The Entry-Level Analysis Project Final Report and the Entry-Level Education Blueprint were released today, and it’s a whopper…266 pages in the Report, and 527 pages in the blueprint. Obviously, I haven’t read that all this morning. I do want to take the time to express my appreciation for the collaboration among the Coalition (ABMP, AFMTE, AMTA, COMTA, FSMTB, MTF, and NCBTMB) and to Anne Williams of ABMP in particular, for spearheading the project. Both documents were co-authored by the ELAP workgroup, which included Pat Archer, Clint Chandler, Rick Garbowski, Tom Lochhaas, Jim O’Hara, Cynthia Ribeiro, and Anne Williams.
According to the Report, at the initial meeting of the Coalition in 2011, two pressing issues were identified: the inconsistent quality, depth, and focus of entry-level massage programs, and the lack of licensure portability from state to state.
The big recommendation is that 625 hours of education are needed just to give students the core basics that they need for entry-level competency. According to the report, currently 28 states only require 500 hours; 7 require between 570 and 600, and 10 states require more than 625 hours. In my opinion only, no matter how wonderful the Blueprint, those states that already have higher standards won’t be inclined to dumb it down for the rest. New York and Nebraska, for example, both have 1000-hour requirements. I don’t see portability happening there–ever–unless every other state decides to come up to that level. However, the Report does reference a 2012 study that states the average massage program in the US is 697 hours–so maybe even in the states with the 500-hour requirement, there is a tendency to do more than required–and that’s nice.
For those schools that are less than 625 hours, this recommendation would undoubtedly increase financial costs to the owner that would have to be passed along to the student.
The shocking news, to me, is the statement that 40-50% of graduates are leaving the field within two years of graduation! I would be interested to know exactly how those figures were arrived at.The Report cites unrealistic expectations about the physical demands of massage and compensation, and the evolving life circumstances of 20-somethings. I’m personally not sure how relevant the 20-somethings are; it’s been my own experience in the past 15 years that there are as many middle-aged people (whatever that is, nowadays) that take up massage as a second career as there are young people who jump in right out of high school.
The workgroup would like to encourage everyone to pay more attention to the core curriculum than the hours. According to the document, this can serve everyone:
The Federation can use it as a guideline for the Model Practice Act
The state boards can use it in setting hours for education
The AFMTE can use it in setting teacher standards
COMTA can use it in evaluating massage and bodywork criteria for accreditation
the NCBTMB can use it for identifying entry-level vs. advanced knowledge for Board Certification
Professional membership associations can use it in shaping membership criteria
School owners, administrators and faculty can use it in validating curricula and adopting consistent learning outcomes
Potential massage therapy students, as they are deciding where to enroll.
There is, within the document, the subtopics of Eastern bodywork, TCM, concepts of qi and all the accompaniments to that, with the caveat that schools may choose to integrate that according to their own philosophy. The focus is on the application of Shiatsu, tui na and Thai massage, which I will not argue the efficacy of, without personally buying into the theory behind them. I’m not going to have this argument here because it wears me out, and frankly, I’m outnumbered.
There is no doubt that a huge amount of work went into this project. Personally, I gave a lot of feedback on it during the calls for comments that happened some months ago, as did several other educators I know. I wasn’t crazy about this idea when it was initially introduced, and I was further distressed by the way the review and comment process was set up…I didn’t think it was good to have such a piecemeal approach to it, but in reality, I feel that the chance that many more people would have responded to the whole thing is probably relatively slim…it would have been just as long in any case. Anne Williams stated during one of the presentations on it that I attended last year that it isn’t perfect, but what is? I sincerely do commend everyone who gave of their time and effort on this huge undertaking. I plan to say more about it after I’ve read every page.
I spent last weekend in toasty Tucson, AZ at the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education annual meeting, and for the third year in a row since this organization started, it was one of the best things I have ever attended. There were quite a few new people attending this year, and attendance was up slightly from last year. The meeting was held at the El Conquistador resort, a beautiful venue with gorgeous mountain and desert views. I was late getting there and unfortunately missed the opening ceremony and the keynote presentation by Benny Vaughn, which I heard was fantastic.
As usual, there were great continuing education offerings…I attended Tracy Walton’s class on “Busting Myths and Critical Thinking Skills,” which was informative and entertaining, and I heard nothing but praise from attendees of the other classes, which included offerings by Stephanie Beck, Martha Brown Menard, Susan Beam, Cherie Sohnen-Moe, Terrie Yardly-Nohr, Nancy Dail, Pat Benjamin, and Ben Benjamin. Bear in mind, these classes aren’t your average CE class–they are directed at massage therapy educators. When these great teachers weren’t teaching a class, they could be found attending someone else’s class. That is one of the most wonderful things about this gathering to me; it is attended by some of the most well-respected and well-known educators in this profession–and they all have the attitude that they’re not finished learning. Kudos to every one of them.
