HAC Faculty Member, Oscar Barquero: Student Clinic Through An Instructor's Eyes.
Today is student clinic. I arrive early in order to have things prepared, set, and ready to go. There are many details to consider to ensure a successful clinic: the student roster, the client line-up, and will everyone show up! But first, I light a half stick of sandalwood incense, turn on some music, plug in my grounding mat, grab the ball chair, and log in.
As I pull the clinic files, I realize that we have many clients well into their 60’s and 70’s, which is fantastic. We also have many, many regulars who enjoy using massage therapy as part of their self-care plan. Some of our clients include: retired folks, nannies, managers, nurses, teachers, moms and dads, office workers, construction workers, and even some younger clients in high school or right out of college. I review the intake forms looking for and noting any special needs, specific injuries or recent surgeries, and any other health issues or concerns. Their most recent visits are reviewed by looking at the SOAP notes to see why they came in, what was performed during their session, and which student worked with each client.
Typically, each student will give two fifty minute massages per clinic. This could change if a client is receiving a ninety minute session, which allows the student an excellent opportunity to have more time with the client. Sometimes students test their stamina when they work with three clients or when they give back to back massages. I may place students with new clients who will be receiving massage for the first time, giving students a chance to practice how to describe what to expect during a massage to someone new. This is great practice! Others may have the opportunity to follow up a session and work with a client they worked with in the past. And some students may find themselves working with a male or female for the first time. Many different scenarios are possible in student clinic.
Students get to work in student clinic after completing Level I which includes ten weeks of Anatomy and Physiology with Dr. Dan Rovin, once a week, and Technique Class, twice a week, with Kyle Riebeling or myself. Upon successful completion of Level I, each student has a general understanding of our amazing bodies and how to give a full body Swedish massage. For the remaining forty weeks of the massage therapy program, students get to work on the public, putting to use their tools from Level I, Advance Techniques with Tom Tessereau, our Headmaster, and Myofascial Release with Bert Davich. For a select group of students in their fourth or fifth levels, they are extended an invitation and get the honor of working in our Cancer Clinic with Terrie Yardley-Nohr.
Each clinic has its own dynamic. A clinic could have all first time clinic students, or maybe one or two students could be new. Most have a variety of students in all different levels of the program, and even soon to be graduates! Whatever the make-up, I strive to create a team with the students in each clinic. This group will be together for the entire session, every other week for ten weeks. If students need assistance getting ready to give massage and to be present, we may go through a grounding exercise, or do the daily energy routine or the breathing exercises. We also work on greeting our clients, asking questions, and listening. If questions come up during the session for the student, we get the chance to talk about them after the massage. We work on body mechanics, table heights, draping, breathing, techniques, and the “dance” that is massage.
When finished, students write out their SOAP notes for the massage. They get to practice their short hand, spelling of muscles, recalling the tools they used, and where they applied them. I review each SOAP note and we talk about what may have come up during the session. Since instructors enter the room twice during each massage for observation, students can receive feedback on their techniques, body mechanics, draping, and breathing and so on. They also get feedback from each client, which I read first and then give them to the students after all notes and thoughts and questions are shared. Almost all of the clients leave feeling better, looking lighter in their faces, and some even look taller!
This is just an awesome sight to see. But it does bring up a question. “Where does that anxiety, stress, tension and discomfort go?” The last part of the session is clean up. Students clean the room and get it ready for the next massage, and then there is clean up of ourselves. I encourage and recommend to all students to clean up with their Pranic Healing Self Care, taught in Level I with Tom, our Headmaster. This part is crucial for good health and longevity, and students are reporting feeling better, lighter, and less tired. Now they are ready for their next massage!
Well, I am now ready for student clinic to begin. The client line up is set. We have a full clinic with a couple of new clients, and we also have one new Level I student coming in to receive their complimentary massage. Each Level I student has to receive a massage in the student clinic. This is a required assignment for each student. It gives them the opportunity to experience a massage and what to expect in the student clinic, since they will be working in here for the remainder of the program. I have placed a soon to be graduate with them. They are in for a treat. And just like clockwork, the students start to arrive!
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