First Letter to NCBTMB (just sent a few minutes ago…awaiting response):
To NCBTMB Board of Directors
Leena Guptha, Bruce Baltz, Jill Berkana, Veronica Stern, Brenda Jeanne Baker, Teresa M. Matthews, Michael McGillicuddy
I just read your announcement on your new specialty certification on your website and I have many questions.
How does this help the profession by certifying ONE School?
Two other school owners mentioned on Facebook that they would be doing the same – I am not sure if that meant they are adopting the same program or doing a certification of their own.
Last I heard from a few leaders in the massage profession, NCBTMB was to work on specialty certifications for like a modality – sports massage, injury treatments etc. What has happened to that?
Are you planning on certifying more schools in a specific type of massage or specialty or are you going to work on a separate specialty certifications?
Right now NCBTMB has a very big image problem and your recent launch did not help since it was lacking in any clear communication about what this really is, what it means for the massage profession and WHY you are doing this. Your past track record has not been forgotten and too many massage therapists see your organization only as a way to take money from unknowing therapists (the old national certification trap).
I thought you were on the right track with creating a Board Certification and would think you have enough to do with that since the public, medical professionals, insurance companies do not know who you are or what it means and it has no meaning to anyone. But again, I was initially against it as you had not really clarified what it was about or the meaning it has. A massage school teacher later explained it to me saying that doctors, hospitals and insurance companies would recognize a Board Certification More because they are familiar with that terminology with doctors and it would give us a better standing in that arena which is what we truly need as we are getting eaten for dinner by insurance companies right now especially in WA State where I have worked as a massage therapist for over 28 years. If that is true, you may just want to focus your efforts on building your reputation and sharing the meaning of such a certification with insurance companies and hospitals and medical professionals. You might want to focus on repairing your reputation with massage therapists too.
I hope you can explain your motives for this type of certification and why you are doing this? What meaning does it have for massage therapists? How will it help us survive and thrive as a profession? Are other schools doing this? Why? How will it help them? How will it help the profession – the massage therapists working day in and day out – who are mostly struggling to make ends meet.
Right now it just looks like your board members/staff are creating this for their own schools which would be a real conflict of interest, but I am assuming there is more to it than that and hope you can clarify.
I await your reply and hope that this gets into the hands of all the board members.
Thanks very much
After writing the letter, I did get a little bit more info from asking questions and reading in a few Facebook forums. There will be more schools applying for this certification which means creating programs and courses in their schools to fulfill the requirements – whatever they are. I do know that the schools are also struggling to get students and the demand for graduates is higher than the number of graduates looking for jobs. There has been continuing debate over the cause of this – is it because the schools have fallen behind? Is it that the pay is so low for entry level therapists that no one wants to be a massage therapist anymore? Is it that the growth years for the massage profession has finally taken it’s toll?
The problem then is still – what does this mean? What will it mean to doctors and hospitals? How will they get this info into the medical professionals hands and have it mean something? This really has been the problem with the NCBTMB from the very beginning.
The NCBTMB started with the so called “National Certification Exam” which really was not National – it did little to help massage therapists move from state to state as far as I know. Healthcare providers and hospitals had little knowledge of what it was or what it meant. A few employers used to require that their employees be Nationally Certified but to me that is meaningless.
The struggles with the NCBTMB have continued through the years as they lost their footing (an the majority of their income) when the MBLEx exam was created by the Federation of Massage State Boards.
Now they are trying to recover and survive. The Battle over CE continues also. They have been the only organization credentialing CE providers but the Federation of Massage State Boards wants to take that over too. The most recent announcement is that they would work together on overseeing CE.
I was also just looking to find the NCBTMB’s financial status through Guidestar (create free login to view this info) but they have not reported yet on 2015 which is normal and I could only find data from 2014 when they were still getting money from national exams.
Assets: $1,514,402Income: $2,753,795Expenses: $2,836,940Liabilities: $412,466
Exam: $1,512,547Re-certification: $676,880Approved Provider: $472,940
Testing : $628,757Background checks: $210,305Legal: $137,684
Office Space: $106,626
Lenna Guptha, Chair, compensation: $49,800Steve Kirin, CEO, compensation: $152,709
The terminology for this specialty “Integrative” is also interesting. Integrative is now being used instead of the word complementary. Complementary, Integrative , Alternative all indicate something that is not mainstream. What about being just part of mainstream health care – not complementary…not alternative… not integrative but a separate branch of medicine? See: Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name? from the National Institute of Complementary and Integrative Health (formerly National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
Also just to be clear – this is not an attack or commentary on the actual program that is being offered at Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC). I know it is great and a lot of time and energy went into the program and making this all happen. Kudos to Brent Jackson for it’s creation and implementation. I just wonder what effect it will have on the future of the massage profession. I hope I am wrong in thinking that it is meaningless to have this certification and the NCBTMB will do something to make this have some meaning in the healthcare profession and to the general public.
Julie Onofrio says
Here is the reply I got from NCBTMB:
First and foremost, thank you for your email and taking the time to share your thoughts with us. We very much appreciate your questions.
To clarify, our partnership with CCTC is only the first Specialty Certificate NCBTMB plans on launching. With that said, NCBTMB has taken the approach of looking for different organizations that have a need for massage therapists with specific skill sets. We chose CCTC’s Hospital Based Massage Therapy Program due to its unique education and experience for students, particularly as it is very rich in material as part of an integrative healthcare team within a hospital setting. As CCTC’s 100% placement rate proves, CCTC’s graduates go on to work comfortably in medical facilities–many of which are hospitals–and are familiar with the proper protocol, medical law, and safety procedures required to succeed in such roles from Day One.
As stated, this is only the first Specialty Certificate. We are working with other organizations to launch different Specialty Programs, and corresponding information will become available at the appropriate time. The purpose of Specialty Certificates is to identify demand within different organizations and fill that demand with qualified therapists who demonstrate proven education and experience in the required modality, special population, or setting. In fact, many of our partnering facilities already have programs that they are teaching to massage therapists to elevate their knowledge and experience in these different areas. A Specialty Certificate with NCBTMB provides these therapists with nationally-recognized support and recognition for such training.
Last but not least, NCBTMB is not just looking at massage therapy programs. In fact, we are looking at every organization that has a need for therapists with advanced knowledge. However, we do want to stress that there is still plenty of room for continuing education that is not included in Specialty Certificates. There are wonderful educational courses taught by excellent providers that NCBTMB currently approves, and will continue to do so. Specialty Certificates are another way that, together, we will continue to elevate our profession.
John Larkin says
So basically they found a program that was successful and put their label on it.