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MNE allied health programs add massage therapy

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The allied health offerings at Mercyhurst North East will expand yet again with the launch of the new massage therapy certificate program in fall 2015. 

Massage therapy – the manipulation of the soft-tissue muscles of the body – can be used to relieve pain, rehabilitate injuries, improve circulation and aid in the general welfare of clients. Mercyhurst North East’s new program, which will run weekends and evenings, will prepare students for careers in massage therapy in one year.

“Massage therapy really feeds into the Mercyhurst North East strategic plan to increase education opportunities for our students and the public, especially students who are only available for class on weekends or evenings,” said Christine Gluvna, director of the Respiratory Therapy program and interim director of the Massage Therapy program.

Coursework will cover anatomy and physiology, pathology, massage techniques, communication, legal and ethical issues, business practices and CPR/first aid, with a strong emphasis on experiential learning.

With an eye toward state licensure, students in the program will complete a minimum of 900 clock hours. Of the 900 hours, 105 will be spent in clinical practicums on the North East campus. In these sessions, which will be open to the community, students will gain experience by offering 30-minute massages for a nominal fee.

“One of the things that makes this program unique is it’s offered through a university, rather than a proprietary school,” Gluvna said. “To have a massage therapy program backed by the resources of a university is a huge advantage.”

Following graduation, students will be able to sit for the state licensure exam in Pennsylvania or Ohio. Graduates of the program will also have the option to pursue national certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork; the NCBTMB requires 750 hours of education as well as 250 hours of post-graduation professional experience.

The massage therapy program will prepare students for jobs not only in the spa setting but also in chiropractic offices, rehabilitation centers, sport facilities, hospitals and independent businesses. Certification in massage therapy is beneficial to any health care professional looking to increase their marketability, Gluvna said, and is also a good entry point into other medical professions.

“We’re seeing this profession grow in its scope,” she said. “Massage therapists are being embraced as members of holistic healthcare teams and seen as vital parts of the healing process for patients.”

Industry forecasters predict much faster than average growth for the massage therapy profession, with as many as 30,000 new jobs by 2022 and median pay of approximately $36,000 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

“Massage therapy is an opportunity for us to provide another educational avenue to our students,” Gluvna said. “It’s a great way to fill a need in the local job market, not just in the spa setting, but in the rehab and medical settings as well.”

For more information on the massage therapy program, please contact Christine Gluvna at or (814) 725-6334, or visit