Our curriculum is the result of many hundreds of hours of planning and refining and is based on the latest developments in the massage industry, including preparing for regulation in Alberta.
We equip our grads with the knowledge and skill they will need to be thorough, skilled, and effective therapists.
New National Standards
We know that when massage is regulated as a profession in Alberta, the province will require therapists to have graduated from a 2200-hour diploma program. Already major insurance companies are requiring therapists to have 2200 hours of training if their clients want to have their treatments covered by their insurance plans.
What is the significance of 2200 hours? The short answer is that is approximately the time a student will spend in the classroom and clinic during a two-year course that teaches the skills of professional massage. In the case of blended learning, independent study hours are also included.
But there is such variation in the level and effectiveness of curriculum, instructors, materials, and textbooks from one school to another that “number of hours” seems to be a questionable measure of a quality program.
As a profession, massage has been moving toward measuring the accomplishment of therapists in terms of competencies rather than classroom hours. We think this makes a lot more sense.
For several years, the Consortium of Massage Therapy Regulators has been meeting to develop practice competencies—what a therapist should be prepared to know, understand and put in practice. When that list was complete, they developed a very detailed set of performance indicators—assessment tools to judge these competencies and whether a graduate is safe to begin their practice.
Their final document (PDF) released in June 2012, provides what the consortium calls a curriculum blueprint for schools to follow, expressed in terms of achievement rather than classroom or program hours.
At MH Vicars, we had been watching this process closely, and reviewing our own curriculum to see where it differed from this new national standard. We had already modelled our program after the challenging Ontario curriculum, so there were relatively few changes to make to the content of our program.
We now express topics and learning goals in the language of the IJ document, so it will be easier for regulators in other provinces to assess our graduates’ transcripts. We added to the curriculum to include competencies that we had not taught before, such as some hydrotherapy techniques.
The biggest difference in our curriculum, beginning in September 2013, will be the expansion of our supervised public clinics to a minimum of 200 hours over the course of the program. Our monthly classes will be four days—Thursday through Sunday—instead of three, to allow for this. The weekly classes will devote one day per module to preparing and delivering the public clinics offered by their class.
Our print and online materials have been updated to the new standard, and our instructors have been prepared for the new topics. The new curriculum will be ready for classes beginning in September 2013.
The path to regulation of the profession of massage therapy in Alberta has been long, but we know this much: massage therapists will be regulated, and MH Vicars grads will be ready.
In first year, the focus is on the basics of anatomy and physiology as they are applied in massage therapy, and on wellness massage techniques, with an emphasis on safety and effectiveness. We approach each class from a multimodal learning model, with opportunities for auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning.
• Massage theory and patient safety
• Learning anatomy through movement
• Swedish massage techniques
• Intro to non-Swedish massage techniques
• Intro to hydrotherapy, chair massage
• Student clinics
Between classes in first year, you will be extremely popular in your neighbourhood—you need to give practice massages free of charge to your friends and family at least twice a week.
In second year, students continue to develop as therapists, focusing on assessing and treating dysfunction and injury, understanding contraindications and treatment adaptations and the value of massage in alleviating symptoms and promoting the body's own healing. They develop their all-important clinical judgement throughout this year. More specific and specialized techniques are taught, and students prepare for a smooth transition to clinical work by completing 200 hours of supervised massage as part of our regular student clinics.
Second year builds on what you have already learned, adding:
• Physical orthopedic assessment
• Treatment planning
• Remedial exercise
• Pathology (independent study)
• Palpation and musculoskeletal anatomy
• Therapeutic massage techniques
• Building your business, including business plans
• Student clinics
We have built our curriculum around the competencies required for success on the MTAA and MTAS (Saskatchewan) entrance exams and to the new national standards, but the curriculum goes significantly beyond these core requirements. Our curriculum developers have used their many years of experience and the latest research and writing about massage to create excellent instructional materials and lesson plans.
Keeping up with reading, the independent learning assignments, and other off-campus work is essential, but you can’t complete your assignments without attending the classes where the topics are introduced, and techniques are demonstrated and practiced under direct supervision. That’s why attendance at all scheduled classes is mandatory. It is our policy that students who have missed more than a certain number of days will not pass their year.