#21 of 30in30: Massage therapists are in demand

The Homestead


When Dabney S. Lancaster Community College was considering eliminating its massage therapy program a few years ago, they got an impassioned plea.

The Homestead Resort and Spa begged the college not to cut off its source of licensed professionals needed at the luxury resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.

They asked, “What can we do to make sure you keep this program?” recalls Gary Keener, director of continuing education and workforce services at Dabney. So the resort now partners with the community college, helping provide funds for a full-time massage therapy instructor. “It helps their bottom line,” Keener says.

Massage Therapy

Dabney massage therapy students attend a health care fair at a nearby university

What is it?

One of the oldest healing arts, massage therapy allows licensed practitioners to work with patients in health care settings, spas and resorts, and clinics, using massage to reduce stress, tension and pain; increase circulation; and increase flexibility and mobility. In Virginia, licensure is required for massage therapy certification and is regulated through the Virginia Board of Nursing.

Where is it offered?

DSLCC offers an 18-credit-hour career studies program, and a longer 32-hour certificate in Massage Therapy. Both programs prepare students for the National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Patrick Henry also offers a certificate; a career studies option or courses are available at several colleges including Northern Virginia, Southside, and Virginia Western.

Who does it help?

Massage therapists with national certification can work in a variety of health care, business, and recreational settings such as spas, hospitals, corporations, doctors’ offices and chiropractic clinics, sports and fitness facilities, beauty and skin care salons and personal wellness agencies.

Students in the program are introduced to massage therapy in many settings – one recent field trip at Dabney included traveling to Virginia Military Institute to give sports massages to cadets!

What does the future hold?

Across the commonwealth, businesses and industries are partnering with community colleges to ensure the workforce they need will continue to be available.  Increasingly, the health care and hospitality industries, in particular, are counting on Virginia’s Community Colleges to train the professionals they need to employ.

Editor’s Note: 30 Ways in 30 Days Virginia’s Community Colleges are Elevating Virginia is a month-long blog series dedicated to exploring some of the many creative and inspiring ways our colleges are helping people find and create opportunity. The series is part of the VCCS tribute to National Community College Month. To read more of the series just click on the “30 ways in 30 days” category.

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