Exam Wars: The Sequel

As I reported in my blogs of October 3 and October 20, 2014, FSMTB and NCBTMB reached an agreement where “…NCBTMB will no longer provide examinations for licensure purposes and will now focus exclusively on delivering quality certification programs.” That’s a direct quote from the joint press release issued by both organizations.

In the wake of this news, cheers were heard ’round the profession, as it signaled an end to the ugly and costly “exam wars” between the two organizations. In case you forgot, NCBTMB darn near bankrupted itself trying to fight the FSMTB and their upstart licensing exam. The fact is that the Federation offered the better testing solution for state massage boards, and the profession has migrated to the MBLEx – leaving NCBTMB with ever-shrinking exam revenues.

With so few people taking their rebranded National Certification exams for state licensure, NCBTMB was compelled to strike a deal with the FSMTB to throw in the towel in exchange for some amount of money. And we don’t know how much cash, because the terms have not been made public. As part of this agreement, NCBTMB said it was going to stop taking new applications for its National Certification Exams on November 1, 2014, and will cease administering these two tests on February 1, 2015.

Sounds like we’re finally moving towards the single licensing exam solution for the massage therapy profession, doesn’t it? Well, don’t head for the lobby to get your tub of buttered popcorn yet, because the next installment of Exam Wars is heating up!

NCBTMB may be bringing down the curtain on the two National Certification exams, but they are now reported to be offering their Board Certification Exam for state licensure purposes. Doesn’t that fly in the face of the agreement with FSMTB?

In October 2014, the Massage Therapy Advisory Committee of the Virginia Board of Nursing voted to accept NCB’s Board Cert exam to meet their statutory certification requirements (in place of the sunsetting National Cert exams). On December 11, 2014, the California Massage Therapy Council voted to accept NCB’s Board Cert exam, along with the MBLEx and the two NCB National Cert exams taken before 2/1/15.
If that weren’t bad enough, NCBTMB is now allowing people to take the Board Cert exam BEFORE they have met all eligibility requirements for Board Certification. Since NCBTMB is touting it as the “highest voluntary credential attainable to massage therapists and bodyworkers in the profession today”, this policy cheapens the credential. It’s already a stretch for NCBTMB to make these claims, but their use of the Board Cert exam to stay in the state licensure game is a real howler. In fact, I think it cheapens it to the point that I will not renew mine in a few days when it expires. I don’t have anything to prove. And after 15 years of practice, I am not going to spend my money to maintain a voluntary credential that is supposed to indicate you are an advanced practitioner that someone fresh out of massage school is being allowed to get. It doesn’t say anything about my knowledge and years of experience at all. It’s apparently turning into just another entry-level credential instead of what it was designed to be, and that truly distresses me.

Are NCB’s actions in violation of their agreement with FSMTB? That may have to get worked out between the attorneys for each side. Whatever the agreement actually says, we’re headed right back to the same old conflicts between FSMTB and NCBTMB. And we didn’t even have to wait long for the Sequel!

13 thoughts on “Exam Wars: The Sequel

  1. Ravensara Travillian

    “It’s apparently turning into just another entry-level credential instead of what it was designed to be, and that truly distresses me.”

    Agreed, but it’s even worse than that.

    I think it’s exactly what it’s designed to be: a marketing buzzword that sounds to other healthcare professionals as though it’s comparable to board certification in medicine or other disciplines.

    They never, ever made any effort to do the real work of doing what it takes to get an actual board certification, comparable to the way actual healthcare professions do it, in place.

    Instead, just like “energy” and “toxins” and “quantum physics” and “evidence”, we’ve gone ahead and just made up our own idiosyncratic Potemkin-village definition of what “board-certified” means.

    The world is watching while we screw around like this, and we are not using the time wisely to integrate with other professions under the PPACA.

    History is not going to be kind to us about this period.

  2. Tracy

    I cannot believe there aren’t more comments. This is a surprising development. I am thankful my state isn’t dependent upon them for licensing.

  3. Drew Hume

    This is interesting! As a CE provider this could have significant implications for me and my business, especially if more people feel the same way about the NCBTMB. Thanks for posting this, I’ll be keeping an eye open for future developments on this…

  4. Pingback: Board Certification: Just Do the Right Thing | LauraAllenMT.com

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  8. Melissa Posey

    Good blog article Laura! So stupid all these exams! Its always about more $ for NCBTMB! Haven’t they sucked enough $ from us? Good riddance to them. They sold out good! They probably got a mint of $ ! I just get so sick of all these fees they impose on us massage therapists!

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