"Most recently I participated on a committee at the national level. Interacting with members from other states was fascinating and I felt like what I was offering really made a difference to the organization," says Jenn Sommermann, former Chair of the NYC/LI chapter of AMTA New York, who has volunteered for three AMTA Committees.
"Sometimes it’s good to expand beyond your backyard and work toward a greater purpose."
What led you to pursue your career in massage therapy?
I had a very unsatisfying corporate career in mathematics and was given a gift certificate for a massage. It was my first experience and literally changed my life. I rescheduled after the first session and after about six visits, I asked the therapist how her career “worked” and how I would go about changing mine. She sent me to an open house at a local school and the rest is history. What appealed to me was the combination of right and left brain work. While my former career was all left brain, I was seeking something with more balance. Twenty-two years later, I still feel that balance and don’t regret my decision.
What types of education have aided in your success?
While I have taken many classes over the years, I think it has been the Ethics and Practice Management classes that have aided in my success the most. Being successful means different things to different people, but, in my own world, I couldn’t have done so well without the support of business classes. Many therapists flock to hands-on classes thinking that will create greater success. That just gives you more in your technique bag of tricks. Helpful, yes but going to make you more successful? Probably not. For me, it’s Practice Management classes any time I can get them.
What do you enjoy most about your current work environment? What are the challenges?
I provide house calls and also have office space in a Recreation Center. While I make more money with the house calls, I can’t control the environment and that can be challenging. People often underestimate how much room I need for my table and my ergonomics suffer. Or there are stairs or barking dogs. In my own space, I have more control over the space and the noise. That being said, it is fun to mix it up and get to be in different spaces. Every day is different and that appeals to my personality.
How has being an AMTA member impacted your career?
AMTA has been a tremendous resource over the years. Early on, I sought out help with press releases and general help starting my business. If AMTA couldn’t help directly, I could always find colleagues in my area who were experiencing the same stumbling blocks I was. Later in my career, I volunteered with AMTA at the local and state levels. This proved to be a valuable learning experience and even produced some of my best friends to this day.
Why are you passionate about massage therapy and the future of the profession?
I have not had a bad day since I started my massage therapy career; bad moments, yes but not a bad day. Not many of my working friends can say that.
The future of our profession is bright and that excites me. While we experienced a few lean years with the economy, there is evidence that it is bouncing back nicely. I am on track to have a very good year and my clients seem to be returning more frequently. I also think the changes in healthcare could be good for the profession. Many people recognize it costs more money to get sick or injured and miss work versus getting regular massages to stay healthy in the first place. As the general public learns that massage therapy is part of health care, not personal care, I see a bright outlook for our profession.
View Jenn's profile on AMTA's Find a Massage Therapist locator service »