Growing and Changing

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB, released a proposal this week to establish a new “national program to provide state regulatory agencies with a centralized quality assurance process for the renewal of State licensure or State certification.” The original announcement of the project was a year ago, but FSMTB engaged an eight-person task force that met earlier this year to consider alternatives for identifying and developing a more practical continuing education (CE) approval process for states. Spoiler alert: I think this is a good idea, and I applaud FSMTB for moving in this direction. Full disclosure: ABMP Director of Education Anne Williams is a friend and colleague, and represented ABMP on the FSMTB Task Force. However, as Anne will tell you, I do not hesitate to disagree with her if we have a difference of opinion (and vice versa—believe me).   If you are so inclined to read the rest of my post, I encourage you do three things first: 1)   Read the FSMTB’s press release about their new proposal; 2)   Read the MOCC proposal; 3)   Read Laura Allen’s blog about the FSMTB program and announcement.   Wow! Back already? Nice work. From a continuing education provider standpoint, I can understand that perhaps there’s some frustration because there was hope for “one-stop shopping” regarding continuing education approval. Whether or not someone had chosen sides, there was some expectation that either FSMTB or the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) would “win” and establish a new, universal CE-approval standard/process. The FSMTB’s announcement leaves that question unanswered. Instead, the profession could be getting a competency-assurance program that is based on the outline of the MBLEx. In essence, FSMTB (through its task force) has said, “continuing education is not our thing; we need to ensure continued competence.” I have for a long, long time argued with chapters, organizations, and individuals that we need to stop using state regulation of our profession as a means for professional development. We can’t and shouldn’t legislate professional development; we can and should legislate competence. More isn’t always better—using state regulations to impart some expectation of “what a professional should be” is misguided. State regulation is established to ensure public safety. I have gone 180 degrees on FSMTB’s venturing into CE approval; when they first announced their intent to consider approving CE, I was not happy. It felt like one of those “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenarios that plague us in the massage field on occasion. Those who have heard me speak or read my blog over the years know I am not shy about challenging NCBTMB, and by no means is their CE approval process ideal. They have stated as much and are working on improving that process. I am in full support of their commitment to CE, and I think their role is the right one for the profession. I believe certification should be voluntary, and I believe continuing education should be voluntary; therapists spend too many hours (and a lot of money) chasing their tails to “get hours” before their license renewal is due. States are constantly challenged with managing CE requirements, and many disallow what we would call “useful” hours because the subject matter is outside their state’s scope of practice. It’s a bit of a vicious circle for therapists trying to keep their licenses. So the FSMTB proposal would get us out of that game—take what you want, when you want; to renew your license, you’ll have to prove you have maintained professional competence. Isn’t that what we expect?     Prefer to receive more from Les in small doses? Follow him on Twitter — @abmp_les.