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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14 thoughts on “MOCC Proposal: Dis-Organized Chaos

  1. Emmanuel

    AMTA has a history of rejecting new ideas before it eventually turns around and accepts them when it sees that they work, so I would not put much faith in their current position – just give it a couple years and they will turn around.

    Some of the 20 so-called “holes” that they make on the proposal don’t even make sense. Take this one for example: “The proposed program would take away the freedom of choice of massage therapists to determine their own practice focus and to choose the CE providers they prefer”.
    If anything, the proposed program gives therapists more freedom than they have today in pursuing whatever continuing education they want, as long as basic competencies are met.

    I don’t think anyone can hold FSMTB accountable for NCBTMB’s state of affairs. The NCB has managed to do that on their own. Even the meeting where all the organizations got together, how did the NCB play nice? They came out after the meeting and said that they will not change anything they were doing – totally rigid and lacking any sort of vision, and digging themselved even more in the hole. They are indeed trying to change now and the new leadership deserves kudos. This can be an excellent opportunity for them to be a player in approving CEUs in the context of specialized certification paths.

    The MOCC proposal will ensure that therapists meet certain competencies when they renew their license, consistent with the states’ role of protecting the public. It is a great idea and many progressive thinkers in the profession support it.

  2. Gina

    Thank you Laura for a clear, unbiased account of the “shenanigans” that go on in our field. At a time when so many people are struggling to maintain their PRIVATE practices, in expensive cities like NYC, I find all these arbitrary requirements nothing but a means TO FILL SOMEONE”S POCKET WITH $$$$$$.

    I don’t have the luxury of going to work and letting someone else pay for my continuing education, either in time or dollars – which, when you work for yourself, is the same thing.

    As to Emmanuel’s comment – BASIC COMPETENCIES should be met in the state’s requirement for massage schools – which should be the same within all states. A minimum of 800-1000 clock hours could certainly fulfill such basic core competencies. And if it does not – well someone needs to examine why certain schools are failing to fulfill those basic requirements. That is where a collaboration of State’s would be useful.

    As to the MOCC’s proposal “giving therapists more freedom than they have today ……” – I am sorry but I disagree. I do not want any “board” deciding what courses I need to take. I am in a highly specialized practice of “dance injury rehabilitation”…….. I have spent 17 years in this field and I know what I am doing, and have beyond core competencies and don’t want someone who doesn’t even “practice as a therapist” telling me “what courses I need!”

    I wholly disapprove of the MOCC proposal, and have written to say so.

  3. Diana

    I’m a newly licensed LMT (2 years) and the main issue I have with the MOCC is that they clearly intend to create standards of CE across the board for all LMT’s. If they intend that the standards should be high, those standards should be met at the initial school level, NOT at the CE level. I do not want to go back to being a student with a set curriculum; I want autonomy.

    I cannot support any organization or plan that wishes to take away my freedom of choice. They should work solely to unify initial school curriculum across the country and not affect LMT’s AT ALL.

  4. Tracy@TheComfortZone

    I disagree with the first comment. Taking CE in BASIC COMPETENCIES every single renewal cycle takes valuable $$$ and time away from me. I’m 9 years in, I have basic knowledge of how to protect the public. Refreshers with ethics, technology, and things like that would be great. But forcing me to take basic classes yearly from the same people would definitely limit my time and $ to explore techniques, business classes, etc. Sorry, but I agree with Laura on this one.

  5. Matthew Pardini

    I personally agree with Laura Allen on this. And I second Tracy’s commentary and disagreement with the first comment.

    From what I gather, this is essentially regulated deregulation. The motive for this cannot be to address the problems that the massage therapy industry faces because it doesn’t correct any standing issues that massage therapists contend with. What it does address is the contentious political issue of governmental regulations on professions and vocations. This is straight out of the books of the conservative political philosophy of small government and local over federal authority.

    I was originally distressed to see Hawaii was not a part of FSMTB. Now it appears that this may work in our favor if this ludicrous proposal ever takes effect (which I don’t think it will).

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