Communication is Key: An Interview with Massage Today
December 10, 2013
As mentioned in the Massage Today interview below, communication is a foundation that can facilitate a greater understanding to serving the profession as a volunteer. To this end, NCBTMB has conducted webinars, posted blogs and established a firstname.lastname@example.org email. NCBTMB is working on a survey to identify needs and priorities of the profession and I am delighted to have the opportunity to be interviewed by Massage Today to address some myths regarding Board Certification.
Board Certification is a well-established and recognized concept and career path in medicine; however, in our profession, such a career path is not available. I have become aware that this new credential which represents a higher level of education and practice has raised questions, such as… Who is eligible? At what time in the recertification cycle? And with what requirements?
It is our hope that this outreach through Massage Today will help address some of the commonly asked questions. Communication is a two way process… and so I invite you to present your inquiries. This ongoing dialogue is necessary in order for advanced certification to find its rightful place, and as a cornerstone of our professional development.
Leena Guptha, BCTMB
Board Certified Massage Therapist
The interview below was originally published in Massage Today, December 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 12.
New Board Chair for NCBTMB
By Editorial Staff
The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) announced the addition of new Board Chair, Dr. Leena Guptha, D.O., after the recent resignation of Susan Toscano.
"For personal reasons," said Toscano, "I have decided at this time to resign as Chair for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. I have decided to pursue alternative professional directions at this time. I express this with genuine appreciation to everyone with whom I have had the pleasure to accompany over many years of dedicated service and contribution to the field of massage therapy and bodywork. I wish you relaxation, peace of mind and wellness — the true work and the real gift of our profession."
Dr. Guptha worked closely with Toscano, previously serving as Chair-Elect for the NCBTMB. "On behalf of everyone at NCBTMB, I express a debt of gratitude to former Chair Sue Toscano with whom I have worked closely for more than a decade. We all wish her well in all that she does and her future endeavors. I am humbled, honored and privileged to take up the challenges and the torch for NCBTMB and I look forward to reaching out to all of you in the very near future."
Steve Kirin, CEO, acknowledged Toscano's contributions. "It has been a pleasure for me to work side-by-side with Sue for the past few months and I wish her tremendous success in her future endeavors. Moving forward, I fully support and look forward to working with Dr. Guptha in this role."
Debunking The Myths
In an exclusive interview with Massage Today, Dr. Guptha shared her belief that the biggest road blocks at the moment are the myths and misunderstandings behind the idea of Board Certification. In May of 2012, the NCBTMB announced it's new board credential. The requirements for obtaining the new board certification credential include passing the Board Certification Exam, 750 hours of education, 250 hours of hands-on work experience (25 hours of community service may be credited toward this requirement), successful completion of a criminal background check and a commitment to adhere to the NCB Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. At the time of the announcement, the NCBTMB said additional qualifications for this credential would be determined based on feedback from the profession.
In making the board certification announcement, NCB also said that those therapists that graduated from a program with fewer than 750 hours of education, would be required to complete continuing education for make up for the difference. These continuing education courses must meet NCB's definition of continuing education and be taken from an NCB assigned school, an NCB approved provider or an accredited college or university. For currently nationally certified massage therapists to achieve board certification, they must meet the board certification eligibility criteria as of their next recertification date and passing the board certification exam will not be required.
"The ultimate goal is to have recognition within the medical community, in working with physicians," said Dr. Guptha. "In my experience in hospitals, the stumbling block with doctors was that massage therapists didn't have a credential to prove that the therapist had achieved the proper educational requirements. Medical professionals understand and want certifications. It is going to take some work on our part to spread the word that there is a higher board certification within the profession for those wanting to work in the medical setting."
In a November webinar hosted by NCBTMB, Dr. Guptha explained her thoughts regarding the higher credential. "Choosing a higher credential is voluntary; it can distinguish the more qualified therapist from an entry level therapist. It shows a commitment to the profession and the consumer. Just like the medical profession uses and recognizes the board certification credentials, in our profession we are at the earliest stage of this process. Board Certification creates a career pathway that usually provides a gateway to specialty certification. Also, I am actually not aware of any other group that has a board certification in massage therapy and bodywork."
In addressing another question during the webinar, Dr. Guptha further explained the difference between entry-level licensure and the higher level board certification. "Board Certification is a higher credential than licensure. It's a commitment to the profession and to the consumer. Board Certification allows a more advanced therapist to distinguish themselves from a from an entry-level therapist. It is modeled on the medical profession, the next step in creating a career pathway for our profession. Board Certification requires advocacy from the Board, the stakeholders and the certificants to disseminate these values, just like it has been in the history for both old and new medical board certifications."
Communication is Key
Dr. Guptha also quickly acknowledged that communication is going to be key to the NCB's activities over the next several months. "I'm 20 days into my role as chair right now, so I'm taking stock of the landscape and what I've seen is that there is a tremendous amount of confusion," said Dr. Guptha. "What I'm realizing is that if people don't understand where we are today, it's going to be very difficult to move forward."
"While I believe there has not been enough communication with stakeholders and certificants, I also believe it is just as important for me to listen to those same groups so I can better understand the questions and concerns that are out there in the profession," said Dr. Guptha. "Staying in touch with our certificants is really vital to our future and the focus and attention has not been there. It's going to take a collective effort because collaboration and support are essential to moving forward."
Editor's Note: Massage Today will continue it's discussion with Dr. Guptha in the January 2014 issue. Dr. Guptha will address the questions surrounding the NCBTMB's approved provider program.