resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
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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