Below is an excerpt of an article found in “Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage Magazine.” The story outlines the amount of education and training required to earn a Registered Massage Therapist credential in Ontario, Canada.
First I guess I should explain what massage is in Canada, because it is not the same as it is here in New York. Massage in Ontario is a full medical profession that requires a science prerequisite to even apply. Most candidates are already college graduates by the time they enter the program, and the field is attracting the kind of student that would want to be a nurse practitioner or physical therapist. The program itself is science based, and has a scope of practice similar to that of a physical therapist state-side. We, as massage therapists in Ontario, took blood pressure, temperature and special tests for physical problems on a daily basis. Our place is firmly set as the gateway to the health care continuum. Patients with physical problems are assessed and checked for red flags, and if it is something that can be triaged on-site within the therapist’s scope, we treat. If not, they are referred out to the appropriate professional.
The value in the Canadian program lies specifically not just in the treatment, but in the ability to act as medical professionals who can prevent those with physical problems that do not require a doctors attention from actually going to the doctor, while at the same time recognizing those folks with symptoms such as high blood pressure, early signs of disease, or pre-stroke symptoms and getting them attention right away. In Canada, treatments are designed to fit the problem. We do not specialize in modalities. If you had to give the style a name the best description would likely be classical rehabilitative manual therapy and movement.
When I applied to the Ontario RMT program, which is 2300 hours of education, I had already been to college and taken pre-med classes, but even for me the school was challenging. It’s not just the content that is difficult, but the methodology of the structure, which forces you into critical thinking patterns. Once you have learned a skill, or piece of information, it is free game to show up anywhere as questions on the test, while about facts, are also about the application of information given outside forces. You must constantly compare what you know to “what if this happens”; always looking at a thousand-and-one possible outcomes….because it might show up on a test.
To give you an idea of the educational environment I can share with you this example: I remember clearly going to my teacher after another girl and I had done poorly on a practical test where we were asked to perform a fifteen-minute treatment for rehabbing an iliotibial band syndrome in a sub acute stage of healing. In such tests we would be asked to show a treatment with massage, exercise on the table, stretching, and home care broken down into carefully timed segments, always obtaining the appropriate medical consent highlighting the risks and benefits of treatment. We were furious as our school was highly competitive for grades. Our complaint was that we had never learned the particular condition we had been tested on. Our teacher was completely unsympathetic to our issue and let us know that ‘given that we knew the anatomy and friction syndromes in general we should be able to figure it out and that we could not always expect things to go as planned in treatment so we had best get used to thinking about things and doing our best’. So lesson learned in RMT School; you can get tested on things you do not know—and pass—as long as you can critical-think your way out of them. Critical thinking is the passing grade.
The Canadian RMT program teaches college level anatomy, pathology, and clinical skills such as range of motion, charting, medical shorthand, and strong communications skills. It teaches assessment of conditions, and the ability to accurately define an injury into acute, sub acute and chronic. It runs over two years, with multiple internships in clinical settings. The program ends in a 2-day extensive government test (OSCE). Day One is a written exam and the second day is a manual exam designed to test your safety and critical thinking for real world application in a medical setting. It’s the kind of test that makes you weak in the knees. It is a program that prepares you to be able work with stroke patients in hospitals, breast cancer patients, hip replacements and general therapeutic care from day one.
Read the complete story “Massage in NYC, My journey – Part One”