resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
Introducing the Acupuncture Today Digital Edition
In response to the changing habits of our readers, Acupuncture Today will introduce a digital edition of the publication (in addition to our print edition) beginning with the August 2016 issue.
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
How to Stay Sane During the Elections: Understanding Through the Lens of Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine philosophy, everything consists of Yin and Yang. The law of polar opposites – one cannot exist without its opposite.
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
Kansas Achieves Licensing Law
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2615 into law on Friday, May 13, 2016. HB2615 includes provisions for the licensure of acupuncturists in the state of Kansas.
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
February, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 02
Time for Change
By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB
A new year can bring so many changes. Just so you know, my column will only appear four times this year. So many great authors out there, I'm sharing the ink. I have also decided that 2011 will be my "Farewell Teaching Tour" and I will significantly cut back on travels after 2011.So, come study with me when I am near your town as this could be the last time.
I'll still be around; I have lots left to share and do. But after 20 years on the road as an instructor and 13 as a musician, the road has lost most of its charm.
Change is the only constant, so watch for the changes and join in when and where you can. As always, I will be posting regular editorials on my blog: http://ralphstephens.tumblr.com, and others.
Speaking of change, a major change must occur in our profession and soon. That brings me to the feature topic of this column.
The biggest problem with massage is that almost anybody can do it with minimal training to some degree. Friends and lovers can learn to give a very enjoyable massage by reading a short article or watching a video. It takes very little to train someone to give a relaxation massage that feels reasonably good to consumers who have minimal expectations and even less awareness of the true potential of massage as therapy. I am not discounting the benefits of the parasympathetic response. My point here is that turning out thousands of massage school graduates who struggle to pass a very basic licensing exam and can hardly give a decent non-specific massage, then "placing" them in low-pay, high-turnover jobs is not going to gain us acceptance by other healthcare professions and may create a backlash against us by consumers, especially at rates of more than $100/hr.
In the short run, this is a cash cow for schools and associations but it is no way to build a profession.
So, how did we get to this place? Well, to ponder this, we have to go back into the past.
I love this quote: "When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness." Alexis de Tocqueville
During the last century, when massage was having its renaissance in the 1970s and 1980s, the vast majority of people entering the profession were in their 30's, had college degrees and/or significant business and life experience. They had discovered alternative health and had a passion to learn how to better help themselves as well as to help others. Most were seeking a more desirable way to earn a living, "outside the box" where they were in control, in a much healthier environment and lower stress situation. It was rare that anyone came to massage school right out of high school, but those who did had a burning passion to learn the profession and to help people.
There were only 50 or so schools in the entire U.S. in the mid-1980s. Massage schools of that time were started by experienced, successful, professional therapists who had a passion for what they did, a knack for teaching and either wanted to share their knowledge and skills with other like-minded individuals or needed to train people to help them in their clinics. This worked rather well, because the instructors were accomplished professionals and the student base was highly motivated, self-funded (for the most part) and possessed the life experience and skills to create an alternative healthcare practice in whatever situation they chose.
These individuals could be turned into massage therapists with six months to a year of training (500 - 1,000 classroom hours) very easily and effectively. They were also acutely aware their school education was insufficient and invested in advanced continuing education at every opportunity. Because they could make a good living doing massage, they could afford this investment in advanced training, which brought huge returns in increased business as they learned how to help more people and conditions.
Today, we have a very different group of people entering the profession. Students are being recruited from the lower income, lower academic strata of high schools with promises of easy work, high pay, and guaranteed loans. These students may or may not have a passion for massage or health, for that matter.
I recently asked a student why she was in massage school. She said her guidance counselor told her she better go to massage school because it was easier than cosmetology - so she did. That is a sad perspective of massage: "It's the easiest school you can go to." The 500-650 hours of education might turn a 30-year-old, degreed professional into a massage therapist, but it will not turn the majority of today's 18-year-old, high school graduates into one.
Times have changed and we must too.
What We Must Do
The time has come to raise educational standards. Hours must increase to include more comprehensive life skills and much better massage skills. Hours in and of themselves are not the answer; curriculum and outcomes must be changed to turn out a healthcare professional that is literate in the language and techniques of the profession. It is time that we not only increase the scope of our training programs, but set significant competency standards for who can teach massage. The "if you can't do it, you can always teach it" philosophy must be abolished. Further, a good therapist does not necessarily make a good teacher, especially to today's students.
I know both these proposals are threats to the cash flow of our current school system, especially in the short run. However, for-profit schools using Title IV funding are coming under increased government pressure to increase placement and lower loan defaults.
A better-trained graduate would help with both those issues, and the only way to do that is to have better trained instructors who actually know how to teach. Most other professions have teacher training/competency standards. It is time we do too. Why? For the primary reason we should do anything: to provide better massage therapy to the public.
Of course, this will have to be a ramp up, not a jump up. Such a change will require the cooperation of all the major "stakeholders" in the profession. A proposal to create standards for instructors has been placed on the table by the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. It deserves serious consideration and support of all. You can view the proposal at http://www.afmte.org/archives/1419.
We have to start somewhere and the best place to improve education and, thus, the profession is improving the quality and abilities of the instructors teaching the work.
Keep warm. Be Well. See you this spring!
Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB.
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