Ask an RMT – Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Practice

I remember starting my practice almost 30 years ago. I had an equal mix of nervousness and excitement when it came to starting my home-based practice.

It was a different world for new RMTs then. You almost had to be self-employed because there very few other options at the time. RMTs were pretty much out there on their own and had to figure things out for themselves. There were not a lot of places to go for guidance after you graduated. While MTAM still provided networking opportunities, it was in a way, still in it's infancy and had not yet developed the wealth of resources it has now.

Despite all of the challenges of starting my own healthcare practice, I was still excited to start changing people’s lives with my 2 hands!

It’s a completely different environment now. Through a lot of hard work and advocacy, massage therapy has become a valued way for many Manitobans to support and maintain their health and well-being. People are understanding the benefits of registered massage therapy.

There are a variety of practice options available – You can be self-employed and work from home or as a mobile practitioner. You can be a contractor or employee or both! RMTs are in demand in many types of clinics and healthcare facilities.

MTAM has changed too – There is a professional office staff with practice advisors to assist you, a website with hundreds or resources, and so many educational opportunities to meet your professional development goals.

It’s easy to be excited to start your new practice and even though there may still be some butterflies, know that you’ll have all the support you could ever need from the MTAM community. Application information is available here.

To start you off we quizzed several of our members to ask them what they wish they knew earlier on in their practice. Their answers ranged from the serious to the much less serious but still useful tips.

Take a look at what they had to say.

  • Take your time! Take your time in how many clients you start seeing in your career. Build up your tolerance and stamina so that you’re less likely to injure yourself. Take your time in listening to your clients. The more you listen, the more you can create an individualized treatment plan that’s just right for your client. They will appreciate your attentiveness. Take your time in your treatments. It’s not just about the quantity of techniques you can apply, it’s about the quality.  Less can be more. And of course, be confident!  You got this!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about contracts or employment agreements before you sign them. Negotiate any terms that you would like to change, make sure you have a reasonable way to get out of the contract if you need to, and always discuss concerns with your clinic owner/boss right away. Having contract conversations as soon as possible helps keep things from becoming awkward or more difficult than they need to be.
  • Take it slow, take care of yourself. Massage Therapy can be hard on the body, practice self care.
  • You have just begun. It’s easy to become complacent and not challenge yourself. Say “Yes” to as many different educational, and work opportunities as you can. Keep learning.
  • Fresh out of massage school, it’s exciting to be filled with all this knowledge and anticipating using all of these great tools you’ve acquired, and though it’s important to learn to trust in your skills, it’s always important to listen to your client’s needs first and not be afraid to admit when you don’t have the answers. It’s okay to refer out.
  • I struggled for years to do everything in my practice on my own. If you are a self-employed/contracted RMT you are now a business owner. Owning and operating a healthcare practice is not like working in other fields. Don’t be afraid to ask for help early on if there’s anything you don’t know how to do (or don’t have time to do) with respect to the business side of your practice. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and stress in the long run.
  • Slow down and be patient with yourself. Graduation is not the end, but rather just the start of the journey. Experience, skills, knowledge, and wisdom take time.
  • Have a good look through the MTAM member portal to see what info is in there. I couldn’t believe all of the tools, documents and resources there are. Discounts, access to a legal hotline, business advice, event recordings, templates, marketing tools. I wish I had looked there sooner. It was like a one-stop shop for many of the things I was looking for.
  • A career as an RMT takes time, and patience, it is a progression.  The first 7 years of my career, I spent thinking that there was no longevity in Massage.  After I switched to MTAM I met more and more colleagues who had lengthy careers, it changed my perspective that’s for sure.
  • Shiny new tools and techniques are great and may get patients in the door the first time, but nothing will keep them coming back like your exceptional understanding of the basics - anatomy, physiology, palpation skills, top-notch communication and listening skills. Your patients will trust you and thank you for your professionalism and they will refer you to their family and friends.
  • I ruined several of my regular shirts with lotion stains before keeping a select group of shirts as my Monday – Friday clinic shirts. Saves me time getting ready for work in the morning and saves me from potentially wrecking my entire wardrobe!
  • If there are parts of your job you don’t like doing (laundry, bookkeeping, payroll, etc.) hire someone to do them for you. It will cost you less in the long run and free you up to see more clients and do the thing you love most – giving clients the best massage you can!
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