A while ago I saw someone say “Mandatory CEU’s are for the benefit of CE providers”. As a CE provider, that is hard to hear. However, I know there is some truth to this statement and I want to address my feelings on the subject. I know I may be a little biased since I am a massage CEU provider (Advanced Massage Techniques Massage CEU Provider), but I am also a massage practitioner. The latter still provides most of my income, so I have an interest in mandatory massage CEUS.
Every two years I still need to renew my license like everyone else. Sometimes I struggle to do it on time, enroll in classes I enjoy in my area, and find competent instructors. I struggle with the need for more CEUS just because my state wants 3-10 more hours. Sometimes I feel I have taken all of the classes I enjoy and I do not want to “waste” or spend money on more courses. I do not always like the requirement to repeatedly take classes in CPR, abuse training, or ethics. Actually I enjoy most ethics trainings.
Most licensed professions require CEUS. Doctors, nurses, and dentists learn about the latest treatments, lawyers learn about the newest tax codes and laws, cosmetologists learn about the latest fashions to help us move past the bowl cut. What should massage therapists learn about in their CEUS? We have the opportunity to learn about new research, interesting modalities, and ethics. Should we be required to take massage CEUS?
So wins here- Massage Practitioners, States and National Massage Organizations, the Public, or CEU Providers? Mandatory massage CEUS are not for the sole benefit of CEU providers. They do gain a lot from them, but other people do benefit from them. Who? Continuing education should benefit in this order:
1. Consumers / The Public / Our Clients
2. Massage Practitioners / Massage Professionals
3. CEU Providers
4. State or National Organizations
Now, I am going to break down how each wins or loses:
1. Consumers / The Public / Our Clients
- Our clients should be at the top concern. Like laws, CEUS should help protect the public from untrained professionals. CEUS help massage therapists learn about new techniques, and hopefully become proficient at the. But do mandatory massage CEUS keep massage therapists from harming clients? Its a complex question and answer. Lets think about massage liability claims, which are luckily few and far between. Ethics violations, which are serious, generally are the number one claim against massage therapists. This is why many states included mandatory ethics CEUS. There are burns from stone massages too. Are these from untrained practitioners, careless trained practitioners, or the result incompetent instructors? I do not know.
- Are massage therapists in states with higher CEU requirements better than states with little or no CE requirements?
Most likely not. Would the public perception and the field of massage therapy get better if we ceased requiring massage CEUS? For some reason, I have a fear of what would happen to our profession and the public if we stopped requiring some CEUS. I just do not see any harm in continued learning for most massage professionals. I do not like that it has to be mandatory, but I do not know what the alternative is at this time.
2. Massage Practitioners / Massage Professionals
- It is your/my hard earned dollars that go into paying for our massage CEUS. I would guesstimate that massage therapists can spend $500-$1000 on biennially on CEUS and then $50-$250 on a license renewal. So that is the cost can be recouped in 10-20 massages. Does my required CEU training strengthen by business or gain my business? Certain classes have certainly paid for themselves several times over!! There have been CEU courses that have reignited my fire for massage, those that have added years to my practice, and some which have helped me make great progress with client session / pain relief goals. That is easily worth the cost. And yes, some have been a gigantic waste of my time. More often then not, I have been able to pull information from my massage CEUS to help me better my practice.
- Most mandatory massage CEU requirements include ethics. The NCBTMB requires 6 hours of ethics every four years. I do feel ethics are important. Like I mentioned earlier, ethics violations are still the largest cause of massage liability claims and if you have ever read my blog before you know I believe ethics are the difference between a good and bad massage therapist. They are very important! I am actually surprised ABMP and AMTA do not require these courses. I know my foundation in ethics has built my strong and successful massage business. Sadly I also know that for some, no amount of ethics training is going to keep certain practitioners from staying within our scope of practice and adhering to our code of ethics. I also know that some people need to be forced to take these classes to teach them about boundaries and importance of the therapeutic relationship. Truthfully, our business gets a lot of business and requests for “fast massage CEUS“. These are often from practitioners looking to fulfill their ethics requirement quickly. It is difficult not to cringe at these requests, because I want people to take our classes because they want to learn more, not because they have to. I these people to take the course then go back an really study the content. As an instructor, I want them to get the most out of their continuing education dollar and help them better their business. When I look at what people are searching for when they happen upon our site, I see we get a few people looking for “cheap massage ceus”. This is most likely struggling massage therapists who have to take their required CEUS, but cannot afford them. I do feel sorry for these people, but I know quality education is helpful for many massage businesses. These also may be successful, or cheap people, looking to fulfill their requirement. Who knows.
3. CEU Providers providing the service
- Mandatory CEUS certainly make many some CEU providers very profitable. Some CE providers just looking to cash in on your requirements instead of helping colleagues are unethical. However, CE providers are not the enemy here. Many CE providers are sharing their passion and providing a service to help you better your massage practice. Education is valuable and some CE providers and courses are worth their weight in gold! The chance to better your practice and careers is very valuable. Some CEU courses can make your business outstanding!!!
4. States or National Organizations
- I hope we all can agree that states and organizations that approve or require mandatory massage CEUS should come in somewhere near the bottom of the totem pole. The duty of most state boards is just to protect the public from harm and assure licensees they are approving competent CE providers. The duty of national organizations is supposed to be to approve competent CE providers and promote the field of massage therapy. Their job should not include requesting ridiculous fees from providers or practitioners.
Mandatory massage CEUS are here to stay. I do not see it going the other way. In my opinion, 12-24 is sufficient every 2 years (including 2 hour ethics and boundaries refresher).
What do you think?
Ivy Hultquist, LMT
Links to Mandatory or Required Massage CEUS
I think what annoys me about ethics/ law ce’s is that many of them seem to be basic outlines of WAC codes.. I don’t need them translated or someone to present them to me – that they’re so obviously tailored to meet the licensing requirements. Also wonder why massage CE’s seem to be so very expensive. Nurses need CE’s also, and one can, for example, find CE’s online that might cost $50 for 45 CE’s. Compare that to massage, which can run $500-up for 16 or less hours. I suppose one must also consider the diff between online and onsite coursework. But- a three day course for $500-700? Really?
I have been practicing massage for 19 years and have (like you) enjoyed my CE, or tried to pull value from the classes that didn’t ring my bell. My complaint is on the requirment and on the rising cost of ethics CE. Your class is about what I paid 2 years ago (in Washington state) and this year classes are averaging $100 on up for a 4-6 hour class. Keep in mind, most of the info is reviewed, not new. I would like to see the ethics requirments be for new grads, or violators.
Requiring this for new grads and violators is a great idea. It is hard after attending the same class almost 10 times not to be just a little bored and thinking of other ways you could be spending your time and money.
Do you have the opportunity to complete these online in WA? I am not as up to speed on WA’s requirements as I am for FL or IA.
CEUs providers are giving us their expertise, but it seems like the profession does not consider situations where massage therapist don’t make money or as much as the massage schools promised. Some of us have been unemployed since the economy crush and are faced with re certification and can not afford the prices of the CEUs. I feel some of us will loose our certificates with the national board. What a disappointment after working so hard to be in this profession and the love to serve others