day of clinicals I came home so exhausted I could barely eat dinner. The second day was much better, and by the third shift, it was almost easy. Except for the studying and stuffing my brain with all the pathology information.
The summer "semester" was intense, with classes feeding information to us like drinking water from a fire hose. In the midst of the flood, we continued with clinicals and community outreach, and I tested myself by doing added shifts in the clinical tour -- thus learning how I'd stand up to giving six massages in a day (As with the first round, the first day I worked two shifts, I was exhausted, but the second day was not bad).
In August 2012, I graduated from massage school, took a couple weeks off to breathe, and began to study in earnest. I set myself the goal of re-reading all of my textbooks AND going through two prep guides. Looming before me <queue ominous music> was <ominous music, mezzo forte> the NCETMB, <fade ominous music to mezzo piano> the National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. <end ominous music>. That's one of the lovely tests that one has to take to be licensed as a professional Massage Therapist here. There is an alternative test - <queue ominous music, mezzo piano> the MBLEx <fade ominous music to piano)>, the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam. <end ominous music>. I chose to take both.
Well, the States continue be all shifty about which exam is going to be THE national exam. Some states take one, some states take the other, some states take BOTH, and a few hold outs don't take either, because they have their own. MY state currently takes either (or both, depending on how you look at it). -- The rules say:
"The applicant has successfully completed an approved massage therapy program in accordance with Section 1284.20 and passed the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork's (NCBTMB) examination or the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB)."
So. I figured that as long as there are two certification bodies, and I live in a state that has been known to get a bit excited with professional regulation rules (like abruptly raising all sorts of license fees that last time we were in a budget crunch), I wanted to be SURE that I had whichever certification they changed their mind to require. Additionally, certification by both organizations means that should we up and move when the girls have graduated high school, I won't discover that I have the wrong certification for some future state. (That prospect looked probabe a few years ago, but is looking less and less likely as time goes on).
I also figured that if I took both tests back to back, I'd only have to do the massive study push once. After all, they cover the same material (mostly), just in slightly different ratios. So... I studied.
Hmm? What was on these exams? Well, astounding as it may seem, these exams covered:
- Physiology (including cell chemistry)
-- these two areas covered by structure and function
- Orthopedic Assessment
- Massage Application including physiologic and psychologic effects of specific strokes
- Benefits and Effects of various massage modalities
- Treatment Planning
- Business (including taxes)
- Basics of Asian Bodywork including Chinese Medicine, Tui Na, Ayurveda, Shiatsu
- Ethics and Professionalism.
- Regulations, Licensing.
- History of Massage, including identifying WHO devloped specific modalities.
Just in case any of my classmates decide to read this, I'll share my study plan in the next installment.