HARRIMAN, Tenn. — Roane State Community College’s Gary Genna, who directs the college’s one-year certificate program in massage therapy, said that in his 28 years of providing massage therapy instruction, he has never had as “wonderful of a teaching situation” as he does now.
This fall, the college opened its new Goff Health Sciences and Technology Building at its Oak Ridge campus, which includes a state-of-the-art space for massage therapy students. The massage therapy lab has 10 Comfort Craft model 800 tables. The tables represent the latest technology in massage therapy and feature height and angle adjustability, options that allow therapists to stand comfortably and to more easily work tissue.
“This is like handing students Maseratis,” Genna said.
Mirrors around the lab allow students to observe their technique while they work. The lab also includes locker rooms and bathrooms, important touches for working students who need to change clothes before they leave class for their jobs or come to class from their jobs.
“It’s one of a kind,” Genna said. “It takes what was already a strong curriculum and puts our program in very rarified air. There are no programs that have these tables, that have this kind of facility. We are close to being one of a kind.”
In addition to instruction in a state-of-the-art laboratory, Genna’s program provides real-world experience. Students run a clinic on Fridays for community members, which helps students practice customer service and business skills. Genna also places students in fieldwork internships in hospitals, sports clinics, and additional medical settings.
“The beauty is when they go out into the field to find jobs, they have already done the job as real as possible,” Genna said. “They have had to greet the public and collect money. They have experienced everything you are going to experience in a clinic.”
The program’s most recent job placement rate was 100 percent, and Genna said 89 percent of his students pass their licensure exam on their first attempt. Additionally, students have most of their licensing fees paid for thanks to donations from the college’s Massage Therapy Club.
By taking a few additional courses, massage therapy students can also earn an associate degree in allied health sciences. The program offers students a study abroad program in Peru, as well.
“I’m incredibly proud of the facility and so blessed Roane State was willing to put these kinds of resources into our program,” Genna said.