Our Person of the Month for this issue of JMS is Tammy Roecker, LMT, CMBE. Tammy is an exceptional therapist and educator who aims to change entry-level massage education by injecting science into the massage curriculum and offering scientifically-based continuing education classes.
To do that, Tammy founded the Arizona School of Medical Massage and Wellness (ASMMW) with an excellent curriculum that reflects recent scientific and clinical data. The fascinating part is that the Arizona Medical Board approved her school as a source of Medical Massage education. ASMMW is the first MT School that got official approval from State Medical Board!
If, you have a friend or relative interested in a career in massage therapy and would like them to start with the proper education, consider recommending ASMMW as an excellent source of professional education.
Here is our interview with Tammy Roecker.
Tammy Roecker, LMT
JMS: How did you become interested in Massage Therapy?
T. Roecker: I used to suffer from both low-back pain and debilitating migraines. Back in 1991, I was working for America West Airlines (making $9.90/hr.), and one day, I saw a flyer in the break room for a massage therapist coworker, and I decided to try it. I thought it was something that people did to relax and pamper themselves, but I was very blessed to have my first massage by a very experienced and knowledgeable therapist who had been doing medical massage for 25 years. That was it! One session and my long-standing pain was gone, and I’ve never had another migraine since! I had no idea I could feel so good and pain-free, and I thought, “How great would it feel to be able to do that job and make other people feel the same way?” It must be gratifying!
I asked him to teach me. There was no Massage Therapy State Board back then, and I took a handful of lessons from him until I realized I really needed to understand anatomy better. So I enrolled at Phoenix Therapeutic Massage College. I am going on for 32 years and am even more passionate about the field now!
JMS: And after years of being a successful therapist, you decided to enter the field of MT education?
T. Roecker: After working in the field, I felt the need to share my clinical expertise and experience with other therapists. I decided to become an approved provider of continuing education for other licensed therapists, and I really enjoy this work! I taught for 16 years before starting my entry-level medical massage school.
JMS: Arizona Medical Board approved your MT school as an educational source for Medical Massage. We believe that your school is the first in the nation to get such approval. Please share with our readers the details of your fascinating journey.
T. Roecker: During the Covid pandemic, everything changed. Under the quarantine, I couldn’t touch anybody, and since the State Board had changed the continuing education requirement, I couldn’t teach my CE classes either. I got a real estate license if I couldn’t do this profession anymore. But I soon realized I needed to be in this field because there is a significant shortage of therapists specializing in medical massage who can help people with various pathologies, pain, and injuries.
I had always had a dream to open up a Massage School, but now I was really considering moving forward with the idea. However, I wanted it to be different. So I began interviewing many industry leaders and those who wrote anatomy and physiology textbooks to create my own curriculum. It took me about a year to get organized with lesson plans and develop the 700 hours of medical massage and wellness program.
The School Board of Private Post-Secondary Education denied my initial application because the word “medical” was part of the school name. The only solution offered to me was to get approval from BOTH AZ Medical Board and AZ Massage Board to have the word “medical” in the school name. I prepared my very detailed presentation and pled my case before both boards. After about a 20-minute discussion, I was informed that both the Medical and Massage Boards approved my application and granted us a license! This story convinced me that times are changing and Medical Massage is getting more and more recognition, even from medical boards.
JMS: Please tell our readers about the Arizona School of Medical Massage & Wellness and its goals.
T. Roecker: Besides providing up-to-date massage education, I hope to work with specialty groups, allowing my students to care for those in need while getting in the hours of bodywork needed to graduate. There are many fields where research in the clinical application of Massage Therapy can be done through the MT schools, so I’m hoping our school will eventually host and participate in these studies.
JMS: What is your favorite type of bodywork?
T. Roecker: It’s tough to say; I really love it all! Sometimes people ask me, “Do you do myofascial work?” And I’d say yes if myofascial work is what’s needed. Or, “ Do you do neuromuscular work?” Yes, when neuromuscular work is needed. I love working with pre and perinatal clients, geriatrics, sports, MLD, infants, and pediatrics; I love manual therapy, cupping, taping and IASTM, PNF, and even stress reduction massage. There are so many potent modalities out there!
JMS: What is your advice to other therapists?
T. Roecker: I watch approximately 2 hours of CE videos daily and read many journals about massage. Continuing education and staying current will keep you in practice for a long time because you will never get burned out when growing. Also, learn proper body mechanics, which is the foundation for your long and prolific career. Live workshops are the best; networking, learning, and building relationships in the massage community are so fun! And you get paid, too!
JMS: Thank you, and great success to your School!
Category: Person of the Month
Tags: 2023 Issue #2