(Overland Park, Kansas) March 30, 2011: The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) announces the launch of a project to develop a new national program for the approval of both continuing education courses and providers. Once it is established, the program will provide state regulatory agencies with a centralized quality assurance process for all courses taken by massage and bodywork therapists for the renewal of State licensure or State certification.

As the representative for the regulatory community, FSMTB has responded to requests from its Member Boards to create a unified system to ensure that continuing education courses are taught by qualified instructors, relevant to the scope of practice, and meet the needs of the regulatory community. Continuing education is a requirement in three-quarters of the States that regulate the practice of massage therapy; it is also the method used in most professions for demonstrating continued competence.

The FSMTB continuing education approval program is intended to provide a more streamlined alternative to the existing structure, which consists of a patchwork of individual State approval processes and a provider approval process administered by a private certification organization. This approach is inconsistent, requires continuing education providers to go through multiple approvals to offer their courses around the country, and is not focused on standards for licensure renewal. The new approval program will be developed and administered by FSMTB, giving State agencies the necessary mechanism of ownership and control required by their legislative mandates. In this way, the program will be similar to the Federation’s establishment of the MBLEx, a highly successful program that provides its Member Boards with a dedicated licensure exam for State credentialing.

FSMTB has invited the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE) to collaborate on this project as a representative of the educational community. And to ensure that the perspective of the learners is considered in the development process, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) have been invited to provide input as the two largest massage and bodywork membership associations.

Once an initial draft of the continuing education approval program is completed, it will be made available for public comment. Other stakeholder organizations, as well as continuing education providers, schools and therapists will have the opportunity to give their feedback to FSMTB on this project before it is finalized. This step will ensure that all interested parties have a voice in the process. The ongoing status of this project will be updated on the FSMTB website: www.fsmtb.org.

Overall, the FSMTB continuing education project is consistent with the FSMTB Mission, which is to support its Member Boards in their work to ensure that the practice of massage therapy is provided to the public in a safe and effective manner. Upgrading and consolidating the process of continuing education approvals will directly serve the regulatory community and deliver a valuable service for providers and consumers of continuing education alike.