Today we are launching our informative blog series about the innovative concepts that are changing the massage therapy industry. We will talk about new technology and concepts in entry-level massage training that are benefiting not only students but also instructors, employers and the health of the industry.
For the next few weeks we will be talking to Pete Medd, CEO of MPower Education/MassageTherapyOnline about the concepts and benefits of their programs, apprenticeship models, e-learning innovations, and what that means for everyone invested in this industry.
What is your approach to massage therapy training and how did it come about?
Our group consists of several career massage therapists, instructors, current and former school owners and technology and marketing professionals. This gives us a baseline of experience in all aspects of the industry, which has been crucial in building a program that is making a difference.
A few years ago, my co-founder and I realized that a lot of allied health and health related entry-level training was using online delivery to make programs more accessible and affordable and that massage therapy did not have an online option for students.
There is a well-documented shortage of licensed massage therapists. The demand for massage therapy has risen so much over the past few years because new pricing models and innovations on the services side that the public has much greater access to the massage therapy than ever before. It is more accepted as a health and wellness necessity and part of the preventative therapy and is no longer just a luxury experience. So, the demand for the service is increasing but the supply of massage therapists has yet to catch up and our program is designed to help with that.
Can you really learn massage therapy online?
Obviously, massage therapy is a hands-on profession that requires the majority of the training be in-person, hands-on training. The overall training that is regulated for licensing really has two components, theoretical and practical. We created the first hybrid training that shifted the theoretical portion to online e-learning platforms. There are certain required subjects that lend themselves nicely to online learning such as anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, basically all the biosciences as well as business and ethics. Having this portion of the training available online opens it up to so many more students who may not have the flexibility because of job or family obligations to dedicate 9-12 months of in-person, classroom learning. Our program gives them a head-start so that when they do start the practical training, they are well-prepared, well-versed for what comes next.
The quality and innovation of online learning has come so far that is makes sense and gives students a truly quality experience. This is not in any way a shortcut. These days you can get your Harvard MBA online, so the idea that we can’t learn massage therapy theory online is silly and outdated. These are college level courses, accepted and used in 20 states so far and the curriculum has been COMTA endorsed.
What are the benefits of your online program?
We are big believers of innovative delivery and teaching methods. As an industry, we were unable to attract, train and retain people who wanted to become massage therapists because few people had the time and flexibility to dedicate 9-12 months of full-day classroom education. And so many advances have been made in online delivery and education to where now we can have face-to-face interactions between students and teachers through video chat, you can have high frequency interactions on a daily, weekly or bi-weekly basis. These advancements had made their way into other allied health career training so massage therapy could benefit from this. The number one benefit is convenience. You can take these classes any time, any where on any device where there is an internet connection.
Our online experience is very interactive and engaging, the students interact with instructors and each other on a very regular basis. Every student can consume the course and the content at their own pace, creating an individualized learning experience because everyone learns in their own way.
Each subject has several different multi-media aspects, online presentations, instructor-moderated student discussion forums, interactive activities, experiential assignments (not multiple choice/true false) that immerses the students in the real world of massage therapy. These delivery methods are designed to replace the in-person classroom lectures. If you miss a lecture, you are out of luck, but having these training resources online, students can revisit them at any point.
Our program, like all massage therapy programs, is competency-based, so we work with the students until they understand the topics. We don’t punish a student for not passing a quiz, we work with them within the system to make sure they understand the topics. This delivery system supports those competencies, which is the goal.
One of the biggest advantages to our program is the ability to lower costs, keeping tuition prices and costs to students lower than traditional massage schools through the use of digital technology. We also have an apprenticeship program and work with employers to offer scholarships (this will be covered in follow-up blogs, stay tuned), closing the gap between schooling/entry-level training and employment, accelerating the process of student to employment while saving money.
“We at MPower/MassageTherapyOnline are passionate about bringing more people into the profession of massage therapy by leveraging technology to make it more accessible and more affordable.”