"The breadth of the work is stimulating, and I always love getting in front of a group and teaching new things," says Renee Stenbjorn, who will lead the session "Imaging Fascia" at the AMTA 2013 Schools Summit. Read Renee's story below.
What led you to pursue a career in massage therapy?
After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in psychology and community health, I spent several years working in an medical office environment. This work was very important as I was able to help many of the patients with their health insurance needs and other tasks. However, I was compelled to do work that was more personal. After thorough research, I decided massage therapy was a great fit for me. I graduated from East West College in Portland in 2000 and have been massaging and teaching ever since.
What is your current work environment like?
I co-founded the Albuquerque School of Massage Therapy with Dawn Saunders in 2010. Earlier this year, I was able to start working there as both an Instructor and the director of education. Our environment is beautiful, surrounded by cottonwood trees with a full view of the mountains.
We have a small student body with wonderful students. My work day includes teaching, working with students, supervising the massage clinic and performing administrative tasks to support the school. I also practice massage therapy here with a concentration on neuromuscular therapy and myofascial massage.
What do you enjoy most about your job? What are the challenges?
I enjoy working with wonderful, energetic people in a supportive environment. We all have fun together—the teachers and the students! From introductory massage to supervising research projects, I am able to teach nearly every subject in the curriculum. The breadth of the work is stimulating, and I love getting in front of a group and teaching new things.
The challenge has been taking a brand new school and creating an interest in our work, both locally and nationally. In our intro-level massage program, we integrate research in several places of the curriculum and drive our teaching by the best evidence-based practices. Additionally, we have developed several exciting programs for the advanced therapist, including massage on athletes and an integrated medicine massage therapist training program.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I actually love being in front of people and being both entertaining and informative. My classroom style is very laid back, with lots of discussions and Q&A time. I really enjoy being with the students and the fun we have while we are learning. Over the past decade, I have learned a lot about massage therapy, pathology and other topics. I enjoy passing the knowledge along to others. I am not interested in creating “massage clones”—I encourage experimentation and creative thinking. This approach creates knowledgeable and capable therapists.
As a school administrator, I also have to balance the needs of the school with those of the instructors and students. I enjoy the excitement of keeping it all going!
What will be some of the key take-aways of your Schools Summit session “Imaging Fascia?"
I hope to communicate my knowledge of fascia on the cellular and tissue level with many visual tools. I look forward to introducing topics on the cutting-edge of fascia while introducing teaching tools that all attendees can immediately put to use in their classrooms. We will discuss fascial layering, fascial innervation abd the neuromuscular junction.
As always, I enjoy meeting so many others who are doing similar work. I love to get input from other professionals and spending time with those who are passionate about our field and our mission. I hope it will be a lot of fun!