Does Massage Therapy Count as Clinical Experience?

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts

OPM 27

Session 27

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan and Rich again dive into the forums over at where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster is a current massage therapist. She is in training for a clinical massage training. Would massage therapy become more accepted and being an alternative modality in the health field, how is this going to be viewed by medical schools?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

Massage therapy is a licensed field in most states. A lot of schools that offer it are accredited secondary institutions.

Rich doesn’t think that most medical schools will think that it will add much to your application. It’s not patient contact per se nor is it volunteering. But it’s a work experience that you can list.

Other experiences you need to get include are volunteering and shadowing.

There are massage therapists who work in more clinical settings like nursing homes, some physical therapy practices and osteopathic practices in some hospitals for patients. If you’re able to find positions such as these then this may be useful to your medical school application.



Dr. Ryan Gray: The Old Premeds Podcast, session number 27.
You’re a nontraditional student entering the medical field on your terms. You may have had some hiccups along the way, or you’re changing careers, you’re now ready to change course and go back and serve others as a physician. This podcast is here to help answer your questions and help educate you on your journey to becoming a physician.
Welcome back to the Old Premeds Podcast where we take questions directly out of the Old Premeds forum over at; a site dedicated to the nontraditional premed and medical student. Though if you are not a nontraditional student, a lot of these questions and answers will still pertain to you. This week’s question is a great one and I want to jump right in, so let’s go ahead and say hi to Rich.
Rich, welcome back to the Old Premeds Podcast.

Richard Levy: And how are you doing on this extensive day?

Dr. Ryan Gray: Extensive?

Richard Levy: It seems to be going long for me and it’s only lunchtime.

Dr. Ryan Gray: It’s a good day so far. So we have another amazing question from the Old Premeds forum over at, and this one- we could have some fun with this one but we’re going to keep it professional, right Rich?

Richard Levy: I will try my best.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Alright. So this student has a question about her nontraditional path, her current career as a massage therapist, how that’s going to be viewed by medical schools. Now she’s saying she’s in training now for more of a clinical massage training, but she’s wondering will- she’s asking, ‘With massage therapy becoming a more accepted but still alternative modality in the health field, how is that going to be viewed by medical schools?’

How is Massage Therapy Viewed by Medical Schools?

Richard Levy: Well a couple things about this. One is massage therapy is actually a licensed field in most states now, I think it usually requires a one year coursework. A lot of those schools that do it are considered accredited secondary institutions. I actually had this question very recently on the pre-health advisor’s LISTSERV concerning someone who had both massage therapy and some sort of herbal clinical degree, where in fact the herbal clinical degree was just some private institution, it has no meaning. The massage therapy was an accredited secondary institution; those grades counted. It’s certainly an interesting experience. I’m not sure that most medical schools will think that it adds much to your application. You are dealing with people, it’s not really a patient contact per se, it’s not some sort of volunteering obviously, but it is a work experience you can list. I don’t think it adds but I also don’t think it takes away significant amounts. Certainly the other experiences you need to get, and I’d mentioned doing volunteering and shadowing, and also observing in a physical therapy environment. I think it’s sort of just one of those things that goes on the application and won’t be a big negative and won’t be a big positive.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah and I think from a patient perspective, you mentioned it’s really not patient care, it’s because it’s not somebody who’s sick in a hospital, it’s somebody who’s coming to you willingly and-

Richard Levy: Let me just add one thing to that. I apologize for that. Everything rings at once here, I apologize.

Dr. Ryan Gray: That’s alright. Just before you start again, just give it some dead air.

Richard Levy: Okay just one thing we should add to that. There are physical- or rather massage therapies who do work in more clinical settings such as nursing homes, in PT practices, in some osteopathic practices- not many, they’re more in chiropractic practices, in some hospitals for patients who may be bedridden for a long time, that a massage is good to help relieve strain in the muscles to prevent bed sores, et cetera. So there are settings where a massage therapist does get some real clinical experience, but that’s not typical. Now if someone were to do that and find positions like that, it may be very useful for a medical school then.

Final Thoughts

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah, okay good clarification there. Alright I think that answers that one. Thanks Rich.
Alright I hope that helped clear up some information about some of the other healthcare related fields, and will help you on your journey, help guide you with your decision making as you continue your journey to medical school. If you have a question here for us, go over to, register an account if you don’t already have one, go say hello, ask your question in the forums, and we’ll get to it here on the podcast hopefully soon. If not, I know there is an amazing community over at Old Premeds that is ready and willing to answer your questions to the best of their ability.

As you continue on your journey, keep your head up, keep motivated, and know that the reward at the end of the tunnel is so worth it. So keep pushing forward, and we’ll catch you next week here at the Medical School Headquarters and the Old Premeds Podcast.