Everyone knows that factory work is hard work that includes repetitive motion and long hours standing on your feet. That is one reason why the Electrolux appliance factory in St. Cloud, Minn., hosts a health fair each year for its employees, their families and retired workers. And each year, the business asks Minnesota School of Business (MSB) massage therapy and medical assistant program students to volunteer their skills.
Massage Therapy Program Chair Michelle Willenbring notes that the workers they saw “all seem to have the same medical issues based on what they do for a living. The reason this happens is called simply: muscle abuse. This can be from standing on your feet for eight hours a day putting stickers on a refrigerator; however, it can also happen to a man who carries his wallet in his back pocket or a woman who carries a purse over a shoulder.”
Medical Assisting Program Chair Lisa Smith adds, “Many don’t go to the doctor unless there is something really wrong. Letting them know that they should watch their blood pressures and health as a whole [is important].”
Students gain valuable experience as they practice their skills as well. Health Care Management Program Chair Deb Berglund sets her goal at students gaining communication skills by working with the public besides practicing their medical skills.
Willenbring says her goals “were for [students] to feel like they were positively contributing to the health and wellness of those who were seeking help and willing to participate.”
In addition, Willlenbring encourages her students to take turns walking around the health fair themselves to learn what they can—and of course hand out their own business cards while practicing networking.
Smith also notes that the students learn to “work as a team and learn other cultures that are out there.” How to relate to others, she maintains, is important.
In the end analysis, massage therapy student Coleen Weber knows that the volunteerism boosts her career goals. “Going into a work environment and getting familiar with the public, doing chair massage in the open,” she says, “this exposure helps MSB and my name [get] out there.”
Electrolux volunteer Kim Wagner reports that student participation is greatly appreciated and that the chair massages, in particular, are a special treat.
Not surprisingly, MSB students have a standing invitation to the Electrolux Health Fair every year.