Massage is often perceived as an indulgence - a special treat for yourself. While a session at the spa can be relaxing, massage is also used in an ever-expanding number of medical procedures and settings, says Gloria Lawrence, Program Head of the Dabney Lancaster Community College Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Career Studies Certificate Program.

In addition to being beneficial for musculoskeletal issues, massage is widely used to assist cancer patients with lymphatic drainage, and has been shown to help with pain caused by opioid withdrawl.

While there are private institutions that teach massage, Lawrence says, the curriculum is available at public schools for a fraction of the cost, and can often be covered by needs-based grants.

After completing the two-semester fully-accredited program, graduates are prepared to take the MBLEx, the National Licensing Examination in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, which is administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, and is required for practice in Virginia.

Prospective enrollees must have a high school diploma or a GED, but many students are already medical professionals looking to add new skills and credentials to their resumes. Other graduates find the course prepares them for another healthcare study program. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, job opportunities in the field are expected to grow during the next decades.

The program has been offered at DLCC since 2011. Beginning with this year’s fall semester, it will be available at the Roanoke Higher Education Center.

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