Nancy Dail organized a “Meet the Authors” gathering, and it was amazing. I was humbled to be included in such awesome company. I doubt if I can name all these people in the correct order in the picture so I won’t even try. Mark Beck was out of the room when the picture was taken but he was present as well. The group included (in alphabetical order) Timothy Agnew, Sandra K. Anderson, Pat Archer, Ben Benjamin, Pat Benjamin, Andrew Biel, Celia Bucci, Iris Burman, Nancy Dail, Sandy Fritz, Julie Goodwin, Martha Menard-Brown, Carole Osborne, David Palmer, Cherie Sohnen-Moe, Ralph Stephens, Tracy Walton, and Terrie Yardley-Nohr. Also absent was David Lauterstein, who had an airline travel nightmare, but his book was present along with the others authored by these amazing people. I don’t know when I have ever seen such talent present in one room.
All the major organizations had representatives in attendance, with the exception of ABMP. I’m not sure if they were making a statement by not showing up or not. I had actually spoken to Bob Benson, the Chairman of ABMP, a few days before the meeting and asked him if they would be in attendance, and he did not make any mention of political reasons for staying away…of the likely candidates that would have attended, several were on vacation, one was attending a family wedding and so forth. Still, their absence was notable, no matter what the reason. AMTA, the FSMTB, and COMTA were all in attendance. There was also chair massage offered at the meeting to benefit the Massage Therapy Foundation, and thanks to the efforts of Taya Countryman who organized that effort, over $900 was raised for the Foundation.
Elections were held, and the standing officers were all re-elected. Two new board seats were also added. The AFMTE Board has let go of their management company and are handling it themselves, and the two new board members are needed to help with the many tasks of the organization. Stephanie Beck and Heather Piper were elected as members-at-large. I agreed to serve on the marketing committee….I don’t do boards anymore of any kind, since that would interfere with my blogging, or at least the perception thereof, but I’m glad to serve the organization on this committee.
Breakout sessions were held to discuss numerous topics of interest to educators, including all the various projects that are going on at the moment, not the least of which is the Teacher Education Standards Project. Other breakout sessions were to talk about the MOCC proposal from the FSMTB, the new policies announced by the NCBTMB, and other issues facing the profession. There weren’t any formal votes in any of the discussions I sat in on, but a number of people I talked to all said the same thing–that there are a lot of duplicated efforts going on, which is a waste of time and resources. John Weeks, Executive Director of ACCAHC, also gave a keynote address where he stated that we have a tendency to get ourselves trapped in whirlpools–and how much influence we could have because of our sheer numbers, if we would just get out of them.
On a personal note, I had a big fat time socializing with so many friends and making a few new ones. I had dinner the first night with Julie Onofrio, Kathleen Gramzay, and Karen Hobson. I met with Mike Noble, the new acquisitions editor at Lippincott, and Shauna Kelley, their marketing manager, for dinner on Friday night to discuss a couple of projects, and Saturday night, I had a blast with the team from Massamio and a bunch of other friends–both FB friends and the real variety. I went to lunch one day with Allissa Haines and Gregory Hurd…we went sneaking out to the In-and-Out-Burger for a junk food fix. I spent a couple of hours talking with Ryan Hoyme (aka The MassageNerd), and just in general enjoyed myself and enjoyed seeing everyone. I tried to sit with someone different at every meal and every class so I could visit with as many people as possible, and wish I could have personally talked to everyone there. I did have a few good but short conversations, with Sandy Fritz, Sue Toscano, Susan Beck, Mark Beck, and other good folks. As usual, there just weren’t enough hours in the day.
The biggest thanks, and deservedly so, goes to Cherie Sohnen-Moe. Tucson is Cherie’s home town, and she really went over and beyond the call of duty in helping to organize the event. She’s probably ready for a vacation!
I urge you to join the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. We are hoping to accomplish some great things, and we need your expertise and your input. We are a non-profit organization and of course donations are welcomed, but what we’d really like is your membership fee–AND your participation. We want and appreciate active members! There are a lot of things going on in our profession right now, as I have reported right here. We need to be sure that education evolves in a way that serves the highest good of the profession, in total transparency, and that our membership gets plenty of input. That’s one thing that is very evident about this group of people–they do want to hear what the members think….and here we have some of the best and brightest minds in the business. You could almost get star-struck at this meeting–but there is not a standoffish person in the bunch. Don’t wait until the next meeting; join us now, and get involved. If you are an educator, school owner, administrator, or industry partner, we need you. And I’m going to shamelessly use the same quote that I used from Jan Schwartz at last year’s meeting: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
Last week, the leaders of all the major organizations representing the massage therapy profession came together in St. Louis for a Massage Therapy Leadership Summit.
