I’ll say one thing for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork: at least they’re consistent in bending the rules.
The NCBTMB has a new Government Relations Liason, Billie Shea of Nevada. Shea has been a massage therapist for 14 years. She has previously served as the chair of the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapy, and has also served as a delegate and later as a board member on the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.
I’ve pitched a few fits recently about the NCBTMB ignoring their own bylaws and breaking their own rules, and I feel compelled to pitch one more. The NCBTMB website announcement about Shea being hired as the new Government Relations Liason states that she has been Nationally Certified for 13 years. According to several of my sources, that is not true.
She was initially certified in 2000 and renewed one time before letting her certification lapse. I contacted Shea by email yesterday to ask her how she became Board Certified since she was not currently Nationally Certified, which is one of the requirements unless you are taking the new exam, and she responded to me that she had been contacted by the NCBTMB and offered the opportunity to become Board Certified early this summer. Her response stated that she forwarded my email to the NCBTMB so they could make a response, and they have not responded.
According to the NCBTMB’s website, there are two paths to Board Certification. One of them is to take the new exam and meet the other requirements, which include 750 hours of education, passing a background check, having 250 hours of work experience, and having a current CPR certification. The other path is to be CURRENTLY Nationally Certified under their old paradigm, and meet the new requirements.
Shea isn’t the only one who has been offered this deal; in my previous blogs about massaging the rules, I reported that two other nationally known massage therapists that I have known personally for years were both offered to be “grandfathered in” to the new Board Certification, in spite of the fact that their own National Certification lapsed about 7 years ago. They both felt it was an unethical offer since it violates the rules of the NCBTMB, and declined to do it.
So, bottom line, Shea has not been Nationally Certified for 13 years as it states on their website. That certainly doesn’t mean she will do any less of a job as their GR person, and since at this point in time I am of the mindset that my own Board Certification is worth about as much as a turd in a punchbowl, it’s no big deal to me. The big deal, to me, is the dishonesty about it. Why put a PR spin on something that is not true? Shea knows it, the NCB knows it, and why is it necessary to pad her resume? She has a long record of volunteer service and it wasn’t necessary at all. For the record, my own National Certification was current, and I did meet the other requirements for Board Certification. I was prepared to take the exam and actually somewhat disappointed that they decided to grandfather the current certificants into it instead of having us take it.
I would like to know why the NCBTMB approached well-known massage therapists who have been expired for years and offered them this “opportunity” to be grandfathered in on Board Certification, and why they feel that’s an ethical practice.
It doesn’t look good when an organization puts something out there, says “here are the requirements,” and then proceeds to blow those off in some self-serving interest. And it doesn’t look good when a therapist accepts that. In fairness, there are plenty of massage therapists who don’t keep up with the rules, including in their own state, much less at the NCB. However, I don’t think Shea falls into that category. She’s been involved in the governance of massage for many years, and if the NCBTMB hired her to be the GR liason, I’m sure they have confidence in her abilities. She ought to know better, and I’m sure she does.
If they are just going to grandfather anybody and everybody who has ever been Nationally Certified, then for crying out loud, just say that up front and be done with it.
Furthermore, I have the idea that there are board members at the NCB, and perhaps even Executive Director Steve Kirin, who do not even have any knowledge of all these surreptitious activities and who would not be in support of them. Whatever else I can say about them, I know for a fact that there are some ethical people there. Apparently there are also some who are not. I would hate to think it was a board decision to put forth requirements, and then throw in the caveat that “but we can ignore these rules for the choice few when it suits our purpose.” I’d rather believe that someone there took it on themselves to act in this manner, but the fact is, it has happened and someone needs to be accountable for it. I have to refer back to that pesky problem, once again, of Improper Delegation of Authority. This is the kind of thing that happens when there is no government oversight and no public accountability.
I will agree with one thing from the NCBTMB’s website: the statement that “a higher credential is needed in the industry.” I agree wholeheartedly, and they need to get it that this is the kind of thing that minimizes the value of the very thing they are trying to promote. Certification needs to mean something. Operating in this manner assures that it does not.