Archive for September, 2010

This week, the governor signed a new law requiring LMTs in New York to take 36 hours of continuing education every three years in order to be eligible to renew our registrations.

Unsurprisingly, this decision has been met by some grumbling among massage therapists in NYC. “We make so little money as it is,” said one of my colleagues, “and now we are being forced to spend it on courses.” Others have complained that it seems to be another way for the state to raise revenue during difficult economic times.

As an individual massage therapist I tend to agree with these sentiments. I already take courses that I feel will enhance my practice and help with my professional development. But I suspect that the profession overall will benefit from this new requirement.

Massage therapy continues to struggle for inclusion within the health care system. Several years ago the basic educational requirement for licensure was increased dramatically, from a certificate program to an Associates Degree. Ironically, it was this change in the law that led me to go to massage school when I did; I knew I would never be able to afford a two-year program, so I squeezed into the last year of the one-year program and was “grandfathered in” under the old licensing requirements. I also had attained a BA and an MA already, so I did not feel I needed to add an Associates to my list of degrees.

When I began to meet up with new graduates in the workplace, I envied their additional training. And now that I work for a healthcare organization, I appreciate the fact that the massage therapy license requires a level of education comparable to nursing, terminating in a college degree. It gives us a measure of professional respect that a mere certificate cannot confer.

Similarly, requiring that massage therapists continue to study and learn throughout their careers is another step towards professional legitimacy. Doctors and nurses have strong industry-based standards for continuing education, such as specialized certifications, that are pretty much required if they are to advance in their careers. Massage therapists have a national certification board with continuing education requirements but there does not seem to be much professional incentive within New York State to carry this certification; jobs do not require it, and salaries do not increase for those who attain it.

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