Earlier this year, the Utah legislature passed Senate Bill 42, creating two new licensure categories: “massage assistant-in-training” and “massage assistant.” The Division of Professional Licensing (Division) issued proposed rules (page 41) to establish educational training, supervisory roles, examinations, renewal requirements, and unprofessional conduct for these new licenses. ABMP has summarized the proposed rules for you below.
We encourage you to elevate your voice and email the Division at firstname.lastname@example.org before December 15 to show your support of, or opposition to, the proposed rules. If you’re interested in advocacy, this is an excellent opportunity to share your opinion with Division officials about this pivotal change within the massage profession. Express your thoughts and suggestions for how you think these massage therapy lower-licensing tiers should be regulated in Utah.
Massage Assistant-in-Training Education and Training Standards
The proposed rules would require the following educational standards for a massage assistant-in-training program:
A massage assistant-in-training can engage in supervised practice of limited massage therapy, not the practice of massage therapy. A massage assistant-in-training can begin their education and training program after:
- The massage assistant-in-training is licensed as a massage assistant-in-training.
- The supervising massage therapist has submitted a curriculum content outline and a list of resource materials to be used along with the massage assistant-in-training’s license application.
- The Division has approved the supervising massage therapist.
A supervising massage therapist must train the massage assistant-in-training for at least 300 hours. At least 150 hours of education and training must be face-to-face instruction in the following areas:
- Anatomy and physiology (40 hours)
- Pathology (20 hours)
- Massage theory (10 hours)
- Massage techniques, including the five basic Swedish massage strokes (40 hours)
- Hands-on instruction (30 hours)
- Professional standards, ethics, and business practices (5 hours)
- Sanitation and universal precautions, including CPR and first aid (5 hours)
At least 150 hours of education and training must be performing massage services on the public. During these services, the supervising massage therapist must:
- Give written or verbal instructions to the massage assistant-in-training
- Be present in the facility where the massage assistant-in-training is performing the services, but does not need to be in the treatment room
- Be available to provide immediate face-to-face communication with the massage assistant-in-training as necessary
A supervising massage therapist and massage assistant-in-training must display a sign visible near the workstation that states “Massage Assistant-in-training.” They must complete the following duties:
- Keep a daily record that includes the number of educational hours and training completed and the number of hours of massage services performed.
- Make the massage assistant-in-training’s education and work history records available to the Division upon request, such as independent contractor and 1099 records, supervision records, work contracts, performance reviews, disciplinary action(s), and work history records showing dates, times, and locations of practice.
- Verify the massage assistant-in-training’s completion of their education and training on a form available from the Division.
- Ensure the massage assistant-in-training performs massage services only on the public and performs other hands-on instruction or practice on a massage assistant-in-training, a massage assistant, or the supervising massage therapist.
- Notify the Division within 10 working days if the massage assistant-in-training terminates their program.
The proposed rules describe the role and responsibilities of the supervising massage therapist. A supervising massage therapist can be the only supervisor for their massage apprentice or massage assistant-in-training and cannot allow another massage therapist to supervise their massage apprentice or massage assistant-in-training.
A massage therapist cannot serve as a supervising massage therapist if:
- The massage therapist’s license has been disciplined for unlawful or unprofessional conduct within five years of the education and training program, or
- One or more of the supervising massage therapist’s previous massage assistants in-training were unable to pass the Utah Massage Assistant Theory, Law, and Rule Examination.
If a supervising massage therapist is supervising a massage apprentice performing massage services, the supervising massage therapist must:
- Give written or verbal instructions to the massage apprentice
- Be present in the facility where the massage apprentice is performing the services, but does not need to be in the treatment room
- Be available to provide immediate face-to-face communication with the massage apprentice as necessary
An applicant for licensure as a massage apprentice or a massage assistant-in-training must pass the Utah Massage Theory Law and Rule Examination.
If a massage assistant-in-training fails the Utah Massage Assistant Theory, Law, and Rule Examination three times, the supervising massage therapist and the massage assistant-in-training must meet with the Division to explain why the massage assistant-in-training cannot pass the exam. The supervising massage therapist must provide a plan of study to help the massage assistant-in-training pass the exam. If approved, the massage assistant-in-training will be eligible to take the Utah Massage Assistant Theory, Law, and Rule Examination again.
If a massage apprentice fails the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards’ Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) three times, the supervising massage therapist and massage apprentice must meet with the Division to explain why the massage apprentice cannot pass the exam. The supervising massage therapist must provide a plan of study to help the massage apprentice pass the exam. If approved, the massage apprentice will be eligible to take the MBLEx again.
The proposed rules would not allow an expired massage assistant-in-training license to be renewed; however, the Division, in collaboration with the Board, could extend the license for a period of time due to hardship. The massage assistant-in-training would need to present evidence proving:
- A circumstance of hardship occurred beyond the massage assistant-in-training’s control that prevented completion of their program, and
- The massage assistant-in-training is on course to earn a license as a massage assistant within a reasonable timeframe.
The proposed rules outline acts considered unprofessional conduct in relation to the new tiers of licensure. Failing to properly supervise a massage apprentice, massage assistant, or massage assistant-in-training include:
- Failing to provide the required direct supervision
- Failing to provide the required indirect supervision
- Practicing without the required indirect supervision as a massage assistant
- Practicing without the required direct or indirect supervision as a massage assistant-in-training
- Failing to provide employment records to the Division as a massage therapy supervisor
- Failing to provide employment records to the Division upon request as a massage assistant
- A supervising massage therapist advising, directing, or instructing a massage apprentice or massage assistant-in-training in any education, training, or behavior that violates accepted and recognized standards and ethics of the massage profession
- A supervising massage therapist allowing, aiding, or abetting any behavior by a massage assistant that violates the accepted and recognized standards and ethics of the massage profession