August 18, 2016
By Lisa M. Telthorst, RDH, BS, LMT
I don’t know many people plan to change careers at the age of 50, but I did just that, and my only regret is not doing it sooner.
I was motivated by a number of things—a revolving door of neck and back pain first and foremost—but also a desire to work in a less hectic, stressful environment. I wanted to remain in the health-care field, but avoid the sedentary, problematic postures inherent to dentistry. Following my very first massage, the seed was sown, although I didn’t realize it right away.
From 1979 to 2006, I had enjoyed the dental hygiene profession, especially developing patient rapport, practice building, and preventative education. Guiding a fearful or tentative patient from poor to optimal oral health and transforming them into a happy, regular patient, is quite rewarding.
In turn, guiding a fearful, injured, or stressed-out client to optimal physical health, transforming them into a calmer, more focused, and regular massage client is equally rewarding. The desire to facilitate and maintain optimum overall health is but one important similarity between dentistry and massage therapy.
My dental hygiene career was spent in private practices, and like most other professionals, I was cross-trained, a necessity in the event of an emergency or a staff shortage. Although my preferred role was direct patient care, stepping into other positions revealed how (and how not) to build and operate a small business. This would prove beneficial when I began my private massage therapy practice in 2007. As a small-business owner and solo practitioner now, I wear all the hats in my office, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Lisa M. Telthorst, RDH, BS, LMT, is a graduate of the UMKC School of Dental Hygiene (Class of 1979). She is a massage therapist in private practice at Legacy Physical Therapy and Creekside Massage Therapy in St. Louis, Missouri. She obtained her LMT certification at Healing Arts Center, St. Louis, Missouri, in 2007.