June 5, 2023

Meet Martha Holland, Program Coordinator, GBCC Massage Therapy Program

Martha Holland joined Great Bay Community College in August 2022 as coordinator of the Massage Therapy Program. Her move into education fulfills a goal of sharing her vast knowledge of massage therapy and human physiology with curious students who are eager to learn.

After finishing her bachelor’s degree in environmental conservation, she earned her master’s in exercise physiology. Ever curious, Holland added a degree in physical therapy and a certificate in massage therapy.

She has worked as a physical and massage therapist in a variety of settings, including a hospital, home therapy, outpatient clinics, in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and as the owner of her own massage therapy business. A native of Exeter, she is thrilled to be part of the Great Bay community.

She recently talked about her career and the field.

What attracted you to Great Bay?

The sense of community. There is nothing like knowing there is someone who will be able to answer a question or direct you to the right person. Here at Great Bay each question I have asked has been met with a sincere, thoughtful, and engaging response.

You have earned a variety of degrees and certifications throughout your career. Why has it been important to you to further your education and expand your skillset, and how has doing so improved your life and career?

I remain a curious person, always analyzing and looking for solutions. My education in exercise physiology, massage therapy and physical therapy has given me a better understanding of all those careers, and how they fit together. The knowledge and skills I have gained has helped me teach others how to return to or how to reach their physical potential; it has also helped me with teaching at Great Bay.

What distinguishes the massage therapy program at Great Bay? Why is it a smart choice for a student today? 

The professors in the Massage Therapy Program at Great Bay are all licensed massage therapists with experience in many different massage therapy/manual therapy techniques due to their backgrounds in managing and owning clinics, working in hospitals and private clinics.  Our professors are dedicated to helping each student learn the basic knowledge and skills of massage by using teaching methods that capture a variety of learning styles. The teaching staff meets every other week to pool our resources and to make certain each student reaches their learning potential.

If a massage therapy student has barriers such as financial or psychosocial, Great Bay has the ability to

offer services that can get the student back on track to graduating. We offer grants and scholarships as well as federal student loans, which give students of varying incomes a chance to pursue a career in massage therapy.

Our curriculum is approved by the State of New Hampshire Massage Therapy Board, The National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and by the State of New Hampshire Department of Education, Post-Secondary Education Division. The credits for anatomy and physiology have the potential to be transferred to a four-year degree program.

In addition, the National Exam pass rate at Great Bay Community College has been 98 %. The exam is necessary to become a licensed massage therapist in the State of New Hampshire and in many other states.

Who are your students? Who enrolls in the program?

Our students are traditional students coming from high school, nontraditional students who are making a career change, such as LNAs and some are students with families who, again are making a career change or who want to add to a current career.

How long does the program last, and what kind of careers do the students qualify for after leaving Great Bay with a certificate?

The Great Bay Massage Therapy Program is a year-long endeavor, which gives students all the knowledge and skills they need to be employed in the field as soon as they are licensed. Some of our students are hired during their last semester while fulfilling their hands-on hours at their designated externships.

Describe the job opportunities today.

The job opportunities are exciting and varied. A licensed massage therapist can work in hospitals, spas, gyms, chiropractic offices, physical therapy offices, cruise ships, hotels, university wellness centers, or as a traveling massage therapist going to people’s homes. They can also start their own business, or they can teach.

How has the field of massage therapy changed or evolved since the pandemic?

I think we all anticipated that it would be difficult to get back to massage therapy, but I believe the opposite has occurred. After the worst of the pandemic, there seemed to be more demand for massage.

The longing for some piece of mind and relaxation has led many people back to massage or to massage for the first time. People who were experiencing muscular pain before COVID could not wait to get back to pain relief.

Because of the increased demand for massage there has been an increased demand for massage therapists and the pay has also increased.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Once someone makes the commitment to the Massage Therapy Program at Great Bay, they will not be alone. They will be part of a community of knowledgeable, caring people who will be by their side to help them reach their goals.