To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Communicate with Nurses for Medical Massage Success.” by Christine Bailor, R.N., in the November 2011 issue. Article summary: Nurses and massage therapists are allies in the care of patients in a hospital setting, and with appropriate communication can assist each other in the workplace. Communication and respect are key components to achieving a positive outcome. Nurses and massage therapists can certainly complement each other in many ways. While nurses are part of the direct medical care of the patient, the massage therapist has the ability to step in and be a support for both the patient and nurse.

by Christine Bailor, R.N.

It is important for the massage therapist to be aware of the medical issues each patient experiences. Contraindications to massage, symptoms of a particular disease entity, medications a patient may be on that preclude certain applications—these are all part of the knowledge the therapist needs to arm himself with.

Medical facility units are fast-paced places to work. The staff is busy, and the patients are ill and have many needs. The massage therapist needs to be aware of how his presence impacts patient care and what his role is.

If you are considering medical massage, you must be able to answer these questions for yourself:

• What is the diagnosis, or diagnoses, for this patient?

• What is happening with the patient and what can I expect?

• What should I be watching out for, in terms of signs and symptoms?

• What medications is this patient taking, and why?

• What are the possible drug interactions I need to be aware of?

• How do I best work with the equipment this patient is utilizing? What does this equipment do?

• What is going on with the patient today? Is there a way to assist with the symptoms she may be having?

• Did I get a patient report from the nursing staff?

• Did I give a full report to the nursing staff?

These are just some of the questions a therapist will encounter. Every situation offers its own set of questions and opportunities to learn and provide quality care.

Christine Bailor, R.N., L.M.T., C.S.I., C.I.P.I., is the owner of The Body Essential, with her office located in Williamsville, New York. She has been working full time as a massage therapist since 2000, when she placed her full-time nursing career aside to pursue another healing art. She is a registered professional nurse and a licensed massage therapist. She graduated from Sisters’ Hospital School of Nursing in 1985, and the New York Institute of Massage in 1999. She is secretary for the American Holistic Nurses Association (www.ahna.org).

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