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The Year to Make Things Happen
It is hard to believe that the Year of the Ram – 2015 is half over. Time seems to be moving especially fast. This is the year for things to happen for the acupuncture profession.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
TMF 2015 Scholarships
The Trudy McAlister Foundation (TMF), a nonprofit organization established to support students who are on track to make contributions either to clinical practice and/or to the understanding of the role of Traditional Oriental Medicine, has announced the 2015 scholarship recipients.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients, in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2 to 4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Use Technology to Gain New Patients and Improve Efficiency
From the smartphone in your pocket to your microwave oven, advancements in technology have made almost every aspect of our lives easier.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
What Does Success Mean to You?
Recently, I was asked to speak to young, budding businesswomen about running a successful business — and at first I thought, "Me? You want me to speak to others about success?!"
Acupuncture in the U.K. Today: A Personal View
When asked to write a short piece on the current state of the U.K. acupuncture profession, my first response was to say it has all been relatively quiet.
Breath: The Movement of Oxygen and Energy
I remember with surprising clarity the first time a patient started crying during an acupuncture treatment I was giving. This is now quite a long time ago, back in 1999, when I was a student.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
The Modern Acupuncturist
You studied ancient Chinese medicine, but I'll bet you don't practice it! Contrary to popular belief, our medicine has evolved A LOT over the years. Let's take a brief walk through history and discover the differences between ancient and modern acupuncturists.
The Nectar of Plants: Essential Oils and Chinese Medicine
Essential oils are a very hot topic these days, especially with the likes of the Ebola virus and the resurgence of measles lurking in our awareness, but when I first became interested in Chinese medicine, essential oils weren't on the radar screen for acupuncturists.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 2
A talented young woman presented herself with emotional mood swings, which included being nervous, anxious and jittery.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
Acupuncture and the Pulse
In 1991, I attended a martial arts workshop hosted coincidentally by Sung Baek, a martial artist and the head of his lineage as a Korean trained acupuncturist. I was enamored by the details Sung could attain from the pulse, as told to me by some of his apprentices.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
How One Little Symbol (#) Gets You More Patients
Are you struggling to get more fans or followers for your acupuncture practice? Or are looking for ways to simply connect with your patients? Or do you just want to know how to keep them engaged (comments, retweeting, liking and sharing)?
Calculating Billable Units
I recently learned of an office that was audited based on the number of acupuncture sessions performed in one day. Is there a maximum number of sessions that can be performed in one day?
The Source-Luo Point Combination
The luo collaterals are part of the acupuncture channel system presented in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu (The Nei Jing). The function and clinical application of the luo mai are primarily presented in chapter 10 of the Ling Shu, however, they are also found in others chapters in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu.
May, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 05
The Future of Massage Therapy
By Sandy Fritz
The foundation of the future of massage therapy is the quality of our education today. I wonder how many would agree that the educational structure for future massage therapists is, well, a mess.One definition of a "mess" is a chaotic and confused situation. Chaotic and confused describes massage education right now. I am confident that this mess is actually an opportunity; and one that we can no longer ignore.
It is estimated that there are approximately 1,500 massage therapy educational programs in the United States, according to an Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals survey.1 While community college programs are increasing, most of this education can be found at private vocational schools that offer many different types of training programs. There are also a couple of corporation-based, multi-campus massage school systems that have acquired various single-program massage schools and are unifying the curriculums. There are very few single-program massage schools left.
Three Components to Learning Success
As a textbook author, I have had the opportunity to communicate with many massage therapy program directors and teachers. I rarely find a teacher or school/program director that wants to deliver inadequate massage education. More commonly, school/program directors are confused about what to teach and/or have a difficult time finding qualified teachers. There are differing opinions about what a curriculum should cover, which contributes to the confusion about what to teach; and finding experienced teachers, who are also experienced massage therapists is challenging. A school can have the curriculum and the teachers but without committed students there is no education being transferred. (We will go more in-depth about students in a future article: MT November 2011 issue.)
This is the basis for the educational mess. Bottom line for learning success is all three components (a solid curriculum, skilled teachers and committed students) must be in place.
The curriculum is the easy part. Schools do not differentiate themselves by curriculum. All massage therapy instructional programs should be teaching a very similar curriculum. Schools display excellence through effective teaching of the curriculum. What to present in a massage curriculum is clearer now than ever before. The Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge (MTBOK) project has provided a platform for the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA) for entry-level massage therapists. The document is not perfect and the massage community will have to sort through their differing opinions. However, the identified KSAs for entry-level massage therapists are accurate enough to build a curriculum.
