Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud students in the massage therapy school are in the unique position of applying their learning almost as soon as they receive it: first in simulations, then on each other, and finally with the public. But a recent partnership with CentraCare Health System proved to be both educational and, well, charming.
CentraCare sponsored “An Enchanted Evening” at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, Minn. Organizer Deb Hall explained that the purpose of the event was to focus on women’s health while providing a bit of fun.
Massage students obliged by showing up in formal prom dresses—or in the sole male’s case, a black suit and tie—instead of scrubs.
Hall remarked that she couldn’t believe how engaged the massage students were. “They immersed themselves in the environment. They were graceful and elegant, and the participants absolutely loved it!”
“You could see their pride as a group,” she added.
Massage student Samantha Gerken agreed that the evening was both special and rewarding. “We got to dress up and have fun with it. We became a team.”
Blake Hunnel was impressed with the authenticity of the learning he experienced. “It was different from any of the applied learning events I have done,” he said. “Massage is a wonderful way to give back to the community. Getting out and being able to talk to the community and help promote the benefits of massage and get a face-to-face with the people we hope to support is a great way to do an applied learning project.”
Mary Rausch, vice president of the massage therapy student association, said that the learning took place on more than one level. “The skills that we learned were both technical and communication,” she said. “We were able to work on our technical skills with giving the chair massage, [but also] communicate with women of the community who could one day be our clients. We were also able to provide knowledge [such as] the different modality types that are offered.”
Massage Therapy Program Chair Michelle Willenbring could not be any prouder of her team. She remarked that Hunnel “dazzled the ladies with his knowledge in the field” and two first-quarter students volunteered that evening simply to help out (since they weren’t prepared to do chair massage yet).
The applied learning experience delivered on all three of Willenbring’s goals:
- give students real-world experience with technical and communication skills;
- show the public that massage is integrative to the health care industry—not just for spas; and
- provide the participants with memorable fun and knowledge.