resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)?
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.
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?
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?!"
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.
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.
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.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
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.
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.
July, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 07
Moving Massage Therapy Toward a Brighter Future
By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB
Exciting things are happening in our profession of massage. I am more positive about the profession's future than I have been in many years. We are being included in the development of the new Integrative Healthcare Paradigm largely through the work of the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Healthcare (ACCAHC – "The Consortium").The Massage Therapy Foundation is representing massage at international research conferences and promoting massage research. Both of these organizations deserve our support. Many of our stakeholder organizations are stepping up and moving us toward being accepted as a real profession. I want to share more of the good things that are happening with you and point out some problems that will hold us back from reaching our potential, while making some constructive suggestions. In the spirit of full disclosure, while I am on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, I am not speaking for the Board. All opinions in this column are my own.
So, let's start about a year ago when the youngest stakeholder organization in our profession, the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (Alliance) published a position paper recommending a change in focus for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). The paper proposed that NCBTMB let go of its entry-level certification and testing program and replace it with a voluntary post-graduate certification credential that would follow mandatory state licensure. This new and upgraded program was suggested as an alternative to the so-called "advanced" certification program that NCBTMB was promoting. For its part, the Alliance took a lot of heat for having the audacity to "tell other organizations what to do."
Then, in mid-March, NCBTMB took us all by surprise by announcing that lo and behold, it will sunset the National Certification program in 2013, and replace it with a new post-graduate credential called Board Certification (with specialty certifications to follow). Kudos to NCB's leadership for finally being able to break out of an operating model that was heading off the cliff, but also kudos to the Alliance for planting the seeds and advocating a bold position for the future welfare of the whole profession.
Time for Teacher Standards
Separate from all of that, the Alliance has proposed the single most important step needed in the advancement of our profession – the development of standards for massage teachers. The National Teacher Education Standards Project (TESP) is a five-phase plan that will establish core competencies for massage therapy teachers, along with model teacher-training curricula, training resources and ultimately, certification programs. Phase one of the TESP, The Core Competencies for Massage Therapy Teachers, has just been released for public comment and input.
Once again, the Alliance is ahead of the curve in putting forth a project of this nature. It is an ambitious, long-term effort, estimated to take five to ten years. The goal of this effort is to create a culture of teaching excellence in our field with the downstream result of therapists being able to deliver a better massage to the public.
The nursing profession went through a similar process many years ago and there are additional excellent model(s) to draw from. The massage profession must begin the training of our teacher corps, turning them into true educators, rather than simply therapists with a textbook publisher's lesson plan in hand. Just because a therapist can give a good massage does not mean they have the knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSA's) to effectively teach beginning massage therapists. It will take time, but it will be worth it. If you are a massage educator and want to be on the cutting edge of massage education, check out the Alliance website www.afmte.org to become involved in this process. In a national survey conducted by the Alliance, 80.4% of respondents agreed that competency-based teacher training standards are needed in the massage profession. Only 6.8% disagreed. The time has come.
Massage students are only as good as the quality of instruction they receive. Better instructors make better therapists. The only way to elevate our profession to the status it deserves, and that most of you desire it to have, is to improve the knowledge and skill level of our teachers. If you are a massage instructor, view this as an opportunity to improve your teaching skills. We can all get even better than we are now – right? The standards will be phased in over time in a supportive way. Our entire industry needs to support this endeavor, as nothing else can do more to get the public higher quality massage than developing and implementing a teacher standards program. Just as we are what we eat, a profession is what its practitioners have been taught.
The Storm Clouds
However, the two largest stakeholders – our major membership organizations – have set out on a wayward mission to standardize the hours required for licensure and to come up with a learning objectives map for entry-level massage programs, the "ELAP." PLEASE – don't just do something!
The number of hours required for licensure are currently completely meaningless quantities. They are dartboard numbers that have been picked out of convenience to school operators or for accessing Federal Student Aid. Standardizing the country on an arbitrary number of clock hours will not magically improve competency or portability. There is simply no data that shows the public is getting a safer massage from graduates of a 1000-hour program as opposed to a 500-hour program. One thousand poorly taught hours will not produce a better therapist than 500 poorly taught hours. In fact, it may produce a worse therapist with more substandard habits and lack of awareness, burned out and broke. The number of clock hours that will eventually be nailed to the wall by the ELAP, if it is allowed to proceed, as the "evidence-based" standard will be completely meaningless if we cannot assure that at least 90% of entry-level program graduates can give a massage of satisfactory scope and quality. What we need are curricula with academic integrity, not just some arbitrary number of hours and a few learning objectives.
Further, clock hours are an unsound way to specify an educational program. We need to move to an academic credit-hour system, like every other healthcare profession. We must move to an educational system based on competencies, which includes assessment of student performance at each level of their training. COMTA has had a competency-based curriculum standard for more than a decade, yet our major stakeholders are off to re-invent the wheel. Why not use COMTA's existing program, updated with the MTBOK, now with its re-mapped KSAs? (More brilliant work done by the Alliance.)
Besides, job task analyses (JTA's) (the ELAP is to be based on a new JTA being done for the MBLEx), while psychometrically valid and legally defensible, measure what people who are not necessarily successful and who do not know what they do not know, think others should know to be successful. They primarily serve to dumb a profession down, especially as its level of competency decreases. New JTA's only lower the floor. It is time our profession comes up to a competency standard developed by successful experts, not down to a price or worse, to a continually lower common denominator.
The "license portability" promised by this ELAP project will likely not happen, as there are many other factors besides hours in laws and rules that affect portability. Supporting model legislation by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) is the best way to achieve portability. Besides, portability is not the burning issue nor essential for the development and improvement of a profession.
A "Kneaded" Idea
Come-on stakeholder leaders, don't waste our dues dollars on another ivory tower task force whose report will be thrown on the pile with all the others. It is time to support:
If you really want to do something constructive, help us dramatically modify or put the ineffective modular program format out to pasture for good. And for extra credit, how about developing and implementing reasonable admissions standards instituted in every school that offers a massage program? We should not be throwing our doors open to the academically inept, and/or ethically challenged (like felons) guaranteeing failures, loan defaults, and future ethics complaints.
This approach is the most efficient way for massage therapy to achieve its potential with both the public and the arising integrative medicine-healthcare community – both of whom are waiting for us to elevate ourselves to a true alternative healthcare profession. Will we step-up and meet their expectations? More importantly, will we decide to live up to the potential our profession has to offer the public?
Think about it. If you care, get involved.
Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB.
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