Audrey Bagnal, LMT, Integrative Healthcare Specialty Certificate Holder
Audrey is a Licensed Massage Therapist with a NCBTMB/CCTC Specialty Certificate in Massage Therapy for Integrative Healthcare. She was the first CCTC graduate to achieve the Specialty Certificate. Audrey currently resides in Manning, South Carolina. Congratulations, Audrey!
How did you discover your love for Massage Therapy?
In the early stages of my career, I went to cardiology technician school. Following my training, I worked for a cardiologist. It was an extremely busy and stressful environment, and I would find myself often making my way around the office giving my co-workers back massages to help them get through the day. I would encourage them, telling them, “It’s going to be okay. We’ll get through the day!” I quickly realized that with these simple actions and words, I could make a positive impact on their day.
Over time, my co-workers began encouraging me to learn more about massage. I was already so good at it, they would say, that I should consider going to school for it. I thought about it a lot, and decided that they might be right. I met with a Central Carolina Technical College advisor and was quickly accepted into the Massage Therapy program.
I fell in love with my classes. Anatomy and Physiology were my favorite, and the business classes were so interesting. I was intrigued at the amount of knowledge I was gaining and I knew I was in the right place at the right time. My life would never be the same.
What have you been up to since graduating from CCTC?
Upon graduation, I first worked at a spa in Columbia, SC for two years. It was a great first “real job” working in massage therapy.
Now, I am a part-time clinical adjunct instructor at my alma-mater, Central Carolina Technical College. I love working with the students, and I actually feel like I make a difference in their lives! It’s also great to give back to a program that gave so much to me.
For additional experience, I also work for a chiropractor, Dr. Vallejo, in Columbia. I really enjoy my time working with him. He has taught me so much about how the muscles really correlate with spinal care. I am so grateful to have such a smart, hard-working doctor as a professional mentor. Simply having that background makes me a stronger, more knowledgeable massage therapist to further serve my patients.
My third job is working at a high-end hotel spa in Florence, SC. This environment is also great for me, as it gives me experience with a different type of clientele I would not otherwise meet working in an academic or medical environment. I enjoy being able to be so diverse and massage therapy is a perfect entryway for that.
Overall, I very much enjoy the variety of students, patients, and clients I have the pleasure of working with. It is such an amazing feeling being able to help so many people in many different scenarios.
What does earning a Specialty Certificate in Massage Therapy for Integrative Healthcare mean to you and your career?
When I started at CCTC, my class was the first to go into a hospital and work with patients. Simply put, I was just so happy there—I loved learning about their unique stories and needs, and the way that massage made them feel. It was heartwarming to me, especially because I have a brother with special needs. Being able to work in the hospital and brighten patients’ days with massage was the best gift. I quickly fell in love with healthcare. I want to work in healthcare one day, especially since I can offer such a non-invasive gift to help patients get through whatever it is that they are going through. We don’t realize how much of their time is spent worrying and waiting on results. It is an amazing gift to be able to take someone’s mind off of the negative experiences in their lives.
With my Specialty Certificate, I now have proof of my specialized education and experience to share with potential employers and patients. With this certificate, I am dedicated to this profession and this environment. My goal is to find a full-time massage therapist job within the healthcare system, and I hope this certificate will help me to further achieve that by setting me apart from other candidates.
Would you encourage others to achieve a Specialty Certificate?
Yes, absolutely! We, as a community of massage therapists, need to be more proactive about becoming involved in the healthcare setting. I want patients to know me, the massage therapist, as part of their healthcare team. I am not there to take blood, prick them with needles, or administer medication. I want them to know that I am there to help take them on a relaxing journey, even for a few minutes, where they can forget about the difficult things they may be going through. I believe everyone has a place in the healthcare team. Doctors, Nurses, and other staff have a crucial part in the needs of patients and I want massage therapists to be able to join that team.
From the massage therapist point-of-view, I see the benefits in working in healthcare. Working in the healthcare environment generally means you are employed by that hospital or medical center. With that, we have access to steady income, benefits, a 401(k)—things we may not have when we work for ourselves or work multiple jobs. For that reason alone, earning a Specialty Certificate to help set yourself apart from other job candidates is reason enough for me to pursue the certificate (and I think it will be for others, too).
In the past, I have heard a lot of people say that a massage therapists only lasts between 3 and 7 year working in the field. I do NOT want that. I want to be a massage therapist for life. Honestly, I don’t have any other plans. I love the massage therapy field and I want to be a part of it for the rest of my career. So, I will continue to set my sights high and achieve the proper education and training to ensure I continue to work my dream job every day. God has really blessed me and I am truly grateful.
What do you wish for the future of the massage therapy profession?
I wish that everyone working in massage therapy as part of a healthcare setting operates from the same standard. I want to know that the massage therapist I am working with, or that I know is working on a patient of mine, has the proper education and training. I believe that with a Specialty Certificate like this one, we have a platform to start that conversation.