I have personally prayed for this to happen for a long time, and was thrilled that it took place. Rick Rosen, Executive Director of the AFMTE, shared this photo on my Facebook page. I of course spread it through my networks, and it prompted a question from Julie Onofrio: “Are these people massage therapists, and have they ever been in practice?” I’ll try to answer that to the best of my ability. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting all these folks, and I know some of them better than others. In the event I get any of the facts wrong here, I’m sure someone can straighten me out!
I will say up front that as for the most part these are organizations that have many members, huge budgets, and myriad issues and details to take care of, I don’t believe that being a massage therapist is a prerequisite for being a CEO or an ED. That is a position that generally requires a college education, and enough expertise to run a multi-million dollar concern. The AFMTE is only two years old–they don’t quite fall into that category yet, but they will someday. Leadership of such an organization doesn’t necessarily require one to be a massage therapist, although it would certainly require an interest in massage. Here’s my scoop on the leaders:
Rick Rosen, the founder and Executive Director of the AFMTE is indeed a licensed massage therapist. In fact, he is the proud owner of the first massage therapy license issued in the state of North Carolina. He is the co-founder, along with his wife Carey Smith, of the Body Therapy Institute in Siler City, NC, which they started in 1983. It is one of only two COMTA-approved schools in the state. He was the founding chairman and a past member of the North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy, and was the first Executive Director of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. He currently serves as Executive Director of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, a national organization for massage schools, teachers and continuing education providers. Rick is a 2010 inductee into the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame, and was named as one of the Top 10 People in Integrative Medicine/Integrative Health Care in 2010. He also has a degree in advertising from the University of Florida, a master’s in humanistic psychology from West Georgia College, is certified by the Hakomi Institute body-centered psychology, is certified in structural integration, and is a graduate of the Florida School of Massage.
Pete Whitridge, the President of the AFMTE, has been a massage therapist since 1987 and has been an instructor at the Florida School of Massage since 1989. He has served AMTA on the Council of Schools, served 5 years on the Florida Board of Massage including being the Chair, served COMTA as a reviewer, has also served on the faculty of the Spacecoast Health Institute for 14 years, and Indian River Community College for 7 years. He is also on the Education Committee of the Massage Therapy Foundation. Pete also has a BA in History and Political Science.
Shelly Johnson, Executive Director of AMTA, served as the Deputy Director for 8 years before being named ED in 2010 after the departure of Elizabeth Lucas. Shelly is not a massage therapist, but she has worked with associations for 22 years, including the American Society for Quality. She also was previously Executive Director for the American Society of Neuroscience Nurses, the American Board of Neuroscience Nursing, the Neuroscience Nursing Foundation and the American Society for Healthcare Materials Management of the American Hospital Association. Johnson has a BA in Political Science and Communication from Augsburg College.
Glenath Moyle, President of AMTA, gets the longevity award in this crowd! Glenath has been doing massage for more than 50 years. In her first career, she was a geriatric nurse, and massaging patients was a regular part of her routine. She attended massage school in Portland OR and started practicing in earnest in 1987. Prior to becoming the President of the national organization, Moyle was a tireless volunteer in her state chapter. Needless to say, she’s very excited that the national convention is coming to her hometown this year.
Bob Benson, the Chair of ABMP, is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School. Prior to coming to ABMP, Benson worked in public policy in Washington, DC, and spent 19 years as President of two public companies. The membership of ABMP has grown by more than 10 times over since Benson came on the scene. He was the catalyst for the creation of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, notably funding that organization to get it off the ground, and he worked for nine years to get statewide regulation in California, where he now serves on the board of the California Massage Therapy Council.
Les is More! Les Sweeney, President of ABMP, joined the organization in 1994 after learning about association management at the Club Managers Association of America. He served as VP from 1999-2006. Sweeney has an MBA from the University of Colorado. In 2006, Les decided to step up to the plate and get an education in massage! He graduated from the Holistic Learning Center in Evergreen and became Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage. Les has expressed to me personally that he just wanted to know more about massage and get the “real feel” for what ABMP members do. Good for him for taking the plunge and investing in that.
