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L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 13 facing proof point that practitioners are qualified and ready to practice safely and effectively in the profession. In other words, it sets a common standard for aspiring massage professionals to meet. That's why it's troubling that a small ripple questioning the validity and need of the MBLEx is surfacing from factions in a few corners of the country. At a recent summit hosted by the California Massage Therapy Council, this question emerged from some in attendance. Lacking in their statements was any real argument or evidence as to why entry- level examination isn't actually needed. Interestingly, some arguments started with the sentiment that "massage is a bona fide health-care profession" and ended with "the MBLEx and (other) exams are too burdensome." Obviously f lawed thinking. The massage profession can't have its cake and eat it too. Instead, it must continually iterate, improve, and adapt year after year— like every health-care profession. This includes the MBLEx and other entry-level examinations. Back in 2005, the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) was formed. Among its first projects: create an assessment that standardizes the baseline knowledge and aptitude required to practice effective massage therapy. To do that, FSMTB realized the test must be developed in partnership with massage content experts, massage practitioners, and psychometricians (experts who help ensure exam questions measure mental capacities and questions are developed in a fair, equitable style). As a result, the profession quickly recognized the MBLEx as the industry standard for I remember the first time I rode in an airplane: I was about 8 years old and my family (who lived in southern Colorado) was flying to California. I was lucky to sit in the window seat next to my grandmother. She pointed out rivers that looked like arteries, billowing clouds as tall as skyscrapers, and gigantic mountains that looked like anthills from the sky. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. Now as an adult, I can be a nervous f lyer (something I have to do often). I still grab the window seat because I think of my grandmother and that first f light. Still, thoughts of faulty engines and human error creep into my mind. Then I settle myself by remembering that pilots are professionals with years of education, thousands of practice-f light miles under their belts, tested by hands-on training, and proofed by passing an entry-level examination. They are professionals who met and exceeded the standards set by their field. I'm eased because I know I'm safe and in reliable hands. While massage therapy is vastly different from aeronautics, a requirement to demonstrate mastery of at least agreed upon minimal levels of knowledge and skill is very similar. Competence for massage therapy begins with education, extends to hands-on training hours, and finishes with entry-level examination—in this case, the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). Like most, if not all, health-care professions, entry-level examination is a necessary component and final indicator of a practitioner's knowledge and a public- ABMP LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY Elevating the Profession: What's in a Test? By Lance Hostetter both entry to practice and licensure. This remains true today. So, it's puzzling that factions of folks from across the profession are now questioning examination out of one side of their mouth and pleading for more respect out of the other. The shortsightedness of this argument places massage therapy in a tough spot: We are health care, but some in the industry don't want to do the things other health professions do. We must move away from harmful discussions that involve lesser or no entry- level exams altogether. The MBLEx is the industry standard because of its rigor, because of its comprehensiveness, because of the thoroughness of its development, and because it ensures a certain level of public safety. Moving away from the exam would put the profession in reverse. Let's keep moving forward together. Lance Hostetter is the ABMP director of government relations. To contact ABMP government relations, email ABMP Government Relations Director Lance Hostetter

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