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Massage Today
May, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 05

NCBTMB Announces New Credential

By Kathryn Feather, Senior Associate Editor

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) recently announced the creation of a new board certification credential, as well as a 12-month plan to improve its overall product offerings and communication tools and support.

"We are totally changing everything we do," said Mike Williams, NCBTMB CEO. "In the past, we have over promised and under delivered. With these improvements, at every point where NCB and the profession intersect there will be significant upgrades."

According to the NCB, the massage industry is at an interesting crossroads. There are therapists practicing under stringent standards similar to other health care providers, and then there is illegal and fraudulent activity undermining the profession’s efforts. Williams believes the best way to establish greater credibility for therapists is by raising standards. Over the course of the next 12 months, NCB will launch a board certification credential, an online career management system, a new continuing education program and an online education resource.

Of each of these new endeavors, the new board certification credential has produced the most questions for therapists. According to NCB, beginning with the first quarter of 2013, the new credential will go into effect, thus phasing out the current National Certification credential. This change has prompted many therapists to question just how this impacts them, whether they are up for recertification or in the process of being initially certified by NCBTMB. To determine how this change effects you, see the chart below:

Due to Recertify Meet Board Certification
Requirements Now
Need More Time to Meet Board Certification Requirements
In 2012 Recertify by your expiration date in 2012 to keep your National Certification status active for two more years. You may transition to the Board Certification credential in 2013. Recertify by your expiration date in 2012 to renew your National Certification for four more years through 2016. Provides extra time to meet requirements.
In 2013 No action required before your expiration date. Become Board Certified by meeting eligibility requirements by your renewal date or sooner to be exempt from taking the Board Certification exam. Recertify up to one-year early in 2012 to maintain National Certification through December 31,2016. Provides extra time to meet requirements.
In 2014 No action required before your expiration date. Become Board Certified by meeting eligibility requirements by your renewal date or sooner to be exempt from taking the Board Certification exam. Must meet Board Certification requirements: 750 hours education, 250 hours hands-on work experience, etc. by your 2014 renewal date to be exempt from taking the Board Certification exam.
In 2015 No action required before your expiration date. Become Board Certified by meeting eligibility requirements by your renewal date or sooner to be exempt from taking the Board Certification exam. Must meet Board Certification requirements: 750 hours education, 250 hours hands-on work experience, etc. by your 2015 renewal date to be exempt from taking the Board Certification exam.
In 2016 No action required before your expiration date. Become Board Certified by meeting eligibility requirements by your renewal date or sooner to be exempt from taking the Board Certification exam. Must meet Board Certification requirements: 750 hours education, 250 hours hands-on work experience, etc. by your 2016 renewal date to be exempt from taking the Board Certification exam.

Board Certification Criteria

The requirements for obtaining the new NCB board certification credential include passing the Board Certification Exam, 750 hours of education, 250 hours of hands-on work experience (25 hours of community service may be credited toward this requirement), successful completion of a criminal background check and a commitment to adhere to the NCB Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. According to the NCB, additional qualifications for this credential will be determined based on feedback from the profession.

NCBTMB - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark For those therapists that graduated from a program with fewer than 750 hours of education, they will be required to complete continuing education for make up for the difference. These continuing education courses must meet NCB’s definition of continuing education and be taken from an NCB assigned school, an NCB approved provider or an accredited college or university. For currently nationally certified massage therapists to achieve board certification, they must meet the board certification eligibility criteria as of their next recertification date and passing the board certification exam will not be required.

Once board certification is achieved, recertification will need to be completed every two years and must be completed within 90 days of the expiration of a therapists certification. According to NCB, in order to retain an active board certification status, therapists must complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years and 100 hours of hands-on work experience or massage-related volunteerism, administration, teaching, curriculum development or writing and publishing of research. For therapists who are unable to meet the recertification requirements due to extenuating circumstances, inactive status is available for up to four years. While in an inactive status, therapists may not identify themselves as a Board Certified Therapist.

In instituting this change, NCB believes that the new credential - by including additional education, hands-on experience and a background check - will ensure that therapists achieving this credential will have the proper foundation to better serve their clients. NCB will also determine additional qualifications for this credential based on feedback from the profession.

Additional Changes

The NCB also announced some additional changes that will go into effect throughout the year. In the summer of 2012, they will launch what they are calling a new career management system, a new online portal where all interaction with NCB can be accomplished, as well as a new website to showcase this new technology. Once complete, applications for all exams, recertification, approved providers, school reviews and payment for all NCB services and products can be done through the new portal. Also in the summer of 2012, all continuing education courses will be vetted for approval, based on feedback obtained through the Massage Approved Provider Panel (MAPP). Instructors will be required to submit their qualifications to teach each course.

NCB also announced that effective immediately, they are discontinuing the online practice exam and they will launch a new online educational resource offering thousands of questions to help candidates test their knowledge of many specific practice areas. The NCETM and NCETMB, currently accepted for licensure in 39 states will be retained, according to NCB. According to the press release, "the exam may now be taken at any time prior to graduation; however, formal notification will be released only upon proof of graduation from a minimum 500-hour massage therapy program. State licensing requirements are dictated by the individual states."

"All of the programmatic and operational enhancements that NCBTMB is making have the full support of the Board of Directors," said Alexa Zaledonis, NCBTMB Board Chair. "This is exactly what the massage profession needs to elevate practitioners to a higher level in order to earn the respect and trust of the health care community. The bottom line is that certification needed advancement and we listened to the public and we learned a lot."

CEO Mike Williams summed up the new offerings by saying, "we are committed to creating a career path for massage therapists by delivering the highest quality programs possible."


Massage therapists who are currently Nationally Certified are already on the pathway to Board Certification and can transition to the new credential beginning in 2013 by meeting the eligibility requirements. They will be exempt from taking the Board Certification exam as long as their National Certification credential is active. It is important to note that the National Certification credential is valid through the expiration date printed on each individual s certificate. This chart illustrates the necessary steps to achieve Board Certification based on the year of recertification.

 

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