MOCC Proposal: Dis-Organized Chaos

I’ve been criticizing the Maintenance of Core Competency (MOCC) proposal from the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards since the moment it landed on my radar, and I haven’t changed my mind. I think it’s a terrible plan that doesn’t serve any good purpose other than increasing the coffers of the FSMTB. In its present form, it appears to be a blatant move to put the NCBTMB out of business.

What has been interesting to me is to see the way this thing has unfolded. Right off the bat, I had some criticism of the Task Force assembled by FSMTB that supposedly got this thing together. I say supposedly, because when I saw who was on it, my first thought was “No, they couldn’t possibly have supported that.”

So here we have Immediate Past President of AMTA, Glenath Moyle, whom I know personally and like a great deal. In spite of Moyle’s presence on the Task Force, the national office of AMTA only took a few days to come out with a statement shooting more than 20 holes in the MOCC proposal. In spite of the fact that the FSMTB chose Task Force members who were supposedly representatives of their respective organizations, that apparently didn’t work too well in this case.

AMTA has never allowed an individual officer to speak for the entire organization without their board’s approval; their blanket slam of the proposal seems to indicate that they never saw the proposal prior to publication, much less given the opportunity to sign off on it. I wholeheartedly support AMTA’s condemnation of this far-fetched plan, but I didn’t like to see Ms. Moyle in a position of looking like she had egg on her face. That could have been prevented if this process had been carried out in a more transparent manner.

Then we have Pete Whitridge and Cherie Sohnen-Moe, President and Board Member, respectively, of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. Since both of these leaders are well-known continuing education providers, and represent an organization that is largely composed of CE providers and massage schools that sponsor CE, I was shocked at their support of this plan. I felt at the time, and still feel, that if the membership of the AFMTE had been polled about this plan, the consensus would be a big fat NO.

The theory that this plan will not take away business from CE providers is BS of the highest order. Since the proposal calls for newly-created education modules that the FSMTB will put on their website to be the ONLY course work required for state license renewal – with all other CE related to “professional development” becoming optional – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

The AFMTE issued a statement last week,that frankly, I feel should have been included in the proposal itself. I might have felt better about the whole thing if this was part of the original proposal. The AFMTE has suggested that they support the FSMTB contracting with the NCBTMB to administer the process of approving CE courses and providers, as that is beyond the resources and scope of most state massage therapy boards. The NCBTMB was excluded from the MOCC Task Force, which is petty politics to me. This plan affects them in a major way and they should have been included. They have expressed their willingness to work with the FSMTB, and frankly it’s the Federation that has prevented it from happening.

That doesn’t look good to me. When the NCBTMB convened a meeting of diverse stakeholders last year for the purpose of getting input into revamping their programs, they invited the FSMTB to participate. Their exclusion from the MOCC process is, I’m sure, based on the Federation’s party line, “the NCBTMB isn’t regulatory.” Big freaking deal. That is true, but they exist and for 20 years have administered the only national approval process for CE providers. AMTA, ABMP and AFMTE are not regulatory organizations and they were invited to serve on this Task Force. There were people on the Task Force from states that don’t even have any CE requirements to begin with. That dog don’t hunt, as we say in the South.

As the NCBTMB has announced their intent to sunset the existing National Certification program in favor of a post-graduate Board Certification credential, it is obvious that they are phasing themselves out of the entry-level market. At this point, they are not letting go of offering their National Certification Exams for state licensure purposes. However, that use of the cert exams is on a steady path of decline, as the MBLEx is now being used by the overwhelming majority of massage school grads. I think with some negotiation with the FSMTB, they would let it go altogether. The thing is, cooperation is only possible when both parties come to the table. The FSMTB isn’t playing nice.

There will need to be some skilled facilitation to get these organizations to look beyond their own interests, and to work together to achieve broad-based solutions. We need a single national approval program for continuing education, and our field will truly advance when there is just one entry-level exam for state licensure (instead of the current crop of five).

Every professional organization should take a lesson from some of the past troubles at the NCBTMB: all it takes is to get one or two people with a personal agenda in a position of power, and the fallout is detrimental to the organization and the profession on the whole. Board members have the responsibility of checks and balances. To those who sit on their hands and blindly follow the leader, I say get up or get off.

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