Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Professional Interviews: Kimberly, Registered Massage Therapist

Another in my series of interviews about people's jobs, because that's something I'm interested in. Please note that I am still at the stage in learning interview technique where I only do people I've known 19+ years, and I'm still fiddling with the format. Please also note that the tone of this interview might have been affected by the fact that Kimberly will shortly be leaving the profession.

Kimberly defines registered massage therapist as "a licenced health-care practitioner who uses their hands, forearms and elbows to manipulate muscles and soft tissues of the body to decrease pain and increase a person's range of motion."

Kim works at a spa 1 day a week, and a clinic the rest of the time. She says at the start of their careers, "Most RMTs work in at least 2 different places just so they can get enough clients. Then they gradually switch to 1 place as they build up a client base.

RR wanted to know the difference between registered and non-registered massage therapists...it turned out to be a big issue! Kim says, "RMTs have been to school and are licenced by the province they work in, they have liability insurance, and we follow standards regarding hygiene, sanitation issues...someone who is a 'body worker' (RR could hear the quotation marks) may not necessarily clean the sheets between clients, doesn't have a knowledge of anatomy and physiology, they could injure you, they wouldn't know how to work with a health concern and the type of massage that they would provide would likely be for relaxation only...or for 'other' purposes...

"I have an interesting story about that. There's a place near where I live that had aromatherapy/body massage, which was a cover for a rub-n-tug. And the police found out and the place was fined $1000 for not having a licence for operating that sort of establishment (RR is surprised such licenses are available). What makes me angry is that RMTs have to work so hard to be professional because there's these places (sigh)...If an RMT were to work inappropriately in any way, and they were caught by our governing board, they would probably be fined around $10 000, stripped of their licence and ostracized by the community. It's crazy.

"My friend M is a massage therapist at a high-end day spa. She had a client ask her for a 'release' at the end of his massage. And he knew she was registered and it was a reputable place. That's one of the drawbacks of being an RMT, especially if you are a young woman."

What are some of the pluses? "You get to work one-on-one with people, and people get really close because there's sort of a friendship that's built between therapist and client. And you get to see the difference you can make in someone's life by taking away chronic pain or stiffness, just using your hands. I especially like massaging pregnant women, even though it's more difficult, because they benefit more from having a massage, because of the way your body changes during pregnancy. Sometimes during a prenatal treatment, you'll see the baby react to the massage and you can tell that they enjoy it too. Which is really neat."

What is a typical day like? (we did a day at the spa, because K thought that'd be more interesting than the clinic; hours at the clinic are also longer and more irregular) "At the spa, I work 9 to 5, doing a max of 6 1-hour massages with 15 minutes between. If I'm lucky, the administrative staff won't book any back-to-back (at the clinic, she books her own) and I will get a lunch, but I'm not always lucky. Sometimes, I have to wolf down a granola bar between appointments. When you are massaging, you are standing 95% of the time, so you are always hungry.

"I usually stretch for a good 20 minutes before work, which is unusual...I think a lot of RMTs forget. Coincidentally, a lot of RMTs injure themselves with tendinitis, carpal tunnel, nerve problems, that sort of thing.

"Where I work, we have to pull each person's file, have a little mini-interview to find out if there have been health changes and what areas are causing them pain. And then we leave the room while they get on the table. Most people have a full-body massage but occasionally, half a body is more conducive to a therapeutic treatment.

"During the massage, most women tend to talk for a bit and then sort of relax, whereas most men tend to talk the whole time. Especially if they're a first-time client. Within the first 10 minutes, men will tell me their weight, how much weight they can lift, and whether or not they're dating someone. It follows a pattern every time, it's creepy. Most women just sort of veg out.

"I've learned from experience that it's better to answer questions about me in vague terms. The front desk handles all the books and payment, and linen services does the linens. Which is the ideally convenient situation for an RMT, although it's not as profitable as owning your own clinic and doing it all yourself."

What sort of person would be a bad fit for this job? "You shouldn't be an RMT if you need a predictable regular paycheque, which is one of my biggest complaints. If you have any physical problems, [you shouldn't do this] because it's a very physically demanding job. If you are a very loud person, that wouldn't be good, either. You need to have a voice that's conducive to relaxing. And if you have any weird aversions to people's feet or bad skin or body odour, or any of the other possible quirks you clients might have, [this isn't the job for you].

"The person who should be an RMT is professional, committed to healing pain naturally, likes long periods of time when they can think, and ideally has some time they can afford until their business is profitable. It also helps to want to be your own boss."

Kim adds this note to you, the blog reader: "The worst part of the job is when a client doesn't show up for their appointment and you're left waiting for them, not knowing if they're late or just not coming. So you wind up wasting your time and not getting paid. So tell your blog-readers to keep their appointments!!"

You're like an Indian summer / in the middle of winter

No comments: