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Massage Today
November, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 11

FSMTB Becomes a Reality

By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB

As this issue of Massage Today went to press, an historic step in the evolution of the massage therapy field was being made. The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) held a formal organizational meeting in Albuquerque, N.

M. First reported in Massage Today's July 2005 issue (www.massagetoday.com/archives/2005/07/01.html), the FSMTB was envisioned to be an entity to support individual state's massage regulatory boards and to help enable reciprocity/portability. The specifics of the organization were roughed out last May, and jump-started by ABMP and an interim board of directors. This September meeting brought together representatives from 23 of the 34 state boards that currently regulate the practice of massage therapy, as well as a cadre of educators and authors from around the country to help christen the federation.

During the meeting, the objectives of the organization were introduced, discussions on key challenges and priorities in the field were conducted, bylaws of the Federation were revised and adopted and the first board of directors was elected. FSMTB has been incorporated as a non-profit organization in the state of Illinois, and application for IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status will be filed soon.

The FSMTB will provide the means for state boards to be in greater communication with one another. This networking will allow board members and staff to share the common issues that each agency deals with on a regular basis, as well as identify best practices to improve the effectiveness of their operations. FSMTB also will provide education, services and guidance to Member Boards that help them fulfill their statutory and ethical obligations.

In the area of professional standards, FSMTB will take an active role in advocating for efforts to establish compatible requirements and cooperative procedures for the legal regulation of massage therapists, in order to facilitate professional mobility and to simplify and standardize the licensing process. FSMTB also will seek to improve the standards of massage therapy education, licensure, and practice through cooperation with other entities in the field that share this objective.

At its recent meeting, FSMTB also determined that one of the areas of greatest concern expressed by both state massage therapy boards and massage therapy schools is the examination program administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB). This examination was first offered in 1992, as a part of a voluntary certification option for practitioners; however, it currently is being utilized by most of the regulated states as a mandatory requirement for licensure. From the FSMTB perspective, the continued reliance on this exam program is being questioned for a number of reasons, including: 1. Long-standing problems with delivery of basic services, such as exam registration and approval of continuing education providers; 2. The fact that state boards have had no direct input into the design and administration of this examination program, nor any role in the policy making process of NCBTMB; and 3. Inconsistencies between the eligibility requirements set by NCB for this exam and the specific curriculum standards upheld in each state where massage therapy is regulated. FSMTB stated these are not only logistical problems; they also might present issues of legal exposure for the state boards. As a potential solution, the FSMTB has been researching the establishment of its own national licensing examination.

The issue of FSMTB developing and implementing its own licensing exam has become a controversial issue that generated a rapid letter from the American Massage Therapy Association suggesting such a move might divide the profession. The letter from the AMTA Board of Directors said in part, "...it was indicated that this federation would be creating an exam. Because the profession already has a test accepted by most states that currently regulate massage therapists, we encouraged this new federation to work with the NCBTMB and its new leadership to strengthen the existing exam."

The AMTA statement also said, "The AMTA Board would like to reaffirm our long-standing support of the concept of a federation of state massage therapy boards. This concept can provide a venue for states to communicate about the value of professional standards, fair regulation and improved portability of massage therapy."

While actively exploring the option of creating a new massage therapy credentialing examination that would meet the specific needs of entry-level licensure at the state level, the FSMTB states that they recognize the scope and potential impact of such a choice and have initiated a dialogue with NCBTMB to explore the possibility of the two organizations working in collaboration to improve NCB's existing exam program.

At the meeting in Albuquerque, representatives of state boards were elected to the following positions: President, Patty Glenn, LMP, OR; Vice President, Dave Quiring, LMT, FL; Treasurer, Chris Kiely, LMT. NH; Directors at Large, Kevin Snedden, LMT, MO; Georgia Clem, AR; and Rita Sax, ACMT, IL; Public Member, Vacant. The Board also voted to hire Rick Rosen, MA, LMBT as Executive Director, and established an administrative office at 3 Terrace Way, Greensboro, NC 27403-3660. The FSMTB's web site is www.fsmtb.org.

Please watch future issues of Massage Today for current information on the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.

References

  • American Massage Therapy Association Board of Directors statement issued September 22, 2005.
  • Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards' press release issued September 30, 2005.

Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.

 

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