The staff and students of the Massage Therapy program at the Community College of Baltimore County hosted an open house on March 13th at the Essex campus in order to showcase the many opportunities offered by a degree or certificate in the field.
First-time students, those already established nurses or physicians and those seeking experience regarding the benefits a skillfully applied massage can afford were among those invited to attend, with opportunities -and refreshments – extended to each.
Accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation, Massage Therapy at CCBC is a small but growing program with approximately 20 current students according to Program Director Cher Hunter. Both an Associate of Applied Science degree, requiring four semesters of both classroom activities and clinical studies, and a certificate with concentrations outside of general studies are currently offered.
Massage Therapy students, clad in an identifying dark blue polo, waited to greet prospective program applicants and clients, each accompanied by a smile and a massage chair in which those interested could relax and receive a free chair massage.
The Connection arrived a few minutes before the event’s guests began to, and was able to speak briefly with Ms. Hunter as well as a few students about what prospective applicants can expect from the program.
“It’s challenging, and it’s rigorous. It encompasses a lot more than I thought,” said Chandra Travers, a first semester therapy student describing the course load she’s encountered thus far. “I want to pair this with nursing eventually, and I think it’s really complimentary.”
Ms. Hunter was able to affirm the program’s appeal to medical professionals seeking to broaden their skill sets. “We’ve had people with bachelor’s degrees, and masters and doctorates who come back and get the degree in massage therapy.”
The program requires students take a specific anatomy and physiology class concerning specific muscle groups of interest as well as an entry level massage course. After students pay a $20 fee and apply after completing these courses, they are considered for admission.
Kristy Kessler, a current student who already has a bachelor’s in nursing and is pursuing a certificate, shared what a second semester student should expect. “We do deep tissue massage in the second semester. If you’re full time you take pathology and a movement course as well. The teachers are excellent. They’ve got a lot of experience.”
“What makes our program unique is that it is a college based program, so regardless of whether [students] are getting the certificate or the associate degree they are gaining college credits,” continued Ms. Hunter. “When [students] get that degree… years down the road, in many cases it makes for an easier transfer.”
CCBC also offers open clinics, hosted in Room 324 in the J Building on the Essex Campus. A one-hour table massage, performed by students in individual cubicles, cost $35 with proceeds funding graduates’ exam costs.
“They’re really amazing,” said Ms. Hunter, of her students’ performance at these clinics. “The first semester… the level of work they’re doing is quite remarkable. Sometimes I’ll go on vacation and get a massage that’s not as good as a massage as some of our students who have only been here six months.”
Most students opt for the degree, at which point they are eligible to take the exams to become a Licensed Massage Therapist, able to work in health care settings. Those who opt for the certificate can become Registered Massage Practitioners and are only cleared to work in business settings.
The State of Maryland requires licensed therapists to pass the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork exam or the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine exam, as well as a Maryland state massage therapy exam, according to CCBC’s online catalog.
Ms. Hunter related that her students had achieved extremely high success rates for these exams. ” We have a one hundred percent first-time pass rate for the national certification exam over the last two years. The state average is between 57 and 63 percent.”
Students who wish to continue their education after receiving their A.A.S. can take advantage of an articulation agreement CCBC shares with Towson University. Students can transfer 60 hours directly into a bachelor’s degree in Health Technology, should they choose to transfer.
John Sokolis was the Managing Editor of the CCBC Connection 2010-2011, Essex Bureau.
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