The healing touch needs a mentor's helping hand

Michele Renee | September 28, 2016

Mentoring is vital to success in all professions. Northwestern's Massage Program Director Michele J. Renee recently wrote a story for Massage Magazine about the importance of mentors in her field.

There’s no doubt about it. I made my professional life harder on myself when I completed my education, stepped into the world as a freshly minted massage therapist and decided to go it alone.

I had just graduated and was rich in book and classroom knowledge. I knew how to do this, right? Well, yes, to a degree. But I had so much more to learn in so many aspects of my field, as well as when it came to running my own business. I could have benefitted from having a mentor—a realization I wish I had understood much sooner.

As I have complemented my massage therapy background with additional degrees in chiropractic and acupuncture, I have come to embrace much more fully the importance of mentoring, both as a mentee and as a mentor of others. I now believe that mentoring opportunities on both sides represent the critical difference when it comes to achieving success in any field or profession.

Mentoring is a way for us to continue in lifelong learning—a vital skill and success factor in our rapidly changing world. We need to keep learning, from others who practice in our profession and may have better or more innovative approaches. We need to keep learning from others who practice in related fields and can teach us about running a business or skills we can apply in our disciplines.

We also need to keep learning by mentoring others. When we do, we re-learn some lessons we may have forgotten or put to the side. We also can learn much from our mentees, who often are more up to date on best practices or thinking in our professions, as well as in business areas such as online marketing.

Even though mentoring has grown in acceptance and popularity, I still see young professionals making the same mistake I did. I think a lot of them have the same idea I did: “I’ve graduated. I must have all the tools to succeed.”

That's why at Northwestern Health Sciences University, where I studied and teach, and at most schools, we call it commencement, not graduation. We say, “Congratulations. You’re done with the first part of your lifelong education. But this is only the beginning, and you need to keep learning to be successful.”

If you’re lucky, you’ll have mentors—many of them—to help you in that second and lasting part of your education.

Read more about Michele J. Renee’s tips for learning from mentors and how to be a mentor in her full article, which appears in the October edition of Massage Magazine, available in print and also online.

Michele J. Renee became a nationally certified massage therapist in 1998, and is currently an assistant professor and director of the Massage Programs in the College of Health and Wellness at Northwestern Health Sciences University. She holds a Massage Therapy Certificate from Northern Lights School of Massage Therapy in Minneapolis. She also earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Biology, her Doctor of Chiropractic Degree and her Master of Acupuncture Degree from Northwestern. You can reach her at or 952-888-4777, extension 319.

Back to Top