by Lauren Muser Cates

“How do you get set up working in a hospital as a massage therapist?”.

I could fund a hospital program if I had a dollar for every time a massage therapist asked me this question. The truth is that if you want to talk seriously about how massage therapy becomes part of the paid, funded services at a hospital, there are some things you know you’ll need.

Evidence, skills and training are all important. If you don’t have them. Stay away from the hospital. You don’t belong there. However, what I want to talk with you about today is a gut check or, more important, a heart check.

Wanna know the hands down biggest mistake I see massage therapists make when they approach a hospital?..they show up entitled and arrogant. Most of us don’t even know we’re doing this. We’re so used to slogging up the hill, scrabbling hard for every little speck of positive regard we can earn that we don’t notice we’ve become a little impatient, a little bitter, a little worn out by saying the same things over and over to people “who just don’t get it”. We hear stories about big grants and the generosity of “grateful patients” and money being misspent on things that couldn’t possibly be as valuable as what we have to offer and we wear the indignity of that on our sleeves.

A successful approach is a balancing act.

Picture it. You’re a circus seal. The evidence, the skills, the experience?…they are essential! No self-respecting circus will not hire you without them, but they’re the ball on your nose and the bowling pins on your flippers. They’re just part of the show. If the platform that’s teetering on the pyramid under you is something other than love?…it won’t be cute and you will get no fish.

I was recently co-teaching at a retreat and we were discussing the concept of suffering or, more basically, how common it is to be unhappy with the way things are. One of the retreatants raised her hand and said, “So, am I just supposed to accept everything as it is and never do anything to change the situation?” One of my wise co-teachers invited her to consider Ghandi, Martin Luther King…Jesus. They didn’t accept things as they were. They lived to remind us that love is important. They worked to change the way things were by living through injustice and hatred with love. The difference is the energy with which they did the things they did. They inspired others to come in their direction by being vulnerable and open and by continuing to walk. By being patient and persistent. By suffering the slings and arrows and meeting them all with growing, enduring love.

I hope, with all of my heart, that you want to get into the hospital because you know there are people in there who need love. And I hope that you know that people who work in hospitals…yes, even administrators, actually do what they do because they know what you know…that humans deserve to be cared for with love.

I work in hospitals. Hospital-based massage therapy and training are a big part of how I make my living. It’s been a slow, organic, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other process of trust and love and commitment. You must have training. You must have experience. You must have a solid sense of ethical practice and good evidence to support the value of your inclusion…and I can (and will!) work with you to create and build all of that, but it’s absolutely useless if your spirit is not loving, curious, open and compassionate.

Please, above all else, bring all of these things with you when you make your pitch. You’ll be amazed at the possibilities that unfold.


Learn more about at the Hospital-Based Massage Therapy – Getting to “Yes” workshop with Lauren Muser Cates on December 6 & 7. CLICK HERE to register today!