Many graduates will probably tell you massage school is one of the most profound educational opportunities you will ever have. If you are successful in your massage program, you will not only be equipped with valuable skills that will lead to a rewarding career in the wellness industry, but also with insight into how the body works, hurts and heals. Being successful, however, is the key to getting everything you can from this experience, and for many students, attaining the level of success they had initially hoped to achieve is harder than expected.
When talking about being successful in any educational program, it is always a good idea to take a advantage of what the school offers you in the form of support (read "Starting Massage School: Get Your Educational Support System in Place," by Kourtnee Kovacs and Scot Maitland), such as a mentoring program, tutorials and study groups---but it is more important to be able to rely on yourself as a way to increase your chances of being successful.
So in an effort to enhance your ability to be successful both in your massage training program and after graduation, try the following massage school success tips. If you practice these skills while you are in school, by the time you enter the job market, you will have surpassed the abilities of many other licensed massage therapists.
1. Prepare--Research what to expect. For example, massage school is not like high school, trade school or college. Ask the right questions about how your program works, and review your student handbook before classes start. When you graduate and begin interviewing for jobs, pre-interview preparation will come more naturally.
2. Balance--Focus on staying mentally and physically healthy while in school. Often students become overwhelmed by studying, project deadlines or tests and do not remember to balance their school lives with their personal lives and wellness. Massage school is both physically and intellectually demanding, and so is the profession. You need to be 100 percent all the time. Rest, good nutritional health and physical fitness are all components of overall wellness that cannot be ignored. Managing this during school will help you transition to be a well-balanced, successful full- or part-time massage therapist.
3. Prioritize--Be clear about the things that are most important and spend time on those first--whether it is a school project or family time. Working in private practice, a busy chiropractic office or spa can be daunting, especially if you have multiple roles in addition to being a massage therapist. Knowing what is most important in your job--answering the phone or finishing a conversation with a client standing in front of you--will give you an added level of professionalism.
4. Attend--Good attendance is one of the most important aspects of being successful in massage school. Not only should you attend every class, especially since each class builds on the next, but you will be most successful in massage school if you are able to complete the coursework in order without having to make up classes. Students who miss classes lose momentum and have a harder time keeping up with classwork. Practicing good attendance in school, which includes being punctual, will help you meet employers' expectations when hired as a massage therapist. Licensed massage therapists are expected to arrive at work on time and have time to prepare for the first appointment of the day; even massage therapists who work for themselves are held accountable by their clients for attendance and punctuality. Therapists whose attendance cannot be relied on will not be successful in school or in their careers.
5. Go beyond--Like anything in life, you will get out of massage school what you put in. For this reason, take it upon yourself to investigate interesting topics you learn about in class. If it is a new massage modality or an aspect of pathology you did not know before, learn its history and context and read research about it or do your own. Following the massage industry's trends--even related fields--by reading current journals, articles and magazines during school will give you added insight into the curriculum that other students will not have. It will also give you a more comprehensive understanding of the material you are covering. After massage school, going beyond what other therapists do to learn more and stay current with industry news will help you stay one step ahead of others in your industry.
While attaining the level of success you expected might be harder than you initially anticipated, practicing these success tips will help you achieve the level of success you planned for when you decided to become a massage therapist. You will not only have an advantage over therapists who might be just as academically qualified as you, but because you have established a "how to be successful" framework for yourself, you will have a much easier time creating your successful massage business. Start practicing success today!