Deal, or No Deal?

In my last blog, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, I reported that the only good thing that came out of the recent FSMTB Annual Meeting was the announcement that NCBTMB and FSMTB had reached an agreement on licensing exams, which promised to spell the end of the long “exam wars”. FSMTB trumpeted this news in their October 3rd press release, which stated:

“FSMTB and the NCBTMB have worked cooperatively to reach an agreement that the NCBTMB will no longer provide examinations for licensure purposes and will now focus exclusively on delivering quality certification programs. This supports the common goal of the FSMTB, Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP), American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE), for the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) to be utilized as the sole licensure exam for the profession, thus facilitating licensure portability for therapists.”

Too bad that we really can’t celebrate this news because the so-called “agreement” did not include the Approved Continuing Education Provider Program operated by NCBTMB (which 27 state massage boards use in one way or another). Like rubbing salt in the wound, the FSMTB turned right around and passed a resolution to create their very own CE approval program–as if NCBTMB didn’t exist.

It actually gets worse. I received word that at last week’s Florida Board of Massage Therapy meeting in Orlando, it was stated publicly that there was really only a “letter of intention” between the two organizations that was signed before the FSMTB Annual Meeting, and that the details of this letter would be worked out later in a formal agreement.

Now I’m no attorney, but a letter of intention is NOT the same thing as a legally-binding agreement. It’s more like putting a small deposit down on a house to get the process started, with the purchase contract and the mortgage money to come later. A lot can happen between those two steps.

So I’m confused here… is there a deal, or is it no deal? For the FSMTB to send out a national press release with the subject line “FSMTB AND NCBTMB REACH AGREEMENT” when no final document appears to have been signed, raises all kinds of red flags and ethical questions.

We never needed two competing licensing exams, and we sure as blazes don’t need two competing national CE approval programs. Looks like it’s time for the heads of these two organizations to get back to the negotiating table and work out the rest of this deal, for the benefit of the CE community and the profession as a whole.  And don’t come out until you get it settled!

9 Replies to “Deal, or No Deal?”

  1. As frustrating as this “spin” move is by FSMTB, I’m glad to hear that a final deal between NCB and FSMTB has not yet been struck. That means there’s bargaining room.

    As only organization that is specifically dedicated to representing the interests of continuing education providers, AFMTE needs to be a part of the planning and decision making process for how CE will be handled by state massage boards, and who will oversee any kind of approval process going forward.

    A few years ago, I discussed this with Alexa Zaledonis (who was NCB Chair at the time, and I was Executive Director of the Alliance). We agreed that the optimal structure would be a tripartite group consisting of FSMTB, NCB and AFMTE. Given that things are up for grabs, it’s time to take a serious look at that structure.

    NCB has been the only agency in our field that has been administering a national-level CE provider approval program — since the 1990’s. It makes perfect sense for NCB to continue to hold this function, but under the direct supervision of a collaborative entity that includes FSMTB and AFMTE.

    In this particular case, three heads are better than one.

  2. I thought, originally, that the FSMTB was going to be a good thing… Now, I see that it’s going to be even worse than the NCB folks were. Is the FSB going to be the new massage mafia?

  3. At the risk of sounding, well, blunt….is anyone else sensing that the Feeley playbook was opened and read by FSMTB? I sincerely hope that the FSMTB Board of Directors will address this, and soon. This is the type of behavior that led to the development of the FSMTB in the first place……one cannot help but wonder if another group of individuals are meeting in a conference room somewhere. Just saying.

  4. So if there is only a letter of intent and they are going to “work out the details later”, why would they be ending the NCE for licensure Oct 31? That seems like a detail too big to call “a gimme”, to borrow a term from the golf world. I’m glad they have come to this decision – it makes all the sense in the world, for both organizations and more importantly the profefession as a whole. But if the person at the FL board meeting had their facts right, and this is all built solely on a letter of intent… C’mon, NCB – get your ducks in a row.

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