resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
May, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 05
The Future of Massage Therapy
By Sandy Fritz
The foundation of the future of massage therapy is the quality of our education today. I wonder how many would agree that the educational structure for future massage therapists is, well, a mess.One definition of a "mess" is a chaotic and confused situation. Chaotic and confused describes massage education right now. I am confident that this mess is actually an opportunity; and one that we can no longer ignore.
It is estimated that there are approximately 1,500 massage therapy educational programs in the United States, according to an Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals survey.1 While community college programs are increasing, most of this education can be found at private vocational schools that offer many different types of training programs. There are also a couple of corporation-based, multi-campus massage school systems that have acquired various single-program massage schools and are unifying the curriculums. There are very few single-program massage schools left.
Three Components to Learning Success
As a textbook author, I have had the opportunity to communicate with many massage therapy program directors and teachers. I rarely find a teacher or school/program director that wants to deliver inadequate massage education. More commonly, school/program directors are confused about what to teach and/or have a difficult time finding qualified teachers. There are differing opinions about what a curriculum should cover, which contributes to the confusion about what to teach; and finding experienced teachers, who are also experienced massage therapists is challenging. A school can have the curriculum and the teachers but without committed students there is no education being transferred. (We will go more in-depth about students in a future article: MT November 2011 issue.)
This is the basis for the educational mess. Bottom line for learning success is all three components (a solid curriculum, skilled teachers and committed students) must be in place.
The curriculum is the easy part. Schools do not differentiate themselves by curriculum. All massage therapy instructional programs should be teaching a very similar curriculum. Schools display excellence through effective teaching of the curriculum. What to present in a massage curriculum is clearer now than ever before. The Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge (MTBOK) project has provided a platform for the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA) for entry-level massage therapists. The document is not perfect and the massage community will have to sort through their differing opinions. However, the identified KSAs for entry-level massage therapists are accurate enough to build a curriculum.
The various exams used for licensing also reflect a body of knowledge that when compared with the MTBOK show a high level of agreement. There is plenty of information on the Web. Check it out yourself:
We should also discuss an important paradigm shift in the education (curriculum) of massage therapists in the U.S. We have gone from information-based education to competency-based education. An information-based curriculum is limited since it focuses on factual content. Professional competencies are the measurable skills and abilities that identify successful massage practice. Curriculum should be competency based. Unfortunately, the tests that are used for licensing in the U.S. are based on a factual knowledge model, which then forces a school to educate in a fact-based way, since schools are measured both by accrediting bodies and state regulators on the percentage of students who pass licensing exams.
Competencies are the demonstration of application from the information received. Competencies are actually very concrete. Either the students can do what is required or they cannot. The idea of competency is not new and it is time for the U.S. massage community to adopt this method to determine the student's ability to practice massage. Multiple provinces in Canada have adopted the Entry-to-Practice Competency Profile, which defines the minimum expectations of newly registered massage therapists (who are entering practice for the first time). The Practice Competencies were validated by means of a survey of registered massage therapists in British Columbia, Ontario, and Newfoundland & Labrador. The survey confirmed that massage therapy practice is common across these provinces.2.3
Changing the Curriculum
Now, here is the messy part: changing the curriculum. It is not as simple as it seems. If a school is accredited, a curriculum change can be considered a substantive change requiring both a time and financial commitment to the accrediting body. There currently are schools that want to make the updates but are waiting until their next accreditation cycle to avoid the hassle and cost. There are similar requirements for the school's state licensing process.
Changing curriculum requires changing lesson plans, changing exams, retraining of teachers, changing program schedules, and the list goes on. This is hard enough for a single program massage school. I know since I have owned a massage school for 26 years. Can you imagine the mess in a multi-campus educational structure?
Regardless of the mess, we have to make these changes. It is hard but those who manage massage therapy educational programs have to make the hard decisions and deal with the conflict and frustration of change. I have and it is not fun. However, we as educators owe a quality education to those who seek us out to learn.
There are educational materials offered by academic publishers that cover the entry-level KSAs in the MTBOK. An effective competency based curriculum can be built using professionally created textbooks, lesson plans, presentation material and online support.
Once you have the curriculum in place, then you need the teacher. As previously stated, all educational programs for massage therapy should be teaching the same foundational curriculum. The way a school differentiates itself is how well the teachers are able to teach the information and that requires committed quality teachers. The availability of massage teachers - who are aware of the most current information and can effectively deliver that information in the classroom - is limited. Those that commit to teaching massage therapists have little support right now and that adds to the mess. Fortunately, the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education is committed to addressing these issues.
What makes a skilled massage therapy teacher? They have to know the material. They need to be able to pass the same tests the student will have to pass. Anatomy teachers need to understand massage and massage teachers need to understand anatomy and physiology. Teachers need to remain current. It is inexcusable for educator to present dated and inaccurate information. Teachers have to teach the school's curriculum – not what they think is correct. Schools and program directors must not allow inaccurate information in the classroom and they also need to provide ongoing educational opportunities for their instructors. Finally, school management must provide support for the teachers in the form of supplies, equipment, textbooks and reference material, and now electronic-based learning systems.
So here is the mess. Competency is based on experience. Experienced massage therapists should be the foundation of the instructor pool. However, these same experienced individuals must not allow their personal opinions to bias their teaching. One of the biggest problems school directors face is a teacher who will not support the curriculum. Yes, part of massage practice is an art but that art is based on the science. I listen over and over to program directors as they describe how a teacher creates confused and frustrated students because they will not present the curriculum as developed, or they disagree in the classroom with information presented by other teachers.
Just like business is business--teaching is teaching. There are skills needed to be a teacher. If we are going to rely on experienced massage therapists to be the foundation of the instructor pool, then we also need to teach them how to teach and how to use the resources available to them. Schools owners, program directors and the corporate executives must be committed to teacher training.
Teacher turnover at many schools is a huge problem. Schools invest in training teachers and then they quit. There are excuses for quitting. The most common I hear are low pay and lack of support. Committed and quality teachers will always be underpaid because they go beyond the "job description". Poor teachers are always overpaid. Teaching is a path of service. However, teachers need to be compensated enough so they can continue to teach. The other reason that teachers quit teaching is the inability to manage the student dynamics – a growing problem. The final component of learning success is the student, which we will discuss in part two.
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