Kate Zulaski is the Executive Director of COMTA. She has a BA in Geology, and attended the Institute for Psycho-Structural Balancing in CA, and went on to become the Dean of Education at the school before joining COMTA in 2009.
Kate has in-depth experience both as a massage therapy practitioner as well as an educator, having most recently served as Dean of Education from 2006 to 2009 for the International Professional School of Bodywork (IPSB) in San Diego, California. Prior to being named Dean of Education, Zulaski also served as an IPSB Massage Instructor and Clinic Supervisor. Zulaski has also studied a variety of bodywork modalities through the California Naturopathic College; Society of Ortho-Bionomy International; the Natural Healing Institute; and the International Professional School of Bodywork. She has been active in volunteer work for the AMTA Teacher of the Year Awards Committee and the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education Standards Committee, and is a long-time member of the ABMP.
Randy Swenson, a COMTA Commissioner who was also present, is a chiropractor. Dr. Swenson is currently a tenured professor and Dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences at National University of Health Sciences (NUHS). He developed the Massage Therapy Program in 1999 and continues to manage the day-to-day operations of the program. He is also responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree completion and professional pre-requisite programs. He was previously the Academic Dean and the Dean of Curriculum Development for the chiropractic program at NUHS. He holds a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from NUHS and a Master of Health Professions Education from the Department of Medical Education of the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has led NUHS Steering Committees for Higher Learning Commission Self-Study Reports (SSR) and Commission on Chiropractic Education SSR’s. He has led and written COMTA SSR’s for the NUHS massage program. Dr. Swenson has been a site-team member, site-team leader and off-site peer reviewer with COMTA since 2006.
Ruth Werner, fearless leader of the Massage Therapy Foundation, is the author of the Guide to Pathology for Massage Therapists and the Disease Handbook for Massage Therapists, both published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Werner is a graduate of the Brian Utting School of Massage in Seattle in 1985, and completed the Advanced Training Program and Teacher Training Program with the Muscular Therapy Institute in Cambridge, MA in 1991. I’ve attended a couple of classes (a definite privilege!) taught by Ruth, where she honestly shared with the class that she feels her real talent is sharing research about massage rather than actually doing massage. We’d all be a lot worse off if that wasn’t so. Her pathology book has been my go-to source from the moment I entered massage school. She has taught curriculum at 4 massage schools and continuing education classes all over the world.
Debra Persinger, Executive Director of the FSMTB, has a PhD in human services from Kansas State University. Dr. Persinger, a native of New Zealand, joined the National Certifying Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) in 1996. Before accepting the position of interim CEO, she served as the commission’s executive director of operations, and was originally hired to be its director of examination development. Persinger is also co-author of Sand to Sky: Conversations with Teachers of Asian Medicine (iUniverse, 2008).
Paul Lindamood, current CEO of the NCBTMB, has more than 20 years of executive-level experience. Lindamood has devoted his career to positioning, directing and promoting associations, professional firms, healthcare organizations, businesses and non-profits. In fact, it was in this capacity that he first began working with NCBTMB, directing the organization’s communications, public relations, media and re-branding strategies. He has worked with a wide-range of healthcare and non-profit organizations and led successful branding, fundraising, recruitment and consumer awareness initiatives for American Red Cross, United Way, International Association of Business Communicators, Jobs for Graduates, Leukemia Society of America, March of Dimes, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, City of Hope, Hospice, Junior Achievement, Small Business Administration, and many others.
Alexa Zaledonis, Chair of the NCBTMB, is the owner/operator of Even Keel Wellness Spa, a therapeutic massage and skin care center in Annapolis, Maryland. A graduate of the Baltimore School of Massage, she passed the NCE in 2002 and has spent the past seven years building her practice in the community. Zaledonis is a certified Lotus Palm Thai Yoga Massage practitioner and a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Strength Professionals Association. Zaledonis currently is completing her Yoga Teacher Training (RYT200). She also teaches Thai Massage seminars at Even Keel Institute for Continuing Education and is an NCBTMB-approved provider.
A former Certified Public Accountant, Zaledonis specialized in healthcare and nonprofit organizations for more than 15 years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut. I spoke to Zaledonis earlier today, and she told me that in addition to working 40 hours a week on behalf of the NCBTMB, she also personally does an average of 17 massages a week. A fellow workaholic!
Well, folks, there you have it. So yes, many of these folks do have actual massage experience. And those that don’t have been around this business long enough to appreciate those of us who do. They have all, in my opinion, served the massage profession with the best of intentions and keeping their eyes on the fact that it is the massage therapists in the trenches that they are working for. May they all enjoy peace and prosperity.