CE Providers React to NCBTMB’s New Approval Plan

In the past couple of weeks since the NCBTMB unveiled their new plan for CE providers, which includes doing away with organizational approval, the reaction of providers has for the most part been very negative–and frankly I’m not surprised. The long-standing organizations who are providing quality continuing education approved feel, for the most part, that the organization they have supported for many years is throwing them under the bus.

Some of the main concerns that I  have heard are from providers who have created proprietary classes and who have trained and approved their own instructors to go out and teach their work. They are now faced with the instructors that they have invested time and money in training and marketing classes for going out on their own, taking copyrighted teaching manuals and proprietary handouts with them, and acting as if they are under no obligation pay the percentage or per-student charge that they have agreed to pay as teaching members of the organizations. Those same instructors who have been mentored and marketed under our organizations are now saying “we’ll just be out on our own after 2014.” They are making it clear that they feel free to take our proprietary materials away with them—because the new rules are basically blessing that—and never give the organization that put them where they are another dime.

Those who have organizational approval do not want unqualified people teaching for their organizations and misrepresenting their good names, and have gone to considerable effort and expense to make sure that is not the case. While there is certainly nothing wrong with requiring us to provide proof of that, taking all instructors from under our organizational umbrella and putting them out there on their own is also going to create logistical nightmares. The organization has been responsible for collecting and maintaining registration forms, evaluation forms, etc. and issuing CE. In the case of Upledger, for example, now instead of one organization handling those administrative tasks, there will be more than 100 separate instructors keeping up with that. The organization will have no control and no more quality assurance that they will be able to exercise.

The organizations and schools that sponsor CE workshops at the national, state, and local levels will suffer from these changes as well. This is also financially crippling and over-burdensome to smaller organizations who may not teach that many classes each year. When it comes to education, quality and quantity are not the same thing.

The notion that having people turn in all their lesson plans as proof that they are a competent teacher is also flawed. My publisher hires me to write lesson plans all the time to go with their textbooks and for career schools who want customized plans. I’ve written at least 20 this year alone. If you have the money to hire me, I will write one for you. It still will not make you a competent teacher. A well-written lesson plan doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’re a great teacher; it indicates that you are either a competent writer, or that you hired someone like me to write it for you. Requiring people to send in a video of themselves teaching would be more indicative of whether or not they are competent, since the organization obviously cannot afford to vet every class in person.

In response to the outcry since the NCBTMB announced the plan, they have stated that they will consider some of these issues on a case-by-case basis. I would like to know how they plan to carry that out with volunteers—volunteers whose qualifications to judge us we have no knowledge of, as they are not releasing the names of the people on that committee. Are they experienced educators? Are they trained in teaching methodology? Are the research literate? We don’t know; we can only hope so.

I find it necessary to bring up that the reason the NCBTMB changed from vetting individual classes years ago was because the task became too overwhelming for the paid staff to handle and getting volunteers together to do it caused the process to move at the pace of molasses. It is unacceptable for someone to wait six months—as has been common at several points in time—to get their approval or denial. It is very apparent from the latest 990 filing that the NCBTMB cannot afford to hire new staff and that they will indeed be depending on volunteers until such time as this might generate enough money to enable that. This is one of the service problems that has come very close to knocking this organization to its knees in the past, and they do not need to go backwards instead of forward.

Considering things on a “case-by-case” basis also leaves this organization open to accusations of favoritism, if not worse. The massage community is a tight-knit and close community, in spite of the fact that there are thousands of us. Those of us who are organizational providers tend to attend the same events, and travel in the same circles. What you allow for one, you must allow for all. To do otherwise is simply unethical and unprofessional, and the first time it comes to light, and it certainly will, that any consideration given to one has not been given to all, it is going to be another public relations nightmare for the NCBTMB. I don’t think they can stand to have many more of those.

Let’s look at a few facts.

There are currently a half dozen states with their own CE approval process. The NCBTMB is not the only game in town…and it is that same complacency of thinking that has resulted in the FSMTB kicking their butt with the MBLEx. I would not fall into the mistake of thinking that the Federation isn’t willing to step up and do something about CE approval as well. They may seize upon the dissatisfaction of the current environment; they already have the infrastructure, and big cash reserves at their disposal. The Federation doesn’t “need” the money, and the perception here from providers is that the NCBTMB is trying to bail themselves out of the red with this plan.

There is no evidence to support that regulation, including requiring CE, has contributed to the safety of the public. There have always been unethical and incompetent practitioners, and for that matter unethical and/or incompetent CE providers, and they will continue to exist, regardless of the amount of rules and regulations. Look at how things stand in other professions. There are 17 states that don’t require nurses to obtain CE. There are 10 states that don’t require PTs to obtain CE. Even MDs have 7 states that don’t require them to obtain CE—but all three of these professions are licensed in all 50 states.

Other than the 30 or so of us (including myself) who were present at the meeting the NCBTMB convened in Chicago to discuss this issue a couple of years ago, there has been no attempt to gather the input of the (hundreds of) providers that are currently under the auspices of the NCBTMB.  I believe this organization is in need of our support, not our animosity and distress.

I urge them to abandon this plan, and gather input from a much broader slice of the profession before considering such drastic measures again.

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