NANMT was founded in 1992 by Andy Bernay-Roman a registered nurse, massage therapist and psychologist. Andy saw a need for a body of Registered Nurses with a focus and value in Massage Therapy.
Below is an article written by Andy Bernay-Roman in the 2009 NANMT Newsletter. The title of the piece - "Keep the Fire Burning"
As the founding President and with 22 years of involvement with the inner circle of NANMT under my belt, I have finally decided to resign from the NANMT Board. Al-though I love and totally support the vision and purpose of the organization, I have decided to let go of Board-level involvement. So I’m writing to say thank you, and to tell you a few good stories.
I first thought of creating an organization for nurses who’ve been trained in massage when I was working the night shift in the ICU at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, and attending the Atlanta School of Massage in the afternoons before work. That means for months at a time, sometimes after giving or having been given one or two massages before my shift, I’d go in to the hospital stoned on an endorphin high! I loved it, and immediately started sharing my new knowledge with my friends and colleagues at St. Joseph’s.
Something big clicked for me: I know the power of touch! And I want everyone else to know it too. I was on fire! I rubbed by patients’ feet and watched their capillary wedge pressures normalize before my eyes. I rubbed their sore backs and limbs and watched them relax and sleep where even morphine hadn’t brought relief. I did healing touch treatments like unruffling my patients’ energy fields and saw them stop bucking the respirator for the first time in hours. I was on fire. I know the power of touch!
To formalize this new blend I was experiencing into some sort of organization made sense to me for two reasons: nurses need to know how cool massage work is, and how well it fits with the hands-on ethos of nursing, and secondly, I wanted to have some sort of nursing specialty credentials that could justify my using more hands-on with my patients.
So I invented the Georgia Association of Nurse Massage Therapists, wrote a newsletter, printed up brochures, and started spreading the word. Serendipitously, within a week I met Ann Eaton, LPN, and Jerry Weinert, RN, both nurses trained in massage who worked in my hospital! They immediately joined GANMT, and we were a bone fide organization!
Two weeks later I attended a public forum in The Atlanta School of Massage. An audience member posed a question to the panel of experts about the medical acceptance of massage. One of the panel members, someone from out of town that I’d never met before, commented, “Why, massage is so well received by the medical community, there’s actually a state organization of nurse massage therapists. Have you heard of it?” Wow! The next week we received our first application for membership in the mail-- from out of state! (I still don’t know how that nurse found out about us). Then perhaps a few months later, the fateful and favorable article about us in Massage Magazine. that catapulted us onto the national scene. Before too long the GANMT was transformed into the NANMT.
I learned something: build the field and they will come. And they came. Our member-ship grew rapidly, and each new member shared her excitement to discover us. We were all on fire!
In the last twenty-two years NANMT has made a good difference. We’ve had a lot of press promoting the benefits of massage. We provided the background information and backup for a Nurse Massage Therapist sued by the Physical Therapy Board in New Jersey, for practicing PT without a license, that helped her prevail, and elicit a judge’s ruling that massage was indeed within the scope of nursing practice. We’ve received written confirmation of that from many state Boards of Nursing. NANMT joined NFSNO and NOLF (now joined into the NOA--Nursing Organization Alliance), establishing nurse massage therapy as a nursing specialty, just like IV nursing or enterostomal nursing. We’ve lobbied state legislators with our literature, and with our hands, and helped change the laws. We massaged delegates at the Democratic National Convention, promoting nursing agendas. We established the Vital Touch Task Force at St. Joseph’s Hospital, promoting a hospital-wide high-touch agenda, and have influenced hospital-based massage programs across the country. We’ve networked together through our publications and our conventions, which were so fun and high that we rode on that good energy alone for weeks! NANMT is at its best when its membership is on fire.
Which leads me to my final message in this little article: thank you! Thank you to the present and past Board and committee members and Executive Directors, for your good efforts to bring forth and promote such a good vision of high-touch in health care. I like to think of NANMT as a high-touch organization, consistently adding the extra touches to keep contacts personal and warm, even when we're working things out. It's not always easy. NANMT has had a rocky history at times, almost collapsing at one point, or actually being resurrected from the dead! But the goodness and the rightness of the vision and purpose and goals of NANMT made it worth fighting for and giving energy to revitalize. Thank you to all NANMT members for being rebels or pioneers, and for supporting the larger organization.
I say: keep the fire burning! Nurse Massage Therapy blends such good elements: the thoroughness of the nursing process and the intuitive somatic intelligence of massage, in a way that can further both. But especially as a natural inroad for massage in the health care world. NANMT can take loving touch places that it couldn't otherwise go.
I invite you to step up your participation, and to ignite and direct your passion for what you love. You too, know the power of touch.