The 3 R’s: Research, Regulation, and Raising Standards

Yesterday, I had shared on my FB a post from Ruth Werner, President of the Massage Therapy Foundation, entitled “Who Needs Research Literacy?. I commented on that that all massage schools need to ramp it up and start including research literacy as part of their core curriculum.

That garnered a comment from a fellow massage therapist that schools wouldn’t start teaching it unless there was a regulatory requirement that they do. I hope that isn’t true.

I think the MTF has been doing a great job of spreading the word in the massage community. And there are so many industry supporters as well. The MTF transcends politics, as I have said before. The AMTA, ABMP, and NCBTMB all contribute. Massage Warehouse, Massage Envy, Biofreeze, and others have done a lot to raise money and raise awareness. I blab about it a lot myself on my blog and to my networks.

Research literacy does not imply that we expect massage schools to start teaching advanced statistics or turn out the next Tiffany Field. According to Ruth’s post, research literacy means being able to:

1. Find a pertinent article

2. Read and understand it

3. Critically evaluate its credibility

4. Apply findings to practice

5. And if you’re really paying attention, come up with some more questions to ask about it…

Why would any school wait for regulation to force the issue of raising standards, in the interest of improving the education of students, which in this case could potentially have such effects as raising the credibility and profile of massage therapy in general, not to mention giving their therapists a leg up in their career? Physicians are impressed by research. Research benefits clients; any time a therapist has more knowledge of a condition they’re presented with, that applies directly to their practice in the planning of treatment and client education.

Research literacy can increase the marketability and prosperity of the massage therapist. I’ve been offering a CE class in “Using Research to Market Your Massage Therapy Practice” recently, and the prevailing comment from students is “I never thought about using research until now.” My class surveys show that hardly anyone attending my classes had been introduced to research literacy in massage school.

My colleague said verbal admonitions and challenges wouldn’t spur schools to pick up the cause of teaching research literacy, and I hope to prove him wrong. I urge you right now, if you’re a school owner or director, to start including it in your program, and don’t wait for regulation that may never come. It isn’t about regulation; it is about you voluntarily raising the standards in your corner of the world.

The Massage Therapy Foundation has help available. If you are with a school and you’re interested in the Teaching Research Literacy program, click here:

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