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WSCC expands massage program curriculum

Photo provided Washington State Community College Massage Therapy student Morgan Kolbe practices her technique on another student in a massage therapy classroom at WSCC in Marietta.

The Massage Therapy program at Washington State Community College is expanding its curriculum to provide focus on therapeutic techniques in response to the healthcare field’s increasing recognition of massage as a valuable treatment for medical issues.

The employment prospects for massage therapists have been on a growing trend for many years. While its initial success was related to the increased numbers of spas and people seeking relaxation, the growth in the profession continues to climb as hospitals, rehabilitation and acute care facilities, as well as physicians’ offices expand their services to include massage.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 20.6 percent employment growth for massage therapists between 2019 and 2029.

Jacqulyn Krider, director of WSCC’s Massage Therapy program, explained that the most valuable shift to recognize a massage as a therapeutic service came when more insurance companies began to cover the cost of the services. The change in coverage was the result of wellness providers recommending massage therapy services as a complement to their treatment plans.

Among the many benefits of a massage, Krider said patients can experience pain relief, reduced stress, and muscle relaxation. She also added that massage has proven to be highly successful in treating lung and respiratory issues, including COVID-19.

“Many people don’t realize how diverse our services are,” said Krider. “Beyond relaxation and pain relief, we can apply techniques that loosen mucus in the lungs and improve breathing significantly. We can also treat specific conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, MS, and even provide post-surgical support.”

Krider said the program has transitioned to intensify its focus on medical-based treatment strategies, due to a shift in employment demand. She said she is working to develop partnerships with local healthcare facilities to provide greater opportunities for her graduates.

“Our priority is to prepare our graduates for the workforce and when we saw the job market changing, we responded,” said Krider. “I’m excited about where this program is going with this transition.”

In addition to incorporating therapeutic massage strategies, the program is utilizing new software technology that lets students provide more advanced treatment documentation, makes the paperwork process more fluent, and provides a means of online booking for clinical practice, which, Krider explained, provides the opportunity to extend its reach into the community.

WSCC’s Massage Therapy program will begin accepting applications for Fall 2022 on November 1. Admission to the program is limited and is made on a first-come, first-serve basis. For additional information, contact Jacqulyn Krider at (740) 374-8716 ext. 1697 or visit wscc.edu/massage.

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