The various exams used for licensing also reflect a body of knowledge that when compared with the MTBOK show a high level of agreement. There is plenty of information on the Web. Check it out yourself:
We should also discuss an important paradigm shift in the education (curriculum) of massage therapists in the U.S. We have gone from information-based education to competency-based education. An information-based curriculum is limited since it focuses on factual content. Professional competencies are the measurable skills and abilities that identify successful massage practice. Curriculum should be competency based. Unfortunately, the tests that are used for licensing in the U.S. are based on a factual knowledge model, which then forces a school to educate in a fact-based way, since schools are measured both by accrediting bodies and state regulators on the percentage of students who pass licensing exams.
Competencies are the demonstration of application from the information received. Competencies are actually very concrete. Either the students can do what is required or they cannot. The idea of competency is not new and it is time for the U.S. massage community to adopt this method to determine the student's ability to practice massage. Multiple provinces in Canada have adopted the Entry-to-Practice Competency Profile, which defines the minimum expectations of newly registered massage therapists (who are entering practice for the first time). The Practice Competencies were validated by means of a survey of registered massage therapists in British Columbia, Ontario, and Newfoundland & Labrador. The survey confirmed that massage therapy practice is common across these provinces.2.3
Changing the Curriculum
Now, here is the messy part: changing the curriculum. It is not as simple as it seems. If a school is accredited, a curriculum change can be considered a substantive change requiring both a time and financial commitment to the accrediting body. There currently are schools that want to make the updates but are waiting until their next accreditation cycle to avoid the hassle and cost. There are similar requirements for the school's state licensing process.
Changing curriculum requires changing lesson plans, changing exams, retraining of teachers, changing program schedules, and the list goes on. This is hard enough for a single program massage school. I know since I have owned a massage school for 26 years. Can you imagine the mess in a multi-campus educational structure?
Regardless of the mess, we have to make these changes. It is hard but those who manage massage therapy educational programs have to make the hard decisions and deal with the conflict and frustration of change. I have and it is not fun. However, we as educators owe a quality education to those who seek us out to learn.
There are educational materials offered by academic publishers that cover the entry-level KSAs in the MTBOK. An effective competency based curriculum can be built using professionally created textbooks, lesson plans, presentation material and online support.
Once you have the curriculum in place, then you need the teacher. As previously stated, all educational programs for massage therapy should be teaching the same foundational curriculum. The way a school differentiates itself is how well the teachers are able to teach the information and that requires committed quality teachers. The availability of massage teachers - who are aware of the most current information and can effectively deliver that information in the classroom - is limited. Those that commit to teaching massage therapists have little support right now and that adds to the mess. Fortunately, the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education is committed to addressing these issues.
What makes a skilled massage therapy teacher? They have to know the material. They need to be able to pass the same tests the student will have to pass. Anatomy teachers need to understand massage and massage teachers need to understand anatomy and physiology. Teachers need to remain current. It is inexcusable for educator to present dated and inaccurate information. Teachers have to teach the school's curriculum – not what they think is correct. Schools and program directors must not allow inaccurate information in the classroom and they also need to provide ongoing educational opportunities for their instructors. Finally, school management must provide support for the teachers in the form of supplies, equipment, textbooks and reference material, and now electronic-based learning systems.
So here is the mess. Competency is based on experience. Experienced massage therapists should be the foundation of the instructor pool. However, these same experienced individuals must not allow their personal opinions to bias their teaching. One of the biggest problems school directors face is a teacher who will not support the curriculum. Yes, part of massage practice is an art but that art is based on the science. I listen over and over to program directors as they describe how a teacher creates confused and frustrated students because they will not present the curriculum as developed, or they disagree in the classroom with information presented by other teachers.
Just like business is business--teaching is teaching. There are skills needed to be a teacher. If we are going to rely on experienced massage therapists to be the foundation of the instructor pool, then we also need to teach them how to teach and how to use the resources available to them. Schools owners, program directors and the corporate executives must be committed to teacher training.
Teacher turnover at many schools is a huge problem. Schools invest in training teachers and then they quit. There are excuses for quitting. The most common I hear are low pay and lack of support. Committed and quality teachers will always be underpaid because they go beyond the "job description". Poor teachers are always overpaid. Teaching is a path of service. However, teachers need to be compensated enough so they can continue to teach. The other reason that teachers quit teaching is the inability to manage the student dynamics – a growing problem. The final component of learning success is the student, which we will discuss in part two.
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