20:20 with Board Chair, Leena Guptha
To Our 20,000 Facebook Fans,
THANK YOU! On behalf of all of us at NCBTMB, we are very thankful for your ongoing support and involvement in our growing Facebook community. We greatly appreciate your daily questions, comments, and shares. We hope you will continue to participate, learn, and converse with one another on our platform. With your continued participation and support, our Facebook community will help to further elevate the profession—helping you to understand all you need to know about Board Certification, Continuing Education, the latest industry topics, tips to earning your college degree, and much more.
In a special effort to say thank you for your support, we provided you, our fans, with the exclusive opportunity to have your questions personally answered by our Board Chair, Leena Guptha, DO, MBA. After a brief video message from Dr. Leena, you will find your top 20 questions answered.
Trina: Since National/Board Certification is being recognized by the medical community as a higher standard, is NCBTMB lobbying for higher insurance reimbursement rates for LMTs who have this credential?
Hello Trina, Yes, as a certification organization we are strategically working towards greater recognition within the medical community. Also, the member organization(s) are working on insurance reimbursement/massage therapy coding and NCBTMB is seeking to collaborate on this effort, with a vision of Board Certification being the credential of choice.
Nancy: I just graduated and opened my licensed practice, what more do I need to become certified by the NCB? I would like to become certified within the next two years, what benefits would this give to my practice?
Hello Nancy, Board Certification in therapeutic massage and bodywork is our highest, voluntary certification credential. It shows clients that you have attained the skills/competencies beyond entry-level licensure. Board Certification requirements include 750 hours of education, 250 hours of profession hands-on work experience, current CPR certification, and agreement for us to conduct a criminal background check. You would then be eligible to take the exam for the credential BCTMB.
Maria: I would like information on the new insurance codes and how to become providers. I wrote to an insurance company and was denied even though I have a medical massage 40 hour certificate and an NPI number.
Hello Maria, We are a credentialing body that seeks to define and advance the highest standards within the profession, rather than a membership organization. However, I recently became aware that AMTA is pursuing this direction on behalf of their members, and I’m sure further information will become available as this pursuit unfolds.
John: I am a Massage Therapist. Any vacancy for me in USA. Please inform me.
Hello John, As far as looking for work in the continental United States, internet search is an option, as well as joining the massage therapy associations, which may provide you some leads. The process of determining a work visa varies from country to country, and is ever evolving; however, this is not my area of expertise. Once you do obtain a work visa and decide on which state you would like to live in, you will need to contact that state board and follow their requirements to become licensed in order to work legally. Best of luck in manifesting your ambitions.
Lori: I was so proud of my Nationally Certified status. Then, two years later, they changed it. I just spend a lot of money on taking the test. I have to get 100 more credit hours, plus all the other stuff required for Board Certification. As a mom of two and an army wife, I don't have time or money to take 100 more credit hours.
Hello Lori, Thank you for your question. For the 750 hours, we accept education from your massage therapy school, continued education, as well as accredited college courses. Yes, life is always challenging with a toddler, I know, but if you have some prior college education that may be a solution here.
Also, NCBTMB feels very strongly about keeping Certificants like yourself certified. The reason why NCBTMB raised its standards was to distinguish between entry level massage therapists from those that believe in defining and advancing the massage therapy profession.
Over the next few years, the NCB staff and Board of Directors are working diligently to redefine this organization into what it was built to be—the leader in advancing our profession. I invite you to work with one of our customer service representatives to ensure you have the education. I have worked with several people that do actually meet our requirements they did not believe they did until we looked closer at the totality of their education.
Esteban: I've been certified since 1994, have done about 500 hours of continuing education (all AMTA sponsored), including 96 hours of cadaver dissection at a university, and do between 900 and 1200 massages a year. Yet, I may not be able to transition because my initial training in 1981 totaled just under 100 hours. I have less than 750 hours of total education. A friend in Texas who took and passed the NCBTMB exam with me in ‘94 was unable to transition for this reason. I suspect that a number of us "old timers" may be in the same boat, mainly because we began in the field in areas where there was very limited training opportunities. This is very unfortunate, especially so since some of us have worked hard to support the NCBTMB and to improve the profession.
