resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
June, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 06
Show Me Your Outcome Competencies
By Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB
In early 1984, I spent a month at the Esalen Institute practicing core shamanic methods in a small group led by Michael Harner, author of The Way of the Shaman2 and founder of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies. During sessions, Michael always was the model of focus and professionalism. Outside of the sessions, however, he was animated and social. And at dinner, we never had a problem figuring out where our group's table was, with Michael's laughter that could be heard across any crowded dinner hall. Often, the laughter came in recounting some scene from his favorite movie, "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre." Thus, we came to know the opening quote quite well. I also was given a model of being flexible and learned to shift my personal presentation to fit the needs of the context. That flexibility has been a "competency" of some of the best teachers I've had the privilege to learn from, which leads me to the real theme of this column. With apologies to Dobbs and Gold Hat, if you are the bearers of "high standards," where are your outcome competencies?
My fellow columnist, Ralph Stephens, and I both like to shine light on where we feel massage training and entry requirements fall short. In the inimitable words of baseball player and manager Yogi Berra, however, "Our similarities are different."3 For me, another Berra quote succinctly captures the root of the problem: "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there." The licensing and certification of massage practitioners likely has been lowering their competence.
It's not so much the licensing itself as it is how licensing has interacted with mainstreaming and training. At one time, teaching massage resembled teaching martial arts, a system of tacit knowledge conveyed from expert to student. The expert may not have said a lot, but they knew how to look at you while you practiced and would keep you at it as long as they felt there was "something missing." Consider that system to be history, now that we have explicitly defined entry requirements. Explicit requirements don't add to a tacit system; they replace it. You get what you explicitly value. The catch is that we haven't defined the outcomes we value; only the total hours and some blocks of hours in vaguely defined subject areas. Career colleges and community colleges teach to what we defined. Students self-select for their ability to match our explicit requirements. We are getting what we asked for, as long as graduates meet the entry requirements. You expected something else, perhaps?
Don't complain about getting what you asked for; do the work of defining the outcomes comprising what you want. Here's the recipe: Insist on differentiating between "high requirements" and "high standards." Standards lead to observable outcomes while requirements don't have to. Define a job specification for an "entry-level practitioner." Define all of the contexts in which you believe the job is done. For each context, break the performance into tasks. Get feedback from the stakeholders in each context. For each task, create a list of required observable competencies or, if covert, competency indicators. Define the needed proficiency levels. Get more feedback. Merge the individual lists of competencies into a master list of competencies, taking the highest proficiency level at which each occurs. Implement a plan to identify applicant learning gaps and teach them what they aren't doing. Assess the results, and modify definitions and teaching methods to obtain the outcomes you want. Reward yourself for creating something that meets specific goals for stakeholders and is a clear guide to schools and students in reaching them. Then go back and assess the results again. The beauty of this method is that all levels are explicit. If you compare your competency standards with someone else's, you can track down the exact source of differences.
The best resource I've come across for going through all of this is a set of books authored by Robert F. Mager called The New Mager Six-Pack.4 I'm of the opinion that no one should be allowed to talk about standards without first being required to demonstrate an understanding of what's in those books. Consider it an entry-level requirement for a "standard discusser" position. The books are clear, readable and filled with examples.
Your efforts, should you accept this mission, won't be alone. New resources to do information handling are coming from the venues of technology and distance learning. (I recently blogged about this: "Guidelines, Learning Objects, & Competency Definitions."5) The Massage Therapy Foundation's Best Practices Committee is actively working on an open and transparent creation process for evidence-based guidelines. At a March meeting of the committee, I co-located with Whitney Lowe in the physical world. Whitney has embodied a lot of the outcome-based concepts in an online clinical reasoning course.6 The course uses an open-source educational framework that supports working through case studies, first as small groups and then as individuals. I particularly like that the environment provides built-in discussion forums to teach students the ability to solve problems by interacting with mentors and peers; a refreshing walk away from the idea of pre-canned answers for everything. Finally, I've been following my own project to create a library of massage competency definitions.7 I'm grateful to a number of people on different massage e-mail lists for their contributions. You'll find their names next to the competencies they suggested.
While I've been discussing massage training, the same process works for personal and business goals as well. Define where you want to be. Define what being there looks like and what skills you are using. Set up a plan to close the learning and experience gaps. Implement that plan and you'll be heading where you want to go. Remember to enjoy the journey and the people you meet along the path.
Click here for previous articles by Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB.
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