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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.
February, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 02
Challenging Sacred Cows, Round Two
By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB
Part I of this column in November 2011, rang a bell with many of you, mostly positive. I sincerely appreciate all the responses. I hope even more of you sent your input to the governing bodies of our profession. They need to hear the roar of the crowd in their boardrooms.
I want to clear up something before I go forward. First, an esteemed colleague and visionary of our profession wrote to me asking if I did not believe in science because of my comment, "While I am not a fan of evidence-based medicine..." Of course I believe in science. In fact, I believe Science is Golden. However, I am a seeker of truth and, quite often, science has become the seeker of political expediency. There is too much pseudo-science going on out there that's being accepted as truth. I am a huge fan of research and science. However, I do not see that evidence-based medicine and the resulting standards of care protocols have improved the health of the public. I do not believe that if we go to evidence-based massage protocols (for this you shall do that), we will serve the individual client better. It is an allopathic paradigm, based on obsolete Newtonian physics, desperately trying to protect allopath's Central Dogma. If we are going to base massage on research, it should be quantum physics-based, a new paradigm that treats the individual holistically. Sometimes I am probably too idealistic.
We have this deep longing to validate our profession through research. Yet, our profession is based on totally arbitrary standards, established out of expediency or consensus with no evidence or research to support them what so ever. Still, we defend them as if they had validity. Where did the 500-hour entry level standard come from? It was chosen in about 1985, primarily for the economic benefit of schools and to create more massage therapists faster. It was a down to a price instead of an up to a standard decision.
The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) institutionalized the 500-hour standard with its job task analysis. This was a classic case of "research" stacked to produce a desired outcome. The resulting certification exam degenerated into an entry-level licensing exam because that was where the money was. Yes, it was partly because it was the only "legally defensible exam" available and making it a licensing exam (forcing people to take it) generated the money to launch the organization successfully. However, it was a bastardization of the original vision, which was to elevate the profession with a meaningful certification. Instead, it set the lowest common denominator and institutionalized it.
There has been no scientific competency research to justify any of our various entry-level hour standards, 500, 650, 750, 1000 or whatever. Before we set any more standards based on arbitrary numbers of hours, we need competency-based criteria as to what is a required skill-set to provide excellent massage to the public. Work soon to be published by the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE) will clarify the MTBOK and map its knowledge, skills and attitudes into specific learning objectives. It is time we stopped picking our standards because some number looks or feels good. It is even more important that we stop picking hour numbers because that is how many it takes to get student aid, or maximize school efficiency or other greedy financial reasons. It is time we put the good of the massage consuming public first and focus all our efforts on serving them the best we can, with the highest quality and competency reasonably possible at entry level.
Where did 12 hours of mandated continuing education a year come from? It, too, is a dartboard number with no basis in reality. Is a day and a half a year really going to elevate anyone's skills? Is an unsafe therapist going to be made safe by 12 hours a year of forced attendance at some course or by purchasing a home-study program?
Since we so lust for research to validate what we do, how about validating our own standards with some? What proves that three hours of ethics every four years has any effect on the ethical behavior of our profession? Prove 12 hours (or however many hours) a year of mandated continuing education protects the public or brings about professional development. If you can't prove it, drop the mandate. What proves a provider approval process improves the quality of continuing education? All provider approval does is create cash flow for organizations and state regulatory boards. It does nothing to insure quality. It is another lowest common denominator process because if it is not, lawyers will tear it down. That is the society we live in. (Other times I am a realist.)
I am a continuing education provider. It is in my best economic interest to work for standards that force more people to take more continuing education. However, money is not my motivator. Providing the public with the best possible massage is. I do not think people forced to take continuing education necessarily learn a thing, practice safer, or utilize what they might learn. People should take continuing education because they want to better serve their clients, to become more successful, to grow and lots of other positive reasons.
As our various organizations attempt to improve our status by raising arbitrary standards, the new students, practitioners and providers are being "taxed" to death. As I look over the landscape of our profession, the most glaring inadequacy I see is the lack of standards and qualifications for massage instructors. While I am not a fan of following the allopathic model, in this case, I think it is time we follow the lead of nurses (and primary/secondary schools) in establishing qualification for massage educators. We need more quality in education, not necessarily more quantity. The time has come for this stage of advancement in the massage profession.
A new organization has been created and is working toward this and other improvements in massage education. It is the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. You need to support this group immediately and help bring about this important plank in the professional development of our profession – the establishment of standards and training programs for massage therapy instructors at all levels.
We need to demand our standards for educational hours and continuing education hours be based on quality, scientific, non-politically or economically influenced research instead of "dart board numbers." If we can't prove it, why do it? Here is a great job for The Massage Therapy Foundation and a good reason to support and donate to them, too.
Membership organizations should be encouraged to contribute and support these efforts, but have little or nothing to say in the process. Their primary interest is more members, which is the main reason we have the mess of regulatory incongruences and arbitrary standards we have today.
As The World Turns
Meanwhile, the FDA is posed to take away food supplements. If you value your access to supplements, check out my previous article at www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=14523. We are in the economic and political mess we are in because of the Ruling Class in Washington, DC. They write the laws, not Wall Street. As we enter this election year, remember it is all the fault of incumbents. Vote against every incumbent, of either party, every election. It is our only hope of breaking the Ruling Class and restoring freedom, which brings prosperity.
Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB.
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