As we work our way through this unprecedented pandemic, what are we learning about the massage therapy profession? I am sure there will be more things as this virus spreads on and on.
- Massage schools were already struggling to attract new students before the pandemic. Schools have moved to some online classes. Could massage school be made less expensive by teaching more classes online?
- The pandemic also brought up the issues of race and how BIPOC are discriminated against in the massage profession. We don’t have any clear statistics on the number of BIPOC who are massage therapists? How many BIPOC also receive massage regularly? Many can’t afford massage therapy and the answer to that is to get massage therapy covered by health insurance or open clinics to serve this population for free or low cost.
- It isn’t only BIPOC who can’t afford massage. Other low income people/families are down to survival mode just wondering where their next meal is coming from. What’s the answer? Low income clinics to provide free massage and healthcare? Getting massage covered by health insurance?
- Our professional associations were very late to the game and made a very disappointing show of advocacy and support. AMTA Chapters were working with governors and legislators to try to clarify mandates and essential worker status. Remember all of the chapter leaders are volunteers who may or may not be experts on working with legislators and just help when they have time. Many chapters found things like legislators and governors calling massage therapists masseuses which is really showing us where we have failed in communicating who we are and what we do. ABMP was the first to step up about a month after the pandemic started here in WA. I worked to provide as much information as I could as we went through each step of figuring out what the heck was going on. See the section on COVID-19 although mostly outdated now except Wear the Masks.
Just an idea…What if we figured out how to set up community based health centers like this: Federally Qualified Health Centers are community-based health care providers that receive funds from the Health Services & Resources Administration (HRSA) Health Center Program to provide primary care services in underserved areas. According to the HRSA, 1 in 12 people across the United States rely on FQHCs for care including 3.5 publicly housed patients, 1.4 million homeless patients, 1 million agricultural workers, and more than 355,000 veterans. FQHCs must meet a stringent set of requirements, including providing care on a sliding fee scale based on patient’s ability to pay and operating under a governing board that includes patients. More information about FQHCs can be found here .
- The debate over wearing facemasks has gotten to the point of being ridiculous. Some want their freedom and still think this is a hoax. Part of being a professional and a health care professional is doing what is right. If your state, city, county or business are mandating wearing masks and YOU are not, your liability insurance may not cover you if you are breaking the mandates. Not wearing a mask says quite simply you don’t care. Wearing a mask says, we are all in this together and I honor others. Wearing a mask is a sign of solidarity and support. (It is a national problem too and not just something within the massage profession but it goes to show how divided the US is and the massage profession.)
- The pandemic has also brought an increase in the use of Opioids causing another pandemic of sorts. Massage therapy was being called on from every angle to be a part of the answer to the Opioid epidemic but we don’t have enough advocacy from our associations and leaders in the massage profession. Here is a long list of the events where we are being cited as a possible answer to the Opioid epidemic. The latest was something from the Massage Therapy Foundation President, Doug Nelson who was recently a panelist at the Alliance to Advance Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management (AACIPM) virtual symposium which is great but only a drop in an ocean. There are many many things we need to be doing. Here is a list of some of my ideas based on what I saw happen here in WA State where we have been able to bill health insurance for over 20 years.
- The pandemic has also shown massage therapists and everyone really that no income source is reliable which is why I recommend having other sources of income. What I do is create websites and share information. Here is a list of ideas I have that may fit your skills and knowledge and ideas on how to make money with a website.
- It is going to get worse before it gets better. The economy is tanking and it is just the beginning. Restaurants, gyms, sporting events, conventions, travel will never be the same. In the last 30 years, I have survived the downturn in the economy by being able to bill insurance – car accident, workers comp and health insurance. It is a process to learn what cases to take and which to avoid and it will take time to learn that yourself. Meanwhile people who are coming in with their insurance paying come in weekly or twice a week even and it usually takes a few months or more depending on their injuries to get better. Learning to bill insurance can help make a difference when trying to survive during a depression.
- There is a high demand for massage therapists in clinics, spas, and franchises. Many massage therapists are not going back to work or waiting it out more. You now have even more ability to negotiate pay and benefits. Demand more for your risk.
- Have you taken any CE classes? I have taken a few online. Two different classes said they were 3CE credits. I took one in 20 minutes and one in 40 minutes. Are CE system is really messed up to say the least. The CE Conundrum continues.
- Stress is at an all time high and more than ever we need to have massage therapists working but the risk of working may outweigh the benefits. Each therapist has to decide that for themselves. The pandemic has certainly brought out the best and the worst of us as seen in the many Facebook forums and posts. Be kind.
What other lessons are we seeing as a result of COVID-19 and also the race issues that have been brought to light and what needs to be done? What can we do as a profession and as an individual practicing massage?
See my first post on Lessons from COVID-19 with more of a general overview.