resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
March, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 03
What Scope of Practice?
By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB
Most professions clearly stake out a scope of practice and then work to expand it. They work to plant it into law in each state and then grow it at every opportunity. Not the massage profession.We have consistently avoided defining our scope of practice. Our national leadership has consistently refused to draft model legislation and work to pass a standard law in every state so practitioners can have mobility, and the public can depend on a massage professional to meet consistent competency standards. Instead, volunteer therapists in each state have written their own laws from scratch, with minimal, if any, guidance. In the last two years, both the AMTA and ABMP have published some models, but they are suggestions - more guidelines than goals to accomplish.
Most massage therapists do not understand the legislative process and the nuances of drafting practice legislation where words mean something and a lack of words means something; mistakes have been made, not learned from, and made over and over, wasting years, thousands of dollars, and countless hours of effort. For proof of this, consider the hodgepodge of inconsistent licensing laws that have been passed, some of which are more of an impediment than benefit to practicing professionals.
In some states, teaching a seminar entitled "Medical Massage" is against licensing regulations. Due to poorly written laws, in some states, massage therapists cannot practice CranialSacral Therapy; in other states, stretching and exercises have been removed from our scope of practice. Some of our best educators cannot teach in some states because the way they practice the strokes (the same used by all forms of touch therapy) is not described or titled "correctly." Quite honestly, this is an embarrassment.
Whenever we have been challenged, we have given up scope of practice. Our scope is now more restrictive than it was 20 years ago. Some of our licensing efforts have become nothing more than a tax to practice, in some cases a voluntary tax. Want a license? Here you go. Don't want one? Fine - do your thing. The few good state licensing laws are constantly under attack, and there appears to be little effort by the professional associations to defend what we have, much less go for more.
Unfortunately, we are so politically correct that we dare not offend anyone. Since any time a group takes a stand on something - right or wrong - it offends someone or some other group, the massage profession has been very careful not to declare a meaningful scope of practice, a meaningful definition of our profession, or a meaningful piece of model legislation. The absence of leadership is not due to incompetence. Consciously or unconsciously, it is driven by money.
Nothing had better get in the way of the cash flow. The cash flow comes from anyone and everyone getting in easily and quickly. Zip them through school, sign them up in some association, sell them an insurance policy and maybe a license. In a few years most fail because of a lack of skills in both technique and business management; however, they are replaced by even more, quickly trained therapists.
The legal environment does not really matter; in fact, better for it to be muddled. As long as we can push some oil around and use the word "therapeutic," the system works very well for the system. "The mill" grinds up therapists, while the regulators, insurance vendors and associations fleece them. The 500-hour standard is a joke - it's not even long enough to be recognized as a profession by the government, which always sets the lowest possible standards for everything (well, except for taxes). Yet, a significant number of people in this profession feel 500 hours is too high.
The only thing saving this profession is the incredible power of caring touch, the good hearts and intentions of the majority of the people entering this profession, and the far too few excellent schools, whose owners really are dedicated to quality training and to the profession. Sadly, most of these owners have been therapist/educators for a long time and they are nearing retirement. When that generation hangs up their towels, I wonder who will carry on? Oh well, the cash flow won't go down without a fight. Corporations and bureaucracies are very good at maintaining the status quo. That said, may I suggest what I think our scope of practice should be? (Since it is my column, of course I can!)
The scope of the medical massage therapist or any massage therapist/bodyworker is simple. We should have the scope of practice to assess and treat - yes, treat - minor myofascial complaints. "Minor" meaning surgery is not required. (So the complaint can be major to the person with it! But surgical intervention is elective, not required.) Myofascial - meaning muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia.
To do this we treat (there's that "T" word again) the soft tissues and the tonus mechanism (system) of the body using manual manipulation methods; stretching and movement; hydrotherapy; mechanical/electrical devices, which effect muscle tonus; nonprescription medications (homeopathy, herbals, supplements, etc.); and nonprescription topical applications. This is clear, simple, concise, and very open. If you think about this, you will realize what an incredible scope this would give us. I'll bet we could get that (and more) in every state with well-written legislation and the support of our patient base. Of course, to get it, we may have to increase training and competency. (Uh-oh. That will threaten cash flow. Sigh.)
Yes, this would probably mean a split in the profession to separate the amateurs from the professionals at both the school and therapist levels. The professionals might have to be divided into relaxation and therapeutic levels. Not necessarily, but probably. More training coupled to competencies, not just hours, will likely be required.
Obviously, this is an editorial / philosophy column. It is not intended to impose anything on anyone but to create awareness, plant seeds and encourage you to think. Keep thinking. I'll be back with more for May Day.
Try This: When faced with a complicated or seemingly difficult patient complaint with an intimidating diagnosis, approach the patient lovingly and respectfully, giving him/her your undivided attention. Respecting all applicable contraindications without causing pain (discomfort is ok, but pain is not), work to reduce muscle tone, ischemia and trigger points, increase circulation, and restore range of motion. By normalizing soft-tissue and movement, it is amazing how many complaints quickly lessen or go away.
Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB.
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