A group of registered nurses gathered recently for a Penn State Wilkes-Barre Northern Tier Center course dedicated to a lost nursing art: massage. The nurses learned basic massage techniques to improve circulation, promote relaxation and ease pain. In addition, the nurses practiced methods that will be used to provide post-event massages for cyclists in the 100-mile Tour de Shunk, a charity bike ride scheduled for Sept. 18 that benefits the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
While some students wanted to learn skills to help employees recover from injury or to increase the comfort of post-op patients, Michelle Paltrowitz, a pain management nurse at Robert Packer Hospital, was drawn to the course for more personal reasons. Paltrowitz lost her sister to cancer last year and will be dedicating her work in the massage tent at the cancer fundraiser to her sister.
According to course instructor and licensed massage therapist Beth Fisher, who is a registered nurse and holds a master of education degree, when Florence Nightingale wrote the curriculum for her nursing school in 1860, massage instruction factored prominently in the topics taught. Considered to be both a skill and an art, massage accounted for approximately 25 percent of nursing practice until the 1920s when technology began to replace human touch. By the 1950s, massage instruction was no longer included in nursing education. Since the 1960s, nurse massage therapists have been working to reinstate the value of human touch in a medical environment that has become increasingly impersonal.
A second session of Massage Basics for Nurses will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, at ProCare Physical in Athens, Pa. For more information, contact John Swayze at the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Northern Tier Center at 570-268-7777, or visit http://wb.psu.edu/ce online.