The Alliance For Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE) intends to be an organization that works collaboratively to bring major stakeholders together. The current Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) and National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) press releases demonstrate that these organizations are shifting and calibrating themselves so that we can be a full-fledged profession.

AFMTE has been asked to comment on the FSMTB Maintenance of Core Competency (MOCC) Proposal by some of its members. These comments are intended for members and the entire profession. The AFMTE supports recommendations 1 and 2, but has major concerns about 3.

Here are some of the biggest concerns the alliance is hearing:

1. Continuing education (CE) providers are saying “the state boards are going to stop requiring CE hours and that therapists won’t take classes.”

This is a legitimate concern. The AFMTE thinks many therapists would not keep up with contemporary developments in the field, and that this could degrade the overall quality of massage. This could also impact public safety.

2. What is “no fail testing” in the MOCC proposal?

This type of assessment allows for people to take a test and if they pass the questions, then that’s it. If they miss a question, then they will be presented with content about that topic until they demonstrate that they understand the content and answer the question correctly.

3. People are expressing concerns about the cost of this additional assessment.

Costs will probably be nominal to cover fees associated with the development of the materials, costs of technology and maintenance of records. Hopefully, these costs will be shared by the boards as part of the fees they already collect for license renewals.

The MOCC proposal was created as a way to move the state boards to act together and to ensure public safety. The AFMTE feels professional development is important, but the oversight of it is beyond the resources and/or the scope of most of the state boards. This task is best left to a group that specializes in postgraduate education. Currently, that is the NCBTMB. While the result of the task force meeting in Chicago, Illinois, was not what the AFMTE board (and many others) were anticipating, it looks forward to shifting the paradigm. One of the most rewarding aspects of this meeting was that all of the stakeholders agreed to work together. Even though NCBTMB wasn’t included, the task force decided to support their efforts to continue overseeing the CE landscape and strengthening their system to assure high-quality professional development and public safety. And within days of the original MOCC press release, NCBTMB released news that aligns with this. The AFMTE is still involved in bridging and keeping open dialog between the groups.

Here are the AFMTE board’s comments on the three recommendations:

Recommendation 1. Recommendation 1 enables state boards to fulfill their mandate to protect the public. The bottom line is states are charged with the duty to ensure public safety–not excellence. Advanced training should be under the purview of credentialing organizations and not licensing boards. By creating the MOCC, the FSMTB is meeting its obligations. This assessment module does not replace any CE hours that a state might require.

Recommendation 2. Recommendation 2 simply asserts the need for state boards to outline what they need from a contractor who is overseeing required CE courses and providers. We agree that as long as there are CE requirements in the state laws, massage boards should provide guidelines for the process of approving courses and providers.

Recommendation 3. Recommendation 3 eliminates state mandated CE requirements. We advocate shifting oversight to the NCBTMB by rule and contractual arrangement, but (for the time being) maintain the CE requirements in the statutes as part of relicensure to provide for both professional development and public safety, until advanced CE requirements are updated and firmly established with the various professional associations (e.g., ABMP, AMTA, AOBTA) and certification boards (e.g., NCBTMB for general certification and eventually specialty certifications).

In closing, the AFMTE board recommendations are:

1. We support MOCC Recommendation 1 (the creation of the assessment).

2. The states shouldn’t have the responsibility of overseeing the approval of courses or providers, but should provide input to those who do the oversight.

3. The states should continue to mandate professional development until the advanced CE system is updated.

4. There should be one organization that oversees this for the FSMTB and state boards. Currently, that could be the NCBTMB.

5. The oversight process needs to be strengthened to ensure reliable professional development and public safety. We are happy to work collaboratively to help accomplish this bold step.

There is still much work to be done. The AFMTE supports lifelong learning and continued professional development for all therapists. The proposal and any modifications based on feedback will help us continue to work toward a full-fledgedprofession. Make your voice heard! Go to the FSMTB comment link.

If you’d like more information about AFMTE, contact President Pete Whitridge at (772) 332-6116 or e-mail petewhitridge@afmte.org.

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