3 Big Considerations to Become a Hospital-Based Pediatric Massage Therapist

March 4, 2022

Preparing to Work in the Pediatric Hospital and Healthcare Environment

Healthcare providers practice hands-on therapeutic techniques to address various medical and non-medical concerns for clients and patients. Hospital-based pediatric massage therapy training offers a direction for professional massage therapists to advance their practice in the health care environment, as in all massage specialties, advanced training matters. Special precautions should be taken due to the pediatric patient’s vulnerability, both physically and emotionally, to minimize risk and discomfort to the patient. Children may have fear or apprehension relating to touch due to other treatments that may have caused distress. 

The Certified Pediatric Massage Therapist (CPMT®) should have a basic medical understanding to effectively communicate with other medical team members, ensuring patient safety. Neither formal medical training nor primary massage therapy education provides this specific background. Reading a hospital chart and navigating the documentation system is extremely important. You must be willing to look up any diagnoses, procedures, medications, or medical terms that you are unfamiliar with to have a complete understanding of the patient’s medical history and current status.

The pediatric hospital is not the place to “fake it until you make it.”

In the Hospital

The type of care you provide to pediatric patients in a hospital will depend on the scope of your background and the job description associated with your position. Some pediatric massage therapists fall categorized under the auspice of providing emotional and nurturing support, while others focus on specific therapeutic plans, including pain relief or rehabilitation goals.

Hospitalization as an adult is quite stressful but can be even more so for children who may not completely understand their treatment and prognosis. Pediatric massage requires extra communication to alleviate everyone’s concerns and address the opportunity for education and increased awareness.

Using pediatric massage incorporated under the auspice of Integrative Medicine is about the relationship between the patient and the practitioner. It uses evidence-based interventions to care for the whole patient.

Becoming Part of the Healthcare Team

In some healthcare settings, there is still a tendency to minimize the role of massage in the hospital setting, pointing to stereotypes of massage purely as a luxury.

To best integrate into the healthcare system, therapists should look at their work as a team-based approach to integrative health care and scope of practice, establish therapeutic relationships and work with the team to develop comprehensive treatment plans.

Your success in the hospital can be attributed to understanding your role and boundaries as a member of the integrative healthcare team in a pediatric healthcare setting. Knowing and understanding hospital-based policies relating to safety and infection control are essential tools and practical skills required by every medical professional.

Certified Pediatric Massage Therapists (CPMT®) are a massive asset to the medical team and can provide specialized care that other medical staff may not have the time to deliver. Pediatric massage is a safe and effective therapy when practiced by trained practitioners. This gentle modality can be adapted and appropriate for most pediatric patients, even if they are medically fragile.

 Massage can be very beneficial for the patient physically and emotionally, which only adds a positive touch to their hospital experience.