Caught Between Hubris and The Grudge

All the talk in recent weeks of the “fiscal cliff” and the refusal of the Republicans and the Democrats to play nice together in the interest of the highest common good reminds me of the current situation between the NCBTMB and the FSMTB.

The NCB is operating from hubris (not to mention cluelessness), as they continue to put forth wrong-headed initiatives for the field. The latest plan to do away with organizational approval for CE providers is just the latest in a stream of missteps from the organization. They rolled that sudden announcement out like it was the best thing since sliced bread, and providers are choking on it. The application to become an approved provider has been totally removed from their website in the last day or two. I think they might be revisiting some of that plan in response to the unfavorable reception, which has included rumblings of boycotting the organization.

FSMTB is doing their own thing with the MBLEx well enough–in fact, extremely well, but when it comes to dealing with NCBTMB, it appears that the leadership of the FSMTB would rather see the organization fail than lift a hand to help them. They appear to be bearing a huge grudge over the way NCB has treated the Federation, and their unwillingness to move beyond that is stopping progress at the whole-profession level.

In case you’re uninformed, the NCBTMB has had their exam removed in a few states, and they have successfully legally challenged and won those challenges. That doesn’t sit well with the Federation, who would like to see the MBLEx as the only exam for entry-level massage licensing.

The NCB needs to get out of the entry-level exam business, in my opinion, but they can’t afford to right now. I believe they were depending on the increased revenue from the new requirement of CE course approvals to be the cash cow that would bail them out and make them financially viable again. The problem is that it’s unfair and unreasonable to put this burden on the backs of the CE provider community that is already challenged in so many ways.

FSMTB could provide that bridge through a transfer agreement and compensation package, which would resolve the “Exam Wars” once and for all. That type of action is not without precedent; it has happened in other licensed professions when it became apparent that it was time to evolve into a more streamlined process for the good of all concerned, including licensees.

It’s insane for FSMTB to even be meeting about building its own CE approval program, which they are in fact doing, when it would create more problems than it would solve. If these two organizations would sit down and hammer out such an agreement, the NCBTMB could remain the administrator of a dialed-back CE registry program, which state boards could reference, and which could finally serve as the one unified solution that the CE provider community has been needing. If the Federation jumps into the fray with yet another approval program and persuade the states to accept that, it will take but a few short years for them to put the NCBTMB out of business once and for all, which I would prefer not to see happen.

It’s time to put the hubris and the grudge and the egos aside and come to the table. The board members of both of these organizations have the power to make that happen. Your directors serve at your discretion and you ought to remember that you are not there to blindly follow the leader. A meeting of the minds is not possible when a meeting hasn’t taken place. If I were serving on either of these boards, I would be making the motion to sit down together and come to an agreement that will serve the profession on the whole.


11 Replies to “Caught Between Hubris and The Grudge”

  1. I wholeheartedly agree! I want the NCBTMB to have its appropriate place — which is advanced certification (as in its name) and the approval of CE providers. I see the value in both organizations and I like the people in both organizations. I would love for them to come to some type of agreement and would be willing to help make that occur.

  2. I have a vested interest in wanting them to survive…I have always maintained my National Certification, intended to have the new Board Certification, and really would prefer to keep dealing with them for AP/CE status instead of going through yet more changes with the FSMTB. I know that there are good people at this organization and yet in the past few years it has been one train wreck after another.

  3. Well it is no secret how I feel about the situation.I agree with Laura and Cherie. On the NCBTMB web site I have found that the NCBTMB is changing the status of what they are now calling licensing exams and have reduced the exam to 125 questions just like the MBLEX. Competition is not a bad thing but this infighting is not competition.

  4. To strike a deal, it takes a willing seller and an interested buyer. In this situation with NCBTMB and FSMTB, we have neither. The problem lies not with the 80,000 certificants that comprise NCB, nor with the 42 state massage boards that make up the Federation. It comes down to a very few people at the top of each of these non-profit organizations who call the shots — and their refusal to do the right thing for the greater good of the massage therapy profession.

    The Federation may be justified in harboring bad feelings about NCB’s multi-million-dollar campaign to kill off the MBLEx — and NCB may still be miffed that FSMTB came into town and knocked it off the very cushy and powerful position it had created for itself.

    Tough beans on both counts. The rest of massage therapy profession does not have the luxury of tolerating such obstinate behavior. We need these major stakeholder organizations to start working together — immediately. We need shared solutions that will give the field greater consistency and that will honestly reflect the status quo while looking towards improving the quality of massage education and practice.

    I’m reminded of the African proverb: “When two elephants fight, only the grass gets trampled.” It’s time for all those who are affected by NCB and FSMTB to shake the tree and compel their leaders to put aside their differences and forge new and more productive working relationships.

  5. The NCBTMB has always been incompetent in its ability to provide a rational and efficient registration process. Therefore, the provider market has been stunted and a lot of good ideas have not gained wider recognition. There are very few benefits for a CE provider, there is a lot of red tape and the instructions are often poorly presented leading to constant corrections and changes. The NCBTMB further complicates the process by continually changing the process.

    If they offered a streamlined online interface that made it easy to register courses (and included institutional registration) they could generate more traffic and increase the future opportunities for providers as well as participants. There is a really good possibility that they will put themselves out of business.

  6. Well said Everyone
    How nice it would be if the people at the top of the trees would look down to see the destruction they are creating below.
    The interesting question is how do we shake the tree hard enough for them to actually listen to the stakeholders?
    There is enough space for everyone to succeed without trampling on the other to be on top.
    I would like to see the organizations be able to learn and let go of the past, instead of harboring bad feelings and loosing touch of the future.
    “Together we can do so much, alone we can do little.” -Hellen Keller

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