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Massage Today
May, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 05

Licensure Comes to Mississippi

Bill Provides Regulation for Mississippi Massage Therapists

By Editorial Staff

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI - Mississippi has become the 30th state to adopt official legislation regulating the practice of massage therapy.

Following approval by the Mississippi legislature, the Mississippi Professional Massage Therapy Act (PMTA) was signed by Governor Ronnie Musgrove on April 7, 2001; the bill officially takes effect on July 1, 2001.

Provision for registration of massage therapists in Mississippi was originally introduced to the Mississippi House of Representatives in early 2000 as House Bill 933, but that bill died in committee.

Nearly a year later, the registration issue was again brought to the state legislature, this time as Senate Bill 2360. The bill was transmitted to the House on February 12; amended and passed by the House on March 1; then transmitted to the Senate, which approved the bill on March 30.

The title of the bill describes the new legislation as:

"An Act to provide for the registration of Massage Therapists; to exempt certain individuals from the provisions of this Act; to create the State Board of Massage Therapy and prescribe its duties and responsibilities; to authorize the Board to promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this Act; to prohibit persons from advertising or practicing Massage for compensation unless they are registered under this Act; to prescribe the qualifications for a certificate of registration; to provide for the examination of certain applicants; to provide grounds for the revocation of the certificate of registration; to provide penalties for violations of this Act; and for related purposes."

The bill establishes a 600-hour minimum standard for obtaining a "massage therapy certificate of registration." Specifically, applicants must submit transcripts from a massage therapy school verifying that "the applicant has completed a board-approved training program of not less than six hundred (600) hours of supervised in-class massage therapy instruction, and at least one hundred (100) hours of student clinic..." The educational requirements include 200 hours in massage theory and practicum; 200 hours in science of the human body; and 200 hours in allied modalities, such as hydrotherapy; charting and documentation; cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid; and referral methods within the health care system.

Included in the text of the bill is a grandfather clause, stipulating that the educational requirements of the act shall not apply to "pre-act practitioners," namely:

  1. those having more than 300 doucmented, board-accepted in-class hours of massage therapy education before January 1, 2001;
  2. those having more than five (5) years of professional massage therapy experience and a minimum of 150 hours of approved massage therapy education; and
  3. those having no formal training, but who have successfully passed the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB).

Pre-act practitioners must apply for a certificate of registration from the state board by January 1, 2002 (June 1, 2003 for students enrolled in a part-time massage school on July 1, 2001.

The bill also provides for the creation of a Mississippi State Board of Massage Therapy, to consist of:

"...five (5) members who are residents of the State of Mississippi. One (1) member shall be a licensed health professional in a health field other than massage therapy. One (1) member shall be a lay person. The remaining three (3) members shall be qualified massage therapists having not less than three (3) years experience of credentialed massage therapy practice, with at least one (1) year of that practice in this state."

According to the bill, board members appointed by Governor Musgrove within 90 days from the effective date of the act, with the advice and consent of the Missisissippi Senate. Board members will be chosen from a list provided by a state-level professional massage therapy association.

Commenting on the bill, Steven Olsen, president of the American Massage Therapy Association, enthused: "Our association is pleased to see that thirty states have taken measures to ensure the safety of consumers and the protection of our profession. Demand for quality massage therapy is growing rapidly, and the public deserves to know that there are standards by which they can determine who is qualified to provide a massage."


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