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RMTs must be the little fish with the weight of a whale

Remember going through your program as a massage therapy student? To me it felt like I was a little fish in a big ocean. It involved years of intensity, no life outside of school, all those internships, examinations, testing and tons of stress – then the board examinations, more anxiety and the continuous expense. How did it feel to finally get your practise number? I was excited, relieved, somewhat overwhelmed and, not to forget the most important fact, I was finally a professional. Suddenly, I felt like the big whale.


March 1, 2016
By Dwynwyn Droppo


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We all learned what it means to be a professional. Looking at our own practice today, are we practising as professionals now? How do you know? Who assesses us? Do we get feedback from our patients or other RMTs and health-care providers? Do we just assume? Are we practising from an evidence-based and evidence-informed platform? How much do we really care about our patients? Have we built their trust in us? How have you established that therapeutic relationship with them?

Patients really appreciate being involved in their own care. When they are educated about the problem, they equally enjoy participating.

Sometimes going back and reminding ourselves of the Standards of Practise is not such a bad idea.

Clinic regulation is currently a hot topic among regulated health professionals in Ontario. A big reason this additional regulation is being proposed is because there are too many health-care professionals out there that are not practising according to what their standards of practise outline. They are not respecting the standards of other regulated professionals either. At this time, the proposal is still only a concept and without proper validation, but the individual RMT needs to pick up their game.

When we don’t practise what we are taught, the public perception and other professionals will determine our fate. When we, as RMTs, provide care to the patient that is centred on their needs, we show patients that we genuinely care about their health and well-being. We show them that their time and input is as valuable to us as our professional skills are to helping them.

Unfortunately, what seems to be happening is that some RMTs are providing care to the patient that is based on the therapist’s own insecurities. When we don’t do proper interviews, assessments, treatment planning or avoid prescribing remedial exercises, we don’t see results. This could stem from a lack of competency, skill, knowledge, critical thinking ability, confidence or just pure laziness. Either way, when we don’t practise our skills we are undermined by other professionals and by the public. We are then treated like a little solo fish again.

Identify where you need help, there is so much professional advice and so many great courses out there to help you be the professional that you are born to be.
At this time more than ever we need to go back to our roots and have the presence of a whale. We need to be recognized for our unique assessment ability, the impact we have on the health of an individual, and our value within the health-care setting.
It starts with us, the RMT. Where do you want to see this grand profession going? If we want the recognition that we deserve then we have to deliver the quality care we are trained to deliver.

We can be the little fish in the big ocean or we can swim as a school and have the presence and the splash of a whale.

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Dwynwyn Droppo is a registered massage therapist and owner of RMT-MEDIC, a massage therapy clinic based in St Catharine’s, Ont. Her practice focuses on repetitive stress and strain injuries, poor posture and poor ergonomic/habitual compensation patterns. Over the last 10 years Droppo has worked as an independent contractor for multiple clinics and taught for four years in community and private colleges in Ontario.


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