Hello Esterban, Thank you for explaining your situation. It sounds like you have approximately 600 hours in total, if you have other education from accredited colleges. As I mentioned also to Lori, you can also add those to reach 750. I would invite you to reach out to me directly at email@example.com and I will connect you with the appropriate NCB staff member who can work with you to determine if/how you may transition into Board Certification.
Michael: I'm curious about the 3 hours of research you have to do to re-certify. How is this accounted for?
Hello Michael, I'm glad you asked this question, as we have been collaborating with the Foundation to identify the ways and mechanisms these hours can be gained though conferences, classes, or research activities. Here is a link from a blog earlier in the year on the research requirements you may find very helpful: http://www.ncbtmb.org/blog/ncbtmb-research-requirements-board-certification.
Marina: Is that $85 for background check? Do you get fingerprinted? Or is that outside fee? I just got fingerprinted for Florida, is it similar process?
Hello Marina, Yes, the background check is included in the $85 fee. Applicants are asked to sign that they agree to a criminal background check within the Board Certification application. There is nothing further you need to do.
Susan: Do you have to be Board Certified to practice if you are current? If so, will this be an additional renewal fee biannually? What will being Board Certified do for me?
Thank you for your question, Susan. Board Certification is a higher level, voluntary certification. Each certificant has to renew this credential every two years. Board Certification is a choice—not a requirement—as are the advanced board certifications in medicine, for example. In the same manner, Board Certification recognizes a higher level of skills and competencies, as compared to our prior entry-level National Certification or licensure. I choose Board Certification to show to my clients that I have attained the highest level certification that our industry provides at this time in our ongoing evolution. Without higher credentials to reach for and attain, professions can become and remain stagnant and this is not our goal. We want to create a forward movement that promotes certification as a cornerstone of our profession as we see in other healthcare professions.
Denise: Yep, this is just stupid and a way to drain more money out of hard working massage therapists. A state license is all you need in most states to get a job and no one ever asks me about my NCTMB certification even though I list it on my resume. Don't worry, there are plenty of jobs out there and plenty of money to be made for all dedicated therapists without this needless new title.
Hello Denise, This sounds more like a statement than a question. Some therapists will choose to operate from entry-level credentials and others seek advanced certification and recognition. This parallels several other healthcare professions for example, family medicine and yes, not everyone is in search of a Board Certified title for massage therapy. Entry level licensure has is typically the starting point of a career path and advanced credentials in the healthcare professions have always been a choice, not a requirement. Simply put, it is a choice.
April: The 250 hours include internships, non-paid volunteering, and continuing education? Or is it "paid" employment, self-employment?
Hello April, The 250 hours represent the hours of experience gained after graduating from a massage therapy program. These are professional hands-on hours. 25 hours may be in unpaid volunteerism work.
Tanya: I am and have been Nationally Certified 12 years now. My question is: Do all of my CEU's apply for the extra hours? And the CPR; pay and that's all I should need, correct?
Hello Tanya, Yes, all of your CE hours count towards Board Certification. These hours, together with your original training and accredited college courses, would need to add up to 750 hours. Yes, you do need current CPR certification. If this is the third time you are recertifying, you can upload a letter explaining that you have recertified two prior times and that NCBTMB has your work hours on file.
Sierra: I have been a massage therapist for 13 years and love my profession. I have recently begun taking nursing classes at my local community college. During one of our classes we had a guest speaker come in and talk about the different avenues we would be able to take once we graduated. One of the big things that stuck with me was the talk about all of the different credentials available in this profession. I didn’t realize that certification was a higher credential than licensure and I didn’t realize that all other professions take it so seriously. I read some of the information on massage certification and I’m almost appalled at the lack of interest and knowledge that massage therapist have about their own field.
Thank you for sharing your experience Sierra. I am so glad you got a chance to hear how another profession covets its credentials—that is the model upon which we are working towards. NCBTMB will continue to educate our professionals on the importance of a higher credential. The next step is to educate employers and the medical profession about our credential and solidify a career pathway for our certificants.
There has been a general confusion or limited of knowledge of certification as a cornerstone or model of a profession for many years. Within our profession, licensure and certification have become confused with each other. The adoption of massage therapy regulations in different states are still relatively recent, and the profession is growing. We are suffering the growing pains that other professions have gone through before us in order to embrace and promote advanced credentialing. It is, however, heartwarming to read your comment as it provides an insight from another profession—and I believe, rather than reinventing the wheel, we need to look at what has worked in other healthcare professions.
