Central Carolina Technical College and Hospital-Based Massage Therapy

As massage therapists are seeking ways to enter the healthcare arena, massage educators are aligning massage therapy curricula for a forecasted increase in healthcare related jobs. One of those programs is the massage therapy program at Central Carolina Technical College. The massage therapy department has made substantial leaps in its short existence of five years in its rural Sumter, South Carolina location. Central Carolina Technical College, founded in 1962, is one of sixteen colleges in the South Carolina Technical College System. The massage therapy certificate program, a 36 credit hours or 915 clock hours entry-level program and NCBTMB assigned school, is also one of nine healthcare programs in the Health Sciences division at the college. 

While the program contains the traditional curriculum which covers principles found in The Core: Entry Level Massage Blueprint from the ELAP project, its specialty training in hospital-based massage therapy is currently making a significant difference in instructional design and workforce training for massage therapists. The program is one of a handful of programs across the nation that have embraced remodeling massage therapy education to meet healthcare-level standards and expose students to a variety of advanced healthcare clinical experiences prior to graduation. 

Brent Jackson, Academic Program Manager for Massage Therapy and NCBTMB Approved Provider, said, “In accordance with our college’s mission to prepare students for the workplace, our college president, Dr. Tim Hardee, has instilled in us a responsibility to leave any industry better than how we found it. For the department, the task is to transition massage therapy from an educational platform to a healthcare setting. As members of the massage therapy community, we are familiar with the benefits of massage therapy. When designing the clinical experiences, I also see this as an opportunity for massage therapists to be recognized as collaborative members of the healthcare team in improving patient outcomes. It is more importantly an opportunity to help patients.”

According to Miriam Laney, Dean of Health Sciences, “It is not a question of whether the acute-care industry will accept entry-level massage therapy training, but rather how we can best prepare students for a changing Massage Therapy profession.”   

The success of the college’s Massage Therapy program has been a community effort with additional design and support from the college’s nursing faculty, college administrators, staff at three local acute-care facilities and one long-term care facility. The college was first approached by McLeod Regional Health in an effort to prepare students in clinical experience with outpatient oncology and IV infusion patients. The college reinforced its curriculum with more in-depth pathology, healthcare communications training, increased hours for clinical experience and a course solely devoted to pharmacology for massage therapy. In skills labs, the program added simulation training for body fluid exposure, personal protective equipment training, working with frail patients, interdisciplinary communications and cardiac distress scenarios with other healthcare disciplines such as nursing. The college also has a twenty-six bed mock hospital unit with an advanced-computerized simulation unit and two working operating rooms for the Surgical Technology Department. In addition, McLeod Regional Health, Tuomey Healthcare System, Clarendon Health System and NHC Healthcare have worked with the program to create a continuous clinical experience in which the students are assigned a hospital and various units with an instructor for five hours each week for the last twenty-five weeks of the program, in addition to their student clinic and course hours. The program’s students are accessing and training in approximately sixteen different units including Neonatal, Medical-Surgical, Long-term care, Telemetry, Hematology, Sub-acute Rehabilitation, Pain and Spinal Injury, Mental Health, Cardiac Rehabilitation, Women’s Health and outpatient and inpatient oncology units. The program has been able to create a bridge for massage therapists in the community and mirror professionalism of massage therapists while working with other disciplines.

The college is exposing massage therapy to members of the healthcare community who have been reluctant to hire massage therapists. The program has contributed to economic growth as more jobs and opportunities are opening for massage therapists in hospitals, long-term care facilities, pain management centers and physical therapy offices in the four-county area that the college calls home. Central Carolina Technical College and its graduates are contributing to the education of the community by demonstrating short-term massage benefits congruent with current, supporting research in massage therapy.

According to Jeannie Crotts, administrator for NHC, “I believe that it is extremely beneficial, if not essential, to prepare massage therapy students for the healthcare setting during their clinical experiences. It certainly benefits the students, but having the Central Carolina Technical College students complete their clinical experience at NHC has also been beneficial to both our residents and staff. In fact, we have seen that using massage therapy as a non-pharmacological intervention for patients helped us decrease the use of antipsychotic medications. And our physicians have been very pleased with the results. Based on these successes, we are now using licensed therapists who have graduated from the CCTC program on a PRN basis. In many cases, massage therapy has proven to be more economical than medications.”

CCTC has also found ways to contribute to the massage therapy educators’ community by hosting hospital-based massage therapy seminars. The seminars are enabling other colleges to design training for acute-care facilities.  

For more information about the massage therapy certificate program, contact Brent Jackson at (803) 778-7857 or visit Central Carolina Technical College’s Website at http://www.cctech.edu/program-of-study/massage-therapy-mthc/.

Central Carolina Technical College is a comprehensive, public, two-year institution of higher education that is dedicated to fostering a positive environment of teaching and learning for faculty, staff, and students. The College serves primarily the region of Clarendon, Lee, Kershaw, and Sumter counties in South Carolina and confers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Central Carolina students have a wide array of programs and services from which to choose. Our online programming and cooperative agreements with other colleges and universities provide students with exceptional opportunities coupled with our more traditional learning opportunities. Learn more: www.cctech.edu

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