Continuing Education Providers: Sink or Swim

Every time I turn around, it seems that something is on the horizon that affects CE providers–and the therapists who are obligated to get CE in order to maintain their license.  The latest salvo has been fired from the state of Maryland, where legislation is afoot with big changes in the CE environment. According to the Maryland Chapter of AMTA, the proposed regulations mean that NCBTMB-Approved Providers can no longer offer classes in Maryland unless they have been pre-approved by the Maryland Board of Chiropractic and Massage Therapy Examiners at least 90 days in advance; CE offered by community colleges and online classes will be subject to the same rules, and providers will have to pay $25 per course unit for approval. CE hours earned at AMTA conferences won’t fly unless they have been pre-approved and the fees paid. This is going to be voted on this coming week and the MD Chapter has been making a big effort to drum up enough support to kill the changes. If you haven’t weighed in yet, you’ve got until the 18th of January to call your legislators and protest. Every time something like this happens, I get a lot of email from people asking me what they can do about it. The short answer is do it right now–don’t wait until the bill is passed to complain. You can send your comments and questions to vallonej@dhmh.state.md.us

As a provider myself, there are certain states I’ve never visited because of the hoops you have to jump through. New York, as I reported last year, requires a fat fee of $900 to be a provider, and a New York-licensed massage therapist has to perform the hands-on portion of any CE training. I don’t pretend to hold myself in the same class as Erik Dalton or Ben Benjamin, but it does seem strange to me that someone with a PhD can’t perform the hands-on portion of their own class unless they have gotten themselves licensed in NY.

If you want to be a provider in the state of Texas, you must get yourself pre-approved, reapply and pay a $200 fee every two years. I just looked at their list and there are 549 providers currently approved there. That’s a tidy chunk of change for their board.

Florida also has their own process. I got their approval last year, and while it didn’t cost me any money, I did find their process a little confusing to go through. I actually sent them $250 because I thought I had to after muddling through their directions for applying. My money was refunded.

The Chair and Vice Chair of the North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy reported upon their return from attending the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards meeting in 2010 that the Federation was investigating the possibility of approving continuing education. Recently, the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education has also been making noises about national teacher standards as well. Alexa Zaledonis, the new Chair of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, has also put up a statement on the NCB website that they are about to undertake new initiatives in the CE provider program.

The opportunity for continuing education here in North Carolina is so competitive, it’s almost overwhelming. We have about 8000 active licensees, and 145  CE providers who live in the state…that doesn’t count the folks who are traveling in from elsewhere to teach. If you only count the ones who actually live here, that breaks down to 55 students per provider per renewal period, so if you’re wondering why it seems to get tougher to attract students, basically it’s because there’s a CE provider on every corner. While some students will seek you out because of what you teach or who you are, there are hundreds of others who are just looking for the closest class so they don’t have to travel, or the cheapest class they can get due to their finances, or they’ve procrastinated so that they just take the first thing that comes along when it’s time (or past time) to renew.

I love teaching. It isn’t my primary source of income, but it’s important to me to get that interaction. I feel energized after I’ve spent the day in a class with a bunch of people who actually care about learning something.

The CE river is rolling along, the water is getting pretty muddy, and we’re all going to have to sink or swim.



ADDENDUM: After I finished this blog, MK Brennan brought to my attention the following post from the MD Board:At its General Session Meeting of 1/13/2011, the Board of Chiropractic & Massage Therapy Examiners announced that it would forthwith withdraw from the rulemaking proposal Chapter 16 (Recordkeeping) and Chapter 20 (Continuing Education) pending further review and study. Both of these chapters were contested in comments received to date. This means that Chapters 16 and 20 will not be processed further in the current rulemaking proposal.

When further review and study of Chapters 16 and 20 is scheduled, details shall be posted on this website and in the Maryland Register.

That is the best demonstration of what can happen when MTs rise up and take ACTION! Legislators are forced to LISTEN! Kudos to Maryland Chapter of AMTA and all the MTs who protested this move!



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