resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Day in the Life of an Advanced-Practice DC
Can you tell us a little about your background in the profession? Why did you want to become a DC? I studied at Boston University from 1968-1972 as a pre-med student majoring in biology.
News in Brief
Northwestern Student Honored for Addressing Concussions Head-On; Northwestern Announces New CFO; Life U. to Provide Unique Opportunity.
Excited to Share the Science of Chiropractic: An Interview With Dr. Heidi Haavik
Dr. Heidi Haavik has become known in the circle of chiropractic researchers as not only a rising star, but also one willing to do research that can have a major impact in the scientific world and how chiropractic is perceived.
The Rest of the Patient Story
I've written previously about allowing a patient to tell you their story – about taking the time to listen and engage all the aspects of their case history, the injury in question, and the related issues.
NCCAOM Launches New Membership Organization
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) recently launched a new national membership organization, the NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates.
How Many of Your Patients Have Sarcopenia?
Figure 1 demonstrates the typical appearance of sarcopenia in the paravertebral muscles. Have you considered evaluating your patients for this problem? Sarcopenia is the progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and function that affects the older population.
The Value of Melatonin in Breast Cancer Prevention and Adjunctive Treatment
Although melatonin (MLT) is best known for its sleep-aid properties and as a natural remedy to prevent jet lag, extensive experimental studies suggest it possesses anticancer activity through several biological mechanisms.
Specialized Pro-Resolving Mediators: 21st Century Inflammation Fighters
Specialized pro-resolving mediators, or SPMs, are a portion of the omega-3 fatty-acid spectrum that have been shown to have a powerful effect on reducing inflammation.
Constructing Our Reality: The Primary Channels and Perception, Part 1
My favorite topic of discussion within Chinese medicine is the acupuncture channel systems. First of all, each of us have them. They are part of our bodies; not something external to us. To learn about the acupuncture channels is to learn about ourselves.
Designing a Fitness Plan (Part 4): Blending Pain Relief With Healthy Aging
Pain relief is still the No. 1 reason patients come to my office. However, most of my patients have other goals as well, such as: "I want to lose 10 to 20 pounds"; "I feel old and want to slow down the aging process"; "My doctor says I am becoming a diabetic and need to exercise"; or "I'm tired and want more energy."
Filling the Gap: The Role of Alternative Practitioners in a Broken Health Care System
I have been asked many times what got me into alternative medicine. My answer is simple: I want to truly help and make a difference in people's health.
Identify & Adjust the Apex Posterior Sacrum
Low back pain involving an apex posterior sacrum (+θX-axis misalignment) typically presents with signs of lumbosacral joint impingement or facet syndrome.
An Alarming Lack of Accountability
Accountability seems to be a lost quality today. The simple act of taking responsibility and doing the right thing just doesn't happen as often as it should. Maybe it is the litigious nature of our society.
Health and Wellness Partnership
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and The Wellness Center at the LAC + USC Historic General Hospital recently joined forces to extend care to the residents of Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
The Art of Listening
One of the most important clinical concepts for me was voiced by the legendary physician William Osler. "Listen to your patient, he/she is telling you the diagnosis." After treating literally thousands of patients, it can become almost second nature to quickly discover clues which reveal the underlying diagnosis.
Transparency is Key at ASA First Annual Meeting
On March 4th and 5th the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) held a successful first annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Misconceptions & Opportunities With Medicare
As I speak around the country on how to properly document Medicare patient encounters, I get questions regarding opting out of Medicare. There are many misconceptions about opting out of Medicare, including just what it means to opt out.
Energy: For Life and For Death
Energy is a deep topic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is understood to underlie all of existence, animated or not, and the qi of the living is studied with special attention.
An Interview with Amanda Shayle
JW: Can you share with us some of your history and how you became an acupuncturist? What did you do prior to becoming an acupuncturist? Where did you go to school?
Asking Patients the Right Questions
When was the last time you asked a patient a question? Maybe 30 seconds ago? But, are you asking the right questions to elicit valuable and useful information? As a healthcare provider, you've likely spent hundreds of hours learning to ask the right questions to gather critical health information from your patients.
Let's Streamline Your Front Desk
Your front office can be your greatest source of efficiency or a constant bottleneck. Increasing the productivity of this area without sacrificing the quality of patient interaction can be a little tricky.
Roots in the Community, Branches Far Beyond
The Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine (JTS) was founded in 1998 by Sean Christian Marshall in Sugar Grove, North Carolina, a small community near Boone in the state's westernmost mountains.
Building Relationships and Referral Networks with Allopathic Practitioners
Dr. Doug, an orthopedist of 20 years, had heard stories from patients who tried acupuncture. While he was able to address many of their complaints effectively, some appeared to gain additional benefit when their care included TCM.
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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