Sanford Massage Therapy Students Gear up for April Clinic

Members of the public are welcome to come for affordable massages from students-in-training

If you’re looking for a place to get a reasonably priced massage in the Sanford area, then look no further than Seacoast Career Schools. Three students in the Massage Therapy program will be operating an on-campus massage clinic during the first week of April at the Sanford Campus, so they can practice the techniques they’ve been learning. Members of the public are welcome to make appointments for Monday through Thursday of that week, generally between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

The school charges the extremely affordable rate of $25 for a 60-minute Swedish massage, and all of the money the students earn goes towards supplies for the clinic and the Massage Therapy program. Merideth Emery, who is a part-time Massage Therapy instructor at Seacoast and directs the massage clinic, says the students cannot accept tips, gift cards, or anything that could be considered income, since they are not yet certified as massage therapists. “I make it very clear to clients that any amount they give will go towards sheets, towels, lotions, and other equipment,” she says.

Two of the Massage Therapy students who will be working at the school’s annual massage clinic in April, are enjoying a quick cup of hot chocolate during their break in the front lobby before they head back to class.

An on-campus internship

Emery, who is herself a licensed massage therapist, explains that the students take part in the clinic in lieu of the externship experience that students from other Seacoast programs do after completing their coursework. “Until they are licensed, the students are not able to perform massages in a spa or other professional environment,” she says. “But our clinic sets up a simulated experience for them.”

In addition to performing massages, the students are also responsible for the administrative aspects of running the clinic, such as taking calls, booking appointments using an online system, and organizing intake forms from new and returning clients. Emery says that all three of the students who will participate in April are likely to have 4 or 5 appointments per day over the course of the four days. All together they are each required to devote 120 hours, and 65 of those hours must be hands-on.

A closely supervised experience

As the director of the clinic, Emery supervises everything the students do. She is always on site, right across the room while students are performing massages. “This is a great opportunity for the students to practice the many techniques they have trained in,” she says, “from body mechanics to logistics like adjusting the table height.” She points out that it is a good time for them to become more fluid with aspects of massage that require practice, such as doing certain strokes and learning to make it look effortless as they drape the client’s body.

“The students love the experience,” Emery says, “because it gives them a good idea of what it will be like once they’re out working in a professional context.” She says that during the clinic she is no longer operating as their instructor, but instead functions as their boss. “We expect perfect attendance, just as an employer would,” she says. “In the past, if one of the students called in sick, then just like at a spa, I required the other students to handle it by calling the clients and rescheduling as needed.” She truly expects the students to operate as though they are on a job site, and to take full personal responsibility for the running of the clinic.

A chance to showcase many skills

As part of the evaluation process the students undergo in preparation for the clinic, they must each demonstrate their ability to perform 35 different skills. These extend beyond the technical aspects of giving massages, ranging from professionalism in their demeanor to administrative skills such as answering phones, booking appointments, and filing.

“When the student meets with a first-time client, they’ve learned to initiate a conversation about the person’s needs, ailments, and issues, as well as any medications the client may be taking,” Emery says. The student creates a confidential card for each client, which is secured in a locked file room after hours, to adhere to HIPAA regulations—just as any spa or doctor’s office would. “Even in terms of using the online booking system,” Emery says, “students are careful to ensure that none of the patients can see any of the screens, to protect patient confidentiality.”

Keeping good records

After each massage, the students complete what are called “SOAP” notes, which stands for Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan. Health care providers use this strategy to record:

  • what the client reports as their issue (considered “subjective”), such as “My shoulder hurts.”
  • what the therapist encounters and observes during the visit (considered “objective”), such as an adhesion in the clients’ rhomboid muscles.
  • what treatment the therapist deemed as appropriate (assessment)
  • what the therapist recommends to the client in terms of future treatment (plan).

“For a returning client to the clinic, the student can refer back to these notes, to find out what issues there may have been in the past,” Emery says. “Then, the student can talk with the client during the intake, find out if any of those issues have resolved, and then devise an updated treatment plan.”

Looking towards graduation

Emery is optimistic about the timing when these students will be graduating, since it will be just before the beginning of Maine’s tourist season. “I personally know spa owners from Kittery to Bar Harbor,” she says, “and last year none of them were fully staffed.” She believes that the heightened interest in massage therapy is the result of people wanting to focus more on holistic approaches to healing. She says she’s excited for her students to have the chance to get out onto the job market and begin working.

Additional services available

For the clinic, students are able to offer some additional services. If clients would prefer a 90-minute massage, then students will schedule these, as they are available, for an additional fee. The students also offer other add-on services, such as a cold stone facial or a reflexology treatment, for $15 each.

To get out the word about the clinic, the school mails post cards out to previous clients to let them know the dates. If you’re interested in scheduling a massage in early April, call the Sanford campus at 207-490-0509 to book an appointment. The location is 1 Eagle Drive, Sanford, ME 04073. The students hope to see you in April!

This post is part of the weekly blog of Seacoast Career Schools. Learn more about our Massage Therapy or other professional training programs in Dental Assisting, Medical Assisting, or Medical Billing and CodingReach out to us today, online or call 800-758-7679, and schedule a tour of one of our two campuses, in Manchester, NH, and Sanford, ME.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *