The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE) has announced it will collaborate with the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) on the development of a new national program for the approval of both continuing education courses and providers. AFMTE and its members will bring their expertise in the domain of continuing education to help establish a single, standardized approval process that meets the needs of state regulators, continuing education (CE) providers and massage therapists alike.

In a November 2010 survey conducted by AFMTE on educational standards, 53.5 percent of respondents agreed that such an approval program was needed versus 25.6 percent who disagreed.

As it currently exists, the responsibility for approving continuing education is split among a number of individual state massage board processes and a national provider approval process operated by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). Because a significant number of CE providers travel around the country to offer workshops, it is unreasonable to require them to obtain multiple approvals. In addition, the lack of a consistent approval program means there is little assurance massage therapists are receiving quality coursework that is relevant to the scopes of practice described in their state laws and rules.

According to Pete Whitridge, AFMTE president, “We have analyzed this issue from the perspective of what is best for our members, and what will serve the long-term interests of the massage therapy field as a whole. We believe that a new solution is warranted, and that FSMTB is the optimal choice for the agency that will house and administrate this important program.”

On that point, AFMTE recognizes the fundamental difference between voluntary certification and mandatory licensure. State boards must have a direct mechanism of control and supervision over the approval process for CE courses taken for periodic license renewal. The FSMTB is ideally positioned to provide this service, in the same way its MBLEx program gives state boards a reliable competency assessment examination to qualify massage school graduates for entry-level licensure.

Whitridge added, ” AFMTE’s decision to get involved with this new FSMTB initiative is a natural step for our organization. We’re advocating for a strong and unified quality assurance process for continuing education because it’s a crucial part of the structure of a full-fledged profession. Having competing state and national approval programs is a waste of time and money for our members who offer continuing education, and it creates confusion by having multiple systems with differing standards. AFMTE is honored to be asked to work with our colleagues from the regulatory community on this exciting project, and we’ll bring our full resources and experience to ensure a successful outcome.”

About the AFMTE

The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education is the independent voice, advocate and resource for the community of massage therapy schools and educators. It serves the entire education sector from entry-level training programs through post-graduate studies. The national headquarters of AFMTE is located at 1760 Old Meadow Road, Suite 500, McLean, Virginia 22102. For more information, visit www.afmte.org, call (703) 506-2888 or e-mail admin@afmte.org.

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