resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
Kansas Achieves Licensing Law
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2615 into law on Friday, May 13, 2016. HB2615 includes provisions for the licensure of acupuncturists in the state of Kansas.
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
How to Stay Sane During the Elections: Understanding Through the Lens of Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine philosophy, everything consists of Yin and Yang. The law of polar opposites – one cannot exist without its opposite.
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
February, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 02
Is Hours and Hours of Education Really the Answer?
By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB
A small but influential group of people in our field have wrapped their brains around the idea that we must increase the number of entry-level education hours to elevate our standing with the public and get massage therapy incorporated into mainstream healthcare. This is only a theory and one that is not substantiated by evidence.
Improving working conditions and opportunities for massage therapists is an important goal for our stakeholder organizations to pursue. However, this single-minded focus on jacking up the number of training hours while ignoring the quality of instructional design and delivery is not only foolish – it is dangerous.
It is time to take a good look at the ramifications of such a decision. A curriculum with more clock hours is going to cost all parties involved more money. Tuitions will have to be raised if schools are to provide longer programs. That will make it more difficult for prospective students to afford massage school. Those receiving Federal student loans and other financial assistance will graduate with more debt. Is more debt a good thing? Usually not, except in the case of politicians and government.
The operative question is: will the graduate of a longer program, burdened with more debt, be able to go out into the field and make significantly more money than a graduate of today's programs? This is where the theory breaks down. Are the massage franchises going to automatically start paying more to graduates who have more hours on their school transcripts? Massage Envy currently has a corporate policy that does not allow individual franchises to pay a newly-hired therapist more – even if they have years of professional practice experience. It's doubtful more training would convert to better wages.
Are hospitals, chiropractors, clinics, spas and cruise ships going to raise the compensation paid to massage therapists because they have more hours of training? Will the public pay 50% more for massage because the therapist has, say 750 hours instead of 500? Will the marketplace support increased prices for massage? The real-world perspective is a resounding "NO."
Consumers are already backing away from massage according to AMTA surveys. So, who will be served by raising hours? New students will have to deal with the logistics and greater expense of being in school for a longer span of time. Facing an already shrinking pool of new applicants, schools will be further challenged as they are forced to provide more classroom space, develop new curricula and pay for more faculty and administrative staff hours. This kind of mandate could push another group of small proprietary massage schools off the cliff. The only institutions that can afford to absorb these expenses are the for-profit career colleges and the publicly-funded community colleges. If this were to occur, it would put more of the true lineage-holders of massage education out of business. That would be a tragic loss to the future of massage therapy.
Who wins here? One might think the public would benefit from a better, more consistent massage delivered, but more training hours in and of themselves do not a better therapist make. I can attest to that as I have received massage from the 2,000-hour wonders in Canada. My most disappointing massage experiences have been in Canada. I am sure there are great therapists north of the border but they are no more common than here in the U.S.
Will more hours taught by today's untrained or under-qualified instructors produce a better therapist? More poorly-taught hours could actually make a worse therapist by exposing students to poor role models over a longer period. Hours are not the answer to providing more consistent and effective massage services to the public.
And what about the much-touted "safety" issue? Aren't these laws in place to protect people from being injured? Well yes, but the fact is the incidence of actual harm from massage therapy is miniscule. But wouldn't more hours create a safer therapist? Anecdotal information from one of our major membership associations shows it may be just the opposite: the higher the number of education hours, the more insurance claims against practitioners. Armed with more tools in their utility belts, it appears that "advanced" therapists may be more likely to get themselves into trouble.
Some are just positive that if we raise our hours, then we will be accepted by mainstream healthcare. If history is any indication of how that works, there is clear evidence that an increase of few hundred hours is not going to open any doors. The medical establishment is not about to let in any practitioner group that does not have a rigorous college-level training requirements.
Case in point: the nursing field is on track to eliminate traditional diploma-level programs in hospitals and community colleges and require a bachelor's degree for all registered nurses. By 2015, the entry-level credential required to become a physical therapist will be a doctoral degree! If they won't hire nurses without a bachelor's, are they going to hire high school grads who finish massage school with even 900 or 1200 hours? Maybe – but only at a level comparable to CNA's or physical therapy assistants. Is working at the lowest levels of the medical pecking order an upgrade? Is that the recognition so many people's egos seek? Oh, that's right, there will be "benefits." Right, maybe if you are full time.
Anything we do hours-wise to gain acceptance by the allopathic medical community will mostly punish ourselves. The only real hope of gaining acceptance by the powers that be is to deliver consistently high-quality, professional massage services to the public. It is public demand that will bring us acceptance and that public trust must be earned.
Saddling entry-level therapists with more debt to work for no more money will prevent them from taking the ongoing continuing education that creates a successful therapists in our system. Remember, we are first-door providers with full autonomy. No gatekeeper sits on our heads. The public has direct access to us. We should be teaching entrepreneurship, professionalism and competency – not just a relaxation routine, enhanced with "deep tissue technique" which seems to have become a way to charge by the pound for pressure, usually un-artfully applied. It is time we provide a solid foundational education for all therapists and honestly advise that post-graduate specialization should be part of their career plan.
We do not have a chance of being accepted by the medical profession in general until we can deliver the goods. Unfortunately, our current system of massage education cannot reliably produce that at any hour level. Until we have a competency-based education with a standardized skill base, taught by properly trained teachers, we are going to continue to contract as a field. We're never going to be taken seriously as long as we keep producing self-congratulating projects like the MTBOK and ELAP that amount to "Bridges to Nowhere."
Fortunately, the solution is not only within our grasp, we have already created it. Sadly, it is being left twisting in the wind by our major stakeholder organizations. Tune in to the March issue for a new proposal to solve this problem. And bring your kites!
Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB.
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