1. Tell us a bit more about you and your practice as it is today? i.e. are you a solo practitioner or a business owner? If solo, what kind of an establishment do you work for, how large is it, what is the clientele like, what is the specialty offered? If it is a business that you own, kindly include the same time of relevant information that will give the reader a good idea about your establishment/practice. Please also include where you live and work?
My name is Kiera Nagle, MA, LMT. I am a NYS licensed and National Board Certified Massage Therapist. I am the Assistant Dean at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM)-NY and also hold an adjunct faculty appointment in the Health, Phys Ed, and Dance Department at Queensborough Community College, part of the City University of New York.
My private practice focuses mainly on female clientele in the childbearing years, in NYC. I am also the creator of MaMassage™ Prenatal Massage Therapy training for licensed massage therapists, a course that is NYS and NCBTMB approved for CE hours.
2. Tell us why you chose to go into massage and at what point in your life did you decide to do so? What were you doing at the time? Where did you first hear about the massage career? What factors influenced your decision? What were you looking to get out of this decision?
I am a former NYC Public High School art teacher. I had been teaching for several years when I decided to go back to school to learn massage therapy. I was interested in the healing arts and in doing work on a more one-on-one basis with people. I also wanted more flexibility in my life and the ability to work for myself.
3. What were some of your questions and concerns before further pursuing your massage therapy goals? Talk about concerns with school and the profession itself.
I was concerned about going to school while having a full time job. I decided to go part time to make it more manageable for myself to do both. I was excited about the field and the advances in research to support the efficacy of massage. I liked working with the body and learning about important stress-relieving practices for health and wellness.
4. What is your specialty and what are the top three contributing factors to your success today?
My specialty area is prenatal massage. The first factor that contributed to my success was being able to identify while I was still in school what population I wanted to focus on, and I pursued special training in that area immediately upon graduation.
This, in addition to my steady professional life prior to my career change, positioned me optionally for the second factor, which was my placement in an integrative setting for massage as one of my first jobs. This job at UNMC, in the Olson Center for Women’s Health, allowed me to perform massage in a hospital setting and build my private practice with a focused clientele.
The third factor in my success would be my versatility. When I moved from Nebraska back to my native NYC, I was able to adapt quickly to create continuity in my massage career and as a massage educator.
5.What do you like about your specialty? What do you like about what you do in general as a career? Why?
I really love working with women, especially in pregnancy. I enjoy working with pregnancy because it is a period of such rapid and profound change in the body, and there are so many benefits of massage for both the mother and the baby.
Sometimes as women, we have to train ourselves to take better care of ourselves, since often we are expected to take care of others. I like being part of the process of a woman learning to take some time to take care of herself, which impacts not only her own health, but the health and well being of those she is closest to.
6. What do you not like about what you do? Why?
I wouldn’t say there is anything I don’t like. Sometimes it is challenging to work with difficult and demanding people, especially with respect to boundaries. But I believe this challenge exists in every field and is an opportunity for us as professionals to respond with compassion and maintain good boundaries ourselves.
7. If there were three things you could change about your work or the industry as a whole what would they be? Why would you change them? What would you change them to?
A) I would love to contribute to a greater awareness in our culture of the benefits of massage.
B) I would love to be part of a cultural shift towards wellness practices and preventative medicine rather than reactive responses to pathologies that build to a pinnacle over time. It would be amazing if part of this shift was the future inclusion of massage as a benefit covered by health insurance.
C) It would be great if those who hire MT’s could have a true understanding of what the profession entails so that MT’s can work in healthy environments. I believe I am a catalyst for change in these areas by educating a generation of current and future MT’s.
8. How long do you plan to practice and what do you plan to do after?
I would like to practice and teach well into my grandma years. I would like to write a book or two, but may not have time until I retire!
9. Do you currently have another job or business whether full time or part time? Tell us a bit more about it and how you are able to juggle that with your massage career?
I like having a variety of types of work that allow me opportunities to draw on my different skill sets. Each area of my working life creates balance for me as a whole and experiences in each contribute to the development of the other.
For example, I draw from my experiences in clinical practice with clients in order to effectively teach students. In the classroom, the experience of teaching often renews an aspect of my clinical practice.
10. What are some mistakes you made in your career pursuit that you’d like to warn other students about so they can learn from your experience and avoid it?
There wasn’t one particular incident that I can recall, but I do know that it has taken many experiences for me to develop and hone my communication skills. I do teach students how important clear therapeutic and client-centered communication is, because I believe that miscommunication can negatively impact relationships between professionals and between therapists and their clients. If communication, written and verbal, is a challenge for you, then in addition to massage training you may want to take a course in effective communication.
11. What would you advice someone who is looking at massage therapy schools? What do you recommend they look for and how? How do you recommend they determine whether the school is the right one for them?
First, it is important to do research to make sure that the school is accredited and/or meets the requirements for licensure or certification in your state.
Secondly, it is important to visit the school to get a feel for the environment, the faculty, and the philosophy of the school, to make sure it is in line with your vision for learning.
Thirdly, it’s best to look at logistical factors such as the location and the schedule to make certain that it will meet your needs and not create unnecessary stress on you.
Lastly, you need to do self-inventory to ascertain whether the time is truly right for you. If all is in place, and you are truly motivated, you will make everything work for your success.
12. What do you recommend for someone who wants to go to massage school but cannot afford it?
Perhaps researching the loans and grants that are available to you if you are part of a special population. Another consideration might be to pursue a shorter, more affordable training in a related health field that will give you ‘employability‘ so that you can then afford to put yourself through massage school.
13. What are your three biggest points of advice for an aspiring massage therapist today? What should they do/not do? What should they think about and consider?
A) Practice great communication.
B) Practice “presencing” with your clients and others in your life.
C) Accept yourself and learn from your mistakes.
14. Any open thoughts / comments – anything else that you’d like to share about yourself, the massage industry, profession, future, etc? If nothing, make one prediction for the future of massage?
My future vision/prediction is that massage will be more commonly accepted and no longer viewed as a luxury, but rather a wellness practice in which many people partake to reduce the effects of stress on their bodies, minds and spirits.
15. What is your passion outside of massage? What are your hobbies and interests which you pursue when you are not working? Tell us why you enjoy what you enjoy.
My role as a mother has really helped me grow as a person. I am happy to spend time with my son and see the world through his eyes.
My first identity has always been as an artist. I continue to create art and write a monthly blog. I also perform wedding ceremonies as a NYS officiant, which is just so much fun. I like to have a diversity of people and activities in my life, and to help people as much as I am able.
Kiera Nagle is a MA, LMT and Assistant Dean at PCOM-NY. You can find her on her website here and here.
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