"I love the students and I love being in the classroom...it is a joy and pleasure to see their progress," says Mabel Menadier-Thomas, a community college massage therapy instructor. Read on to find out how Mabel discovered the massage therapy profession and what it's like to be an educator.
What initially drew you to the massage therapy profession?
I was in a motor vehicle accident; the cab of a tractor trailer pinned the tiny Datsun B210 I was driving into a curb. Other than shock, I felt rather okay given the circumstances. The second morning after the crash was a different story. Every movement hurt. I had no rotation of my spine without intense pain. I saw my doctor that morning and received my first massage in her office after the appointment.
I was amazed how quickly the pain subsided and my range of motion improved. I started lap swimming for the first time in my life and the combination of massage and movement was powerful. I had a total of six sessions paid for by insurance and by the last session there was no pain—pure relaxation and enjoyment About six years later, I was looking to change careers from vocational rehabilitation. I have always enjoyed working with my hands and people, so massage was a natural fit.
What do you enjoy most about your work environment? What are some of the challenges?
I teach clinical massage at a community college and I’m also the massage program administrator. I love the students and I love being in the classroom. I receive massage therapy from the students in their final semester of clinic, and it is a joy and pleasure to see their progress.
Some of the challenges of working in a community college are keeping up with technology and being bound by the institution's rules and timeframes.
What one tip would you offer new massage therapists?
Take care of yourself—physically, emotionally and spiritually. You can’t be an exceptional care giver if you don’t take care of yourself first.
How has your involvement with AMTA benefited your career?
My involvement allowed me to provide massage at the 1996 Olympics. My first love of massage was sports massage. I attended wonderful conferences when I was a practicing therapist. I especially enjoy the Schools Summits now that I am on the education side of the profession. The instructors and administrators have been invaluable in helping me with program improvements.
What are you most looking forward to at the AMTA Schools Summit this month?
Networking. There are always quality presenters and I always learn things I can implement when I get back to work, but my favorite part of the Schools Summit is collaborating with colleagues—sharing new ideas, a different perspective, what has worked with other schools...and good food!
›› More about the Schools Summit, February 16-17 in Chicago.
›› More about workplace options.