resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Apple Takes a Bite Out of Research
The more than 700 million iPhone users have just been given the opportunity to "do their part to advance medical research."
If Your Pro-Chiropractic Governor Resigned, Would You Be Prepared?
John Kitzhaber, MD, recently re-elected to a historic fourth term as Oregon governor, has resigned among alleged ethics violations by his fiancée' and first lady, Cylvia Hayes. I developed a personal friendship with John and consider him a good friend.
Functional Impingement of the Hip (Part 2): Rehab Exercises
I find functionally impinged hips that don't move properly on so many of my patients. (See part 1 of this article for a description of the condition.)
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Talking to Patients About Medial Branch Neurotomy (Part 2)
Even when lumbar facet denervation (medial branch neurotomy) is successful, relief is rarely complete or permanent. Smuck, et al., reviewed 16 articles and found the average duration of >50 percent pain relief for an initial procedure was nine months.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Trouble in the Wellness Waters?
Call me old-fashioned, paranoid or just old, but I do remember graduating from chiropractic college in the late '70s in the midst of the Wilk v AMA lawsuit.
News in Brief
Dr. Frank Nicchi Receives Award at ACC-RAC; Sherman College Expands International Influence.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Teach Your Patients About External Healing Applications
Since the skin is the body's largest organ, and is able to respond to both internal and external stimulations, communicate sensations to the brain, protect the body, breathe and even excrete toxins, it can be an excellent source of healing.
Applauding a Legacy of Leadership
Founding Palmer West President, John Miller, DC, HCD (Hon.), FICA (Hon.), a 1954 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, passed away March 8, 2015 at age 83.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
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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