Melissa: I am moving from Oklahoma to Arkansas next year. I have never had to get certified or licensed because OK doesn’t have any of these rules. Since I have been practicing for over 10 years in my state, do I still have to take the national and Arkansas state test?
Hi Melissa and thank you for your question. I lived in Oklahoma myself for a short time, so I understand the situation. To practice legally within the state of Arkansas, you will have to take and pass an entry-level licensure test. Once you pass the test, you can ‘google’ Arkansas massage therapy board to find the licensure application. Complete the application and submit the documents they require. Yes, no matter how long you have been practicing, you will have to become licensed to legally practice massage therapy within states that require licensure.
Troy: Does the NCBTMB have any future visions of working toward uniting the US so that massage therapists can carry one National license rather than becoming licensed in each state we practice in?
Hi Troy, I do understand your pain. I, too, am licensed in several states with different licensing fees and different renewal dates—it would of course be so much easier to simply have one National license. States have jurisdiction over their massage therapy requirements and in some cases they may differ from state to state. Even when we hear about strengthening reciprocity between states, it does not mean that massage therapists will only need one credential. Some states offer licensure through endorsement and recognition of another license, but, again, that varies from state to state. This is an issue that not only faces our profession, but also many others including Osteopathic Medicine, Chiropractic, Medicine and many others. Although we have not yet found the solution, I do believe the first step would be for the stakeholder organizations to come together to dialogue on the issue—and I believe that could be a part of our envisioned future, if there is a willingness to do so.
Rick: I took a class for 60 CEs last month. Can I roll over the additional hours to my next license renewal?
Hi Rick. This sounds more like a question for your state board that issues the license. I do not know of any states that still accept roll over CE hours any longer. Continuing education must be taken in during the renewal period—and this also stands true for Board Certification renewal. Continuing education hours begin adding up from the date the person becomes certified or the date the person last renewed their certification.
Karen: Why does NCBTMB only accept 4 CEs in Self-Care now? In the past we were able to submit all of our hours in Self-Care.
In 2013, NCBTMB elevated its Certification credential from National Certification to Board Certification. This was due to the certification credential becoming synonymous with entry-level licensure and also because the requirements around the higher credential had remained static for 20 years.
During these changes, NCBTMB analyzed different categories accepted for certification renewal and found that several Self-Care classes did not elevate the profession—though many are still useful for teaching therapists how to protect and care for themselves in mind and body. It was found that some certificants could renew their certification by taking 42 hours of Self-Care and 6 hours of Ethics!
Kim: Does NCBTMB work with any other organization? It seems like there is less aggression between organizations than in the past years. I’m very happy to see this change and hope it continues.
Hello Kim, There is an entity called the Coalition of Massage Therapy Organizations comprised of seven organizations within the massage therapy profession. They have been very open to come to the table and collaborate for the betterment of this profession. It is our priority at NCB to reach out and further develop collaborative relationships with all stakeholder groups within our profession. I truly believe that together we can achieve so much more for each organization, for the profession, for the industry and, ultimately, for society.
Debra: I have taken several CE courses, some great and some not so great. Can you please direct me to some of the stronger CE classes in medical massage and subjects like that?
I love this request Debra. I, too, am a lifelong learner and love to take different types of classes in many different modalities and subjects. My advice to you is to try one of the major national conferences. The presenters go through a selection committee both as a national presenter but also at the state chapter level. Whether you are an association member or not, you can often still attend the state conference and receive quality education.
The larger national conferences are packed with several Approved Providers teaching their modalities and information. Here, you will be able to meet massage therapists who have experienced different instructors and will be able to give you feedback. These conferences also give massage therapists opportunities to meet some of our greatest instructors in the profession.
Robert: Will NCBTMB ever have its own Continuing Education classes for massage therapists to take?
Great question, Robert. I don’t get this one very often. NCBTMB approves the instructors that teach Continuing Education. If we created our own Continuing Education courses, this would directly compete with our providers. As a certification board, it is not our remit to compete with those we serve—so, the short answer is no, we do not have plans to offer our own continuing education, but thank you for this unusual question.
Have a question, or perhaps a response to one of the questions above? We invite you to please post your questions and comments below.
This blog was written by:
Leena S. Guptha
DO., MBA., BCTMB.