As touch therapy continues to gain acceptance in all sorts of wellness venues—from rehabilitation centers and health clinics to doctors’ offices and even hospitals—massage therapists and bodyworkers will have more and more opportunities to find rewarding hands-on work. The curriculum at many massage schools has already started to reflect the trend of taking massage therapy and bodywork into a diverse range of medical settings.

However, for those massage therapists and bodyworkers who have already graduated from massage school and never had the opportunity to acquire focused knowledge and skills around the topic of medical massage, continuing education offers the perfect solution.

In fact, continuing education is also great idea even for those massage therapists who are not quite sure whether they want to take their career in the direction of medical massage. By taking one or two classes on a specific subject pertaining to medical massage, you should be able to tell whether that particular niche sparks your passion enough to make it central to your practice.

One thing is clear—if you hope to work with medical patients, you will need to have advanced skills, a well-rounded education and preferably even some hands-on experience. This is where continuing education comes in.

If possible, see if you can find a continuing education class on basic medical massage or hospital-based massage. In one of these more general continuing education classes, you should be able to learn the basics of this kind of massage therapy and bodywork, including the types of patient populations you may be working with and the necessary precautions that come with more medical forms of massage therapy and bodywork.

Once you have completed a course like this, or if you already have an idea of the way in which you hope to practice massage or bodywork in the medical setting, then you can move to more focused continuing education classes. Examples of the kinds of continuing education courses massage therapists and bodyworkers may choose to take would be those based on the patient population.

For instance, you may choose to take a continuing education class on prenatal or postpartum massage. During such a course, you should be able to tell whether this niche is the right one for you. Other examples include classes about massage and bodywork for cancer patients, palliative care patients, surgical patients, psychiatric patients, chemical dependency patients and more.

If you don’t have a specific patient population in mind, but you know you want to help medical patients feel better, try to take as many different continuing education classes as you can that pertain to medical massage and hospital massage for a variety of patient populations.

Before you enroll in one of the many continuing education classes available, attempt to do a bit of homework on the course provider, if possible. You want to make sure you’re learning from the right person—a person who has plenty of experience in the subject he or she is teaching.

–Brandi Schlossberg