ABMP Changes Legislative Position

on Entry-Level Education

By Jean Robinson
[Government Relations]

The Entry-Level Analysis Project (ELAP) is a collaborative research project that has organized and defined the content and skill components of entry-level massage education and recommended a minimum number of training hours necessary for safe and competent practice as an entry-level massage therapist. “The Core: Entry-Level Massage Education Blueprint” and its companion report detailed the project’s findings and recommendations. Find them both at www.elapmassage.org.
All seven major national massage therapy organizations, including the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, have now endorsed the general thrust of the blueprint. Prior to this research project, ABMP and other leading organizations in the profession generally supported a 500-hour entry-level requirement; however, this number was based on tradition rather than research.
We now know with confidence that, for the purpose of protecting the public from unqualified practitioners, all entry-level massage therapists should possess at least 625 hours of education, in the following core subjects:

Massage Theory and Principles     27 hours
Massage Professional Practices    20 hours
The Therapeutic Relationship    40 hours
Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology    80 hours
Assessment and Documentation    50 hours
Massage and Bodywork Application     175 hours
Palpation and Movement    71 hours
Adapting Sessions for Clients      80 hours
Career Development    82 hours
Total Hours     625 hours

ABMP fully supports states adopting a new entry-level education requirement based on the findings of the ELAP study, including content focus and allocation, not just total education hours. ABMP will support legislation adopting the ELAP recommendations, regardless of whether the state is currently requiring a lower or higher number of education hours. Legislation should include language to ensure that current licensees in good standing—active and inactive—are considered qualified and will remain licensed without having to obtain additional training.

Other News

On May 15, 2014, Governor Martin O’Malley signed HB 1157 into law. HB 1157 changes the education requirements for licensed massage therapists (LMTs) and registered massage therapists (RMTs). Only new applicants will be affected by the change. Maryland implements a two-tiered regulatory system: In order to qualify as an LMT, an applicant must complete a minimum 500-hour massage program, have a minimum of 60 college credit hours, and pass an entry-level exam. An RMT must complete a minimum 500-hour massage program and pass an entry-level exam. Only LMTs are authorized to practice in a health-care setting.
HB 1157 changed the massage education requirement for both tiers to 600 hours and specifies that the 60 college credit hours needed to qualify for the LMT tier must now include at least 24 credit hours in basic and applied science courses related to health care, or 60 hours of general college credits in any subject, and at least 24 hours of advanced massage therapy continuing education approved by the board.
ABMP was opposed to HB 1157.The purpose of regulation is to ensure that all practitioners meet entry-level requirements. Complicating those requirements is counterproductive.
Read ABMP’s testimony on the bill at www.abmp.com/members/news/
HB 401 was also signed into law in Maryland on May 15, 2014. The law requires new applicants for massage, chiropractic, and physical therapy licensing to submit fingerprints and undergo a background check. ABMP was in favor of HB 401; the majority of states require background checks of all health-care practitioners.

Jean Robinson is ABMP’s director of government relations. Contact her at jean@abmp.com.