Sharon Puszko, LMT, PhD, NCBTMB Approved Provider
How did you discover the massage therapy profession?
I was teaching school, human biology, internationally for a number of years. When teaching in Tokyo, Japan I discovered many of the doctors there would refer people for massage therapy, acupuncture and other holistic modalities. Being a teacher of human biology, this made perfect sense to me. I made the decision that when my international contracts in Tokyo, Scotland, and Guatemala were fulfilled and I returned home to San Francisco I was going to attend massage school and become a massage therapy teacher. As luck would have it, when returning to the U.S. we moved to Pittsburgh, PA where I attended The Pittsburgh School of Massage Academy.
How did you develop your passion into a career?
After graduating from The Pittsburgh School of Massage Academy my husband and I returned to California as my father had developed Alzheimer’s and needed a caretaker. While reading some of the massage trade magazines I discovered an article by Dietrich Miesler regarding massaging the senior client. I decided to make contact with him and inquire about any special modalities about massaging the senior clients with health challenges. He suggested a meeting and the rest is history.
How has your career evolved?
Dietrich was the pioneer of geriatric massage and had written many articles and was beginning to teach many continuing education classes around the country. He was not particularly fond of teaching, he was more into research and writing (and so he said we were the perfect team because I was a teacher and a massage therapist). He taught me everything about geriatric massage and I worked with him many years until one day he handed ownership of what was then called the DayBreak Geriatric Massage Project to me as he was retiring. After adding additional information and classes it was renamed the DayBreak Geriatric Massage Institute. From there I created the advanced continuing education class in geriatric massage and trained three other teachers to also teach geriatric massage. We have been teaching 20-30 classes around the U.S. and internationally each year since that time. The growth of massage therapists being hired in the ever expanding number of retirement communities all over the country has inspired numerous massage therapists’ interests in obtaining continuing education in geriatric massage. I have been fortunate enough to write many articles, be interviewed on numerous television programs, and make presentations as a keynote speaker to many hospitals and other organizations. Dietrich died in the early 2000’s but he always knew and talked about how important and in demand the geriatric modality would become. I’m sure he would be very proud.
What does being an Approved Provider mean to you?
It means that we are recognized as a substantial, valuable and well credentialed continuing education provider. It means that we are able to be a provider in the most significant and meaningful organization.
What does the future hold for you?
I have scheduled numerous classes and presentations through 2019 at this time. I have positions providing massage therapy for the last 15 years with 3 local retirement communities. In these facilities I work with independent living, assisted living and memory care departments. The growth of residents getting massages on a regular basis is phenomenal. I plan to continue this work and mentor massage students for as long as possible. I’m planning to publish a text on geriatric massage.
How do you hope to see the massage therapy and bodywork profession evolve?
I only see the massage therapy and bodywork profession growing both in respect and in demand. I hope to see the day in my lifetime when massage therapy is included in medical insurance coverage.