The Therapist is not a Masahista

Posted by Abdel Kadz on Sunday, March 16, 2008 with 4 comments
"Um, I hope you don't mind, but I need you to massage somebody here in the office to see how hard or soft the pressure is... blah, blah, blah." These were the words said to me last Friday by an interviewer for a PT job in Dubai. Her perception of us PTs here in the Philippines is the same with, unfortunately, countless others: We're just massage therapists, dignified masahistas. To say "We get this a lot" is an understatement. Even one time when I went to get some money transfer, and after giving my professional license as identification, this girl behind the desk said the same thing: Pede po bang pahilot?

Physical therapy encompasses more than just massage. In fact, the discussion on that topic took about just a few hours in PT school. We've studied the brain, the spinal cord, bones, muscles, tackled various neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory, pediatric and musculoskeletal conditions resulting in the physical impairment or disability of a patient, and yet we're just labeled masahistas. We develop rehabilitation programs, used PT modalities to fast-track the patient's recuperation and subsequently meet his short- and long-term goals, and yet people expect us to carry a bottle of powder, lotion, and/or liniment in our nice, little massage kit, ready to perform effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, and what-have-yous from head to foot. We spent four years in school, another year in reputable hospitals in the Philippines as part of our clinical internship, and yet we're made akin with massage therapists who got theirs from a 6-month, at times 3, certificate course.

Not that I have anything against masseuses or masseurs or in anyway belittling their profession; theirs is a dignified job, too, like many others. But we've just had enough of this misconception and labeling that an educational dissemination about the nitty-gritty of PT and our roles as members of the allied medical profession is called for. I know that changing the mindset of most is a Herculean task and cannot be done overnight, yet I hope that gradually we'll be headed in the right direction, moving forward, and this entry wishes to serve just that in its own little way.

And the interview? It turned out to be not the one I was expecting. Firstly, the job is for a private PT, although everything will be paid for. I had doubts when this was discussed. I preferably wanted to be employed in a hospital or a rehab clinic setting; it'll look better on my CV. Secondly, that massage hands-on to prove my skill set was way overboard, and it was enough reason for me to back out of it, especially when the person to be massaged was that big, sweaty guy from their office who said, "Pano yan di masakit ang katawan ko? Gym muna ako para sumakit."

Why did I even bother going?
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