Nurse Massage Therapists

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    With research revealing the many benefits of therapeutic massage, it seems the perfect marriage, combining ones nursing background, with its emphasis on decreasing pain and educating for better patient health and outcomes, with therapeutic massage that can indeed lessen pain, increase patient well-being and provide patients with a sense of control over improving their health.

    Nurse Massage Therapists

    The world wide web is brimming with articles about nurses who have combined the two disciplines of nursing and massage therapy into a viable and complementary client-centered practice.

    It well seems to be a perfect marriage for those who are drawn into nursing initially by the desire to help decrease suffering and effect positive changes in patient health and comfort. Nurses can utilize skills of patient assessment in obtaining a history of the client's problem and in formulating a plan of care.

    Massage therapy involves therapeutic touch and manipulation of muscles and soft tissues of the body. Studies have shown therapeutic massage will effect physiologic and chemical changes in the body that can lessen pain (acute or chronic), lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety and help manage stress.

    It is a physically demanding occupation, and repetitive stress injuries may occur. As massage therapists work by appointment, they may experience a greater sense of control over their lives by being able to schedule their own work hours. Reports indicate a high rate of job satisfaction, using skills that produce positive outcomes.

    Nurse massage therapists must possess strong interpersonal communication skills, good decision-making in interviewing clients and then choosing techniques for each one's needs and tolerance, good business acumen, physical stamina and strength as well as dexterity. Some may choose to expand their area of influence and undertake teaching in schools of massage therapy.

    Massage therapists may start their career working part-time, until networking and exposure help them build a steady, word-of-mouth client base.

    Membership in professional organizations may increase ones potential for contacts, increasing the likelihood for steady work.

    Practice Setting

    The majority of massage therapists are self-employed. This is a different work environment and focus than most nurses' work environment, that of being employed by a facility (whether hospital, LTC center, outpatient clinic or office). Often, pre-conceived ideas and deeply-ingrained reluctance to marketing ones self and skills must be overcome in order to establish a clientele.

    Massage therapists can work in private offices, spas, fitness centers, some hospitals and nursing homes, businesses and even shopping malls. Some therapists perform massage in client's homes, traveling to appointments.


    There is no requirement for massage therapists to hold a previous degree or possess work experience in a related occupation.

    Standards and requirements vary by state and locality, but most require completion of an accredited training program (which includes, for example, 500 hours of study and experience) resulting in an undergraduate degree in applied sciences.


    Nurse Massage Therapists may be either licensed or board-certified. Local ordinances may require a business license as well as massage therapy license or certification. Passing a state exam is usually required for licensure, or one may apply to take one of two nationally recognized tests: the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) from the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) or the Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB).


    Average salary is $40,000-70,000 per year, depending on geographic location and hours.
    The need for massage therapists is projected to increase by 20% through 2020.


    National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork

    National Association of Nurse Massage Therapists

    Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards
    Last edit by Joe V on Feb 17, '15
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  3. by   TheBlackDogWaits
    This is an interesting read. It sounds very matter-of-fact, and the reality is that so many variables play into salary, autonomy, and overall job satisfaction.

    I've been a massage therapist for four years. In the nursing world I would be just a baby, but in the massage world I am past my half-life. The massage therapy industry, like nursing, is not all it's cracked up to be. In the same way that you will find nothing but glowing statistics on nursing state board websites and within industry associations/affilliates/etc., so it is in Massage Land, where (more often than not) common practices/pay(not salaried)/hours are a substandard affair compared to what is actually published about the field. I speculate the goals for both industries are the same: to generate interest/attention/a healthier bottom line?

    For the readers and OP, I would humbly suggest speaking to both those in the field who have had a great experience, and also those who haven't.

    I've been both blessed and shafted many times as a therapist, because unlike nursing (where the work is steady, and everyone will always need your attention), massage therapy is a seasonally sought modality, despite the therapeutic nature of the work. Even established practitioners have dry wells at certain times of the year.

    ...And that's generally how it goes: feast or famine.

    On the plus side, having a dual license did seem like the perfect balance for me, as I'm sure it does for a lot of folks who follow suit. Good luck to all.