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Massage Today
March, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 03

Education Takes Center Stage at Annual Council of Schools Meeting

By Editorial Staff

Tiffany M. Field, PhD, founder of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School, was the keynote presenter at the AMTA's 2002 Leadership Conference and Annual Meeting of the Council of Schools (COS), held January 22-26 in Tucson, Arizona.

Dr. Field, a long-time supporter of research-backed factual findings that support the efficacy of massage, spoke about ongoing broad-based research programs in collaboration with other doctors in the fields of obstetrics, pediatrics and pharmacology.

An international group of massage and bodywork school owners and administrators met and discussed a variety of education-related topics. An entire day was dedicated to understanding competency-based education. A workshop entitled, "Competency-Based Education: What Is It? How Does It Work? Why Is It Relevant to Massage Therapy Education?" was facilitated by educator/teacher Judith McDaniel, PhD, who has designed evaluation processes that allow students and employers to determine competency in a variety of skills.

A competency-based panel presentation and competency-based discussion groups followed her workshop. The discussion groups grappled with issues such as testing for competency and creating a curriculum for competency.

Elections also were held at the annual meeting. The current officers of the council are:

  • President - Peggy Smith, BMSI Institute, Overland Park, KS;
  • 1st Vice President - Doug Fairweather, Okanagan Valley College of Massage Therapy, Vernon, BC Canada;
  • 2nd Vice President - Dan Friedman, NY College of Wholistic Health Education and Research, Syosset, NY;
  • 3rd Vice President - Barry Antoniow, Kine-Concept Institute - Maritimes, Fredricton, NB Canada; and
  • Secretary - Winona Bontrager, Lancaster School of Massage, Lancaster, PA.

In an interview, Peggy Smith, president of the 300+ member council, indicated that she felt that the opportunity for school owners to network among themselves was the most important aspect of the COS. She mentioned that she has always derived value from being able to sit down over lunch with her peers and share how problems are solved and how progress is evaluated. She felt strongly that this sharing of experiences was beneficial for the massage therapy profession as a whole, in that it allowed for an elevation of the quality of educational programs and a greater ability for meaningful interaction with students on administrative issues such as alternative financing/financial aid, admissions policy and professional behaviors.

Smith indicated that she felt the discussions on competency-based education were particularly pertinent to educators today, as there is continuing debate in the profession concerning hours of education required for entry level practice. She indicated that it was likely that trends in the evaluation of competencies could be a consensus-building step in changing the paradigm from hours to outcomes. She mentioned that the profession continues to deal with the issues of what makes a good/great massage therapist, and how outcomes can be measured. She urged all schools to explore refreshed curricula that incorporate competency-based education, because she feels it allows for accountability in the quality of graduates.

In addition to its annual leadership conference, the COS convenes an annual teachers' conference each summer. This year's conference is scheduled for August 1-4, 2002 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

School owners and directors have several opportunities each year to network:

  • Schools with programs in Asian bodywork can participate in the 2003 Boston meeting of the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA) Council of Schools and Programs (COSP).
  • The Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals annual School Issues Forum will convene October 10-12 in Boulder, Colorado. Among the early suggested topics are perspectives on massage schools from the broader context of the overall career school universe; how to prepare graduates to market themselves and their services; an exploration of timelines on the National Certification Exam process, and their influence on graduates' ability to begin work; and legal guidance on benefits and labor rules.}
  • The 2003 AMTA Council of Schools Leadership Conference & Annual Meeting is scheduled for January 21-25 in Clearwater Beach, Florida.


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