By ALYSSA RAMER
Pairs of students dot a room filled with massage tables. One massages as the other relaxes on a table. The students massaging gently push their hands into their partner’s lower back.
The students were practicing an athletic massage, which is a shorter massage than the 50-minute option normally offered at Pima Community College’s Northwest Campus in the updated Therapeutic Massage Program.
The program is available as an associate of applied science. Graduates are entitled to apply for a massage license in Arizona.
Pima’s therapeutic massage program was created 10 years ago as an “innovative credit” program. It is now fully accredited and funded by the college.
Janet Vizard is full-time lead faculty for the program. She studied at the University of Maryland, acquiring a bachelor’s of science degree and a master’s in physical education.
Vizard also earned a certificate from Potomac Massage Training Institute in Washington D.C. in 1993. She has worked across the eastern United States and received an Arizona massage therapy license in 2004. She has been teaching massage therapy at Pima since 2005.
“It is the most challenging and rewarding experience I have had, and I love it,” she said.
Students can give massages to anyone after they have taken their “foundation” classes.
Stephanie Wenneborg plans to finish the program in a year and a half, as part of an accelerated program with 46 credit hours.
“If you can maintain the required ‘C’ average, keep up with the brilliant instructors and overcome any initial fears you may have providing therapeutic touch to strangers in need, then there is no massage school in Tucson more respected than Pima’s,” she said.
Wenneborg wants to pursue athletic massage out of a desire to take care of athletes when they get hurt and to help them avoid injury. This summer, she will intern with the athletic training center at the University of Arizona.
Tara Peck, another massage student, is graduating in the summer. “I have wanted to pursue massage since my senior year in high school,” she said. The program, she added, is fast paced.
The program curriculum includes classes in business, ethics, kinesiology and pathology – as well as therapeutic-massage experience in a clinic setting.
One benefit of the intense program is that it gives students 940 hours of classroom contact and hands-on practice – compared to the 750 hours provided at other schools in Arizona.
“The additional hours mean that if students move to another state requiring more than 750 hours, they have already completed enough hours to qualify for licensure there,” Vizard said.
There are usually 12 to 30 students in the program.
The graduation rate is close to 95 percent once students reach advanced-level classes.
Regular therapeutic massage classes are offered in the daytime, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday though Thursday.
The student massage clinic operates at specified times (see FYI box below) in room A-212 on Northwest Campus.
A 50-minute session costs $20 for visitors and $10 for college students and employees with a PCC identification card.
For an appointment, call the clinic at 206-2062 and leave a message with your name, phone number and requested appointment time.
You will receive a return call confirming your appointment.
You must pay for sessions in advance at any Pima cashier’s office, and bring the receipt to the appointment. Arrive at least 15-20 minutes early to complete paperwork.
The clinic will be closed during Spring Break and re-open March 27.
Pregnant women and people with significant health problems or who are contagious will not be able to get a massage.
For further information, call 206-2263.