To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Expert Advice,” by Carole Osborne, in the December 2012 issue. Article summary: Carole Osborne responds to the question, “How can I turn my required continuing education into a long-term investment in my career?”

by Carole Osborne

When discriminating therapists look for top-tier continuing education experiences, they will find primarily male faces in the full-page ads in professional publications. But how can it be that in a profession more than 80-percent female, so few women climb the ladder to achieve national notice and name recognition as teachers of their craft?

I often wonder what discourages female educators from developing extensive programs and multiple, convenient locations for therapists to choose from—and whether it is a matter of advertising dollars or if there is some confluence of psychological, societal, cultural and economic factors creating a real disparity.

What most concerns me about women not having enough female continuing education provider choices is the possible effect on career longevity. Considering the long-term effect of our instructors as role models, I wonder if female massage therapists might have longer, more profitable practices if they learned from female instructors.

Sometimes, the more like you a role model or teacher is, the better. For example, I am female, smaller in frame than most, and I enjoy having avoided work-related injuries during decades of deep-tissue and side-lying work. Learning the body mechanics behind this, continuing health and strength could be good insurance for a long, injury-free career for female therapists.

A colleague whose stellar continuing education program focuses on kinesiology and sports massage has multiple Olympic Games and professional athletic experiences to inspire and guide her students in similar achievements.

How female continuing education providers organize our personal and family lives, evolve our practices, choose employers and employees, and collaborate in work environments can be just the examples other women therapists might need for their success, both short- and long-term. Women’s stories of preventing burnout and developing mastery may be more relevant and replicable for women; for men, they could offer a different perspective.

I am not suggesting one must study only with same gender teachers to get a good education. I have had pivotal, career-defining training with male teachers. What I wonder is, would we increase the number of massage therapists who make it past their first few years if they had more benefit of women’s wisdom to inform and inspire them?

Carole Osborne is a widely sought continuing education provider (www.bodytherapyassociates.com) and 2008 American Massage Therapy Association National Teacher of the Year. She has a practice focused on facilitating somato-emotional integration, particularly related to childbearing, trauma and nurturing. She wrote Pre- and Perinatal Massage Therapy, Second Edition, and Deep Tissue Sculpting, Second Edition, and is a contributing author to Teaching Massage Therapy.

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