“Believe it or not, I have been going back and forth about this for over a decade,” explains Stephanie Degenaro, current student in the American Institute of Alternative Medicine’s Western Massage Therapy Program. When she first began searching for a career Stephanie was intrigued by the idea of physical therapy, which is linked with similar framework needed for a career in massage therapy. However, she decided to pursue a Bachelors of Environmental Health from Bowling Green University instead. After over ten years working in this field, she has been drawn back to massage. “I knew I needed to do it now, or I would never do it. I am still working full time. I work Monday through Thursday, go to class on Friday and Saturday, and then working the clinic on Sundays. It seems like a lot, but I knew I could do it, the program is only one year long, and I knew I could make it a year!” To complete her clinic hours, Stephanie must provide massage therapy services to clients from the Columbus, Ohio community who visit AIAMs massage and acupuncture clinic to seek relief. This is an aspect of the WMT program that students look forward to the most- putting the skills they learn in the classroom to use. “I love it; I work in the clinic almost every Sunday. AIAM’s clinic has a lot of regular clients so you get to see familiar faces often. I remember the first time I had to give a 2 hour massage to someone- my patient came in with a lot of pain, and not in the best mood. When she left I remember she had this blissed out look on her face. I asked how she was feeling and she said ‘I feel like I don’t weigh anything!’ I’ll never forget that. It felt so good to have met my goal.” AIAMs 12 month massage therapy program is great for many student due to its length, however fitting a lot of information in to a year can present challenges for students, but nothing the instructors at AIAM can’t help students overcome. “The pace of the program is quick! You have to adjust to that when you begin, to figure out the best way for you to take in a lot of information in a short amount of time. Any hands-on class is great, I love that we are able to practice massage on our classmates before we do the real deal. Any class with Jayne is great too! She is an amazing instructor, and I have learned so much from her. I took anatomy before, in my undergrad at BGSU, and these anatomy classes are definitely the most intense I have experienced, but somehow, she makes them so much fun!” Massage therapy has been ranked as one of the most “calm” careers, and rightfully so. Massage therapists must learn to leave their stress outside the door when working with clients to ensure their client has a relaxing experience. “For me, giving a massage is relaxing. You have to be calm when you work. When I shut the door to begin the session, my tension stays outside, no matter what has been going on that day. It gives you a chance to relax along with your patient, and focus your energy on something positive.” Many students, like Stephanie, have turned to massage therapy after years of working in an unrelated field. When asked if she regrets not pursuing massage sooner, Stephanie had this to say:
“Knowing how happy this career makes me, there is a part of me wishes I would have done it sooner. I really do feel, though, that it was a case of right place/right time for me. Had I pursued this sooner, maybe I wouldn’t have ended up here at AIAM, and I’m so glad I did. My classmates are so supportive! We are all very different, but we’re all here with the same idea; to help care for other people. Massage is so fulfilling for me, and being at AIAM has helped me realize how rewarding it is. This school is a special place.”
After graduation, Stephanie plans on continuing to work in both careers while developing her skills as a LMT and hopes to start her massage therapy career working with a team of other therapists that she can learn from. She is excited about her future opportunities as a LMT! Stephanie completed the WMT program in March 2015, we can’t wait to see the valuable work she brings to the massage industry!
Have you been torn between your current career, and seeking a career in massage therapy? To discuss if AIAMs massage program might be a good fit for you, call 614.825.6255 or visit www.aiam.edu.