Fernando Vazquez has a great story of personal success in the massage therapy profession. He is a very successful and thinking medical massage practitioner who represents the new generation of practitioners who base their practice on medical science. At the same time, he is Director of the Massage Therapy program at Everest College. Such combination of clinical and teaching experiences and mastership of both fields make Fernando a unique figure in this profession. His love and expertise for massage therapy is founded on a solid professional education and constant self-improvement. Even the fact that he fluently speaks four languages illustrates Fernando’s extraordinary intellectual prowess.
Here is our interview with
SUCCESSFUL EDUCATOR AND MEDICAL MASSAGE PRACTITIONER
JMS: How did you get into the field of massage therapy?
F. Vazquez: I got into the field of massage therapy because of my early years when I was playing professional soccer, I would receive massages before game time. This interested me and gave me some exposure to the massage world. However, I did not follow the path that others who dream of becoming a massage therapist follow. My father wanted me to become an engineer so I graduated with an engineering degree but I still did not feel that my purpose was fulfilled. I was involved in physical fitness at the time and came to the United States to learn new concepts for physical fitness. Even though I had personal training experience, I had to start from the beginning. My first class was in San Diego, Calif., where I completed my first 100 hours as a massage therapist in this country. I continued my education in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, Calif., where I also completed my degree as a Physical Therapy Aide. I followed that with a specialization in Oncology and many other CEU hours for a total of more than 1,000 hours of education. After that, I spent many years studying in order to reach the position I am in today.
JMS: Your school is among the few that has successfully incorporated the medical massage concept into the basic massage training program. From your experience, what benefits does this training provide your students, especially for work opportunities?
F. Vazquez: As you know, the field is competitive and having a well-rounded educational knowledge as well as experience in many different bodyworks opens up greater opportunities. The medical massage concept and massage for healing is growing steadily, and there will be more and more opportunities for students with this background. Insurance companies are covering medical massage, which is creating more jobs for massage therapists with medical massage training.
Due to the incorporation of Medical Massage principles into our basic massage therapy training program, 97% of our students find jobs immediately after graduation. More than 80% of them work with doctors and 20% in spas. Taking into consideration the economic situation, these results reflect substantial success, and we at Everest College in Reseda, California are convinced that it is due to our medical massage philosophy.
JMS: You have developed a successful massage practice and cooperate with the local medical community. How do other health practitioners view the clinical value of massage therapy you offer to patients?
F. Vazquez: Initially it was not easy since doctors were not aware of how much knowledge we have in the medical field. However, with patience and dedication, we started educating them on what we do and proving that we can work together as a team. Now, three years into the program, we now have patients from the hospital asking to book their cancer treatments based on our schedule at the hospital. The practitioners changed their views completely, and now accept that we are part of the team. The doctors now look at us as therapists and not “masseurs.”
JMS: There is great confusion regarding medical massage therapy and there is no clear definition of this important concept. One of the common examples is the notion that the practice of massage in the hospital automatically qualifies it as medical massage. How would you define medical massage and its place in the massage therapy profession and modern medicine?
F. Vazquez: Medical massage to me is a complementary treatment to traditional medicine. It provides relief for a certain amount of time just as a pill or liquid would do. As we have many testimonies now, working closely with doctors has become a reality. Because we have a better knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, we are today working as a team in the hospital. However, it is not because you work as a massage therapist in a hospital that makes you a medical massage therapist. You need additional education and hours in a medical facility before you can give yourself that title.
JMS: Do you have a favorite type of bodywork?
F. Vazquez: There are many types that I enjoy teaching and performing. If I had to narrow it down, I would have to say sports massage and oncology massage are my personal favorites. I believe it is because I can relate to the feeling and benefits an athlete gets from massage that makes me enjoy this type of bodywork. I know that it is not only going to help them, but make them perform better than they would if they had not received the massage. It is another way that I can help the athletic world and contribute to it since I am not a professional athlete anymore. Oncology massage has become one of my favorite bodyworks due to my work at the Northridge Hospital Medical Center, Reseda, California. The acknowledgement from patients and growing acceptance from medical professionals has been extremely satisfying.
JMS: What professional advice you have for our readers?
F. Vazquez: Never give up your dreams. Education, knowledge, humility and respect are my basic concepts and my advice for anyone.
Category: Person of the Month