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Massage Therapy Canada launches annual Business Forum

massageforum.jpgSept. 16, 2014 –  Massage therapy professionals, products and service providers gathered in Burlington, Ont., September 14 for the first annual Massage Therapy Canada Business Forum.

From personal health and wellness and professional networking to research and practice management, the one-day event was packed with information and networking opportunities for massage therapy practitioners.

September 16, 2014  By Mari-Len De

“This Business Forum is a great step forward (for the profession),” said
Andrew Lewarne, executive director of the Registered Massage Therapists
Association of Ontario. Lewarne delivered the luncheon keynote address
to more than 80 attendees.

Lewarne pointed out massage
therapists, especially those fresh out of school, are often lacking the
business knowledge essential to ensure their success in practice.

are typically left to fend for themselves when it comes to the
development of their practice,” he said, stressing that running a
massage therapy business requires more than just practice skills.

his keynote address, Lewarne outlined some of the RMTAO’s priorities
this year, including greater access to business resources for RMTAO
members and expansion of community-based networks, for both members and
non-members, designed to increase collaboration and sharing among
practitioners in a community.


Through these community-based
networks, RMTs will potentially have the ability to “advocate
collectively in the grassroots level.”

“We need to work together for common good and community networks need to be a part of that,” Lewarne said.

urged Business Forum attendees who are not members of the RMTAO to be
part of the provincial association and take advantage of the its
services and resources. There are currently more than 12,000 registered
massage therapists in Ontario, and only less than 50 per cent are
members of the RMTAO.

He encouraged new graduates to “embrace the community,” seek advice from experienced practitioners so they don’t feel isolated.

Roblin, health and wellness consultant, also spoke to attendees about
achieving personal health for the busy practitioner.

She said health practices have to be “easy and simple” so they can be integrated into a practitioner’s daily life.

“When was the last time we just closed our eyes and asked, ‘what one thing can I do to support my body today?’” she said.

offered some suggestions for massage therapists to achieve sustainable
health, such as not just giving massages but getting regular massages as
well, respecting their bodies’ limits, balancing work, giving the body
proper time to heal and engaging in fitness programs.

Reality check
Don Dillon, a RMT, author and speaker, provided Business Forum attendees some food for thought about the realities of practice.

said new graduates typically have a notion that being self-employed is
the direction they should take when starting practice.

“Employment is often criticized and overlooked, but don’t dismiss it yet,” said Dillon.

said, to succeed in business RMTs need capital, contacts, competence
and commitment (4Cs). Very rarely would a massage therapist fresh out of
school have all these criteria to launch his or her own practice fresh
out of school.

However, one can work toward acquiring these elements over time, he pointed out.

Dillon urged attendees to keep an open mind when it comes to business and employment options that are currently available.

your model is not working for you, change your model,” he said, citing
the spa industry and membership-based massage as examples of models that
can potentially be viable for RMTs. These employers, he said, can
provide the four Cs required to operate a successful business.

urged the RMTAO to work with these employers and start building
relationships with them to ensure the welfare of association members.

acknowledged the negative image of the spa industry among massage
therapy professionals, but pointed out the spa industry played an
important part in the development of massage therapy in the health and
wellness space.

“I would really like to see us stop fighting with
each other,” he said. “The public is not confused – we’re confusing the

Research literacy
Toronto-based research enthusiast
and RMT Jennifer Bloch shared some insights to Business Forum
participants about research literacy and using it to enhance
professional credibility.

“It’s not easy to build credibility,” she said. “We need patience to be able to do it, and do it well.”

said there have been some debates within the profession about tradition
or experience versus evidence-based practice, but stressed massage
therapy professionals “absolutely need both.”

Research literacy
enables a practitioner to communicate the details of a particular
treatment with the patient. It also allows the RMT to better collaborate
with physicians about a certain condition or treatment options.

matter how much you know, explaining it to the people is a very
different thing,” she said, and research literacy provides that ability
for informing a patient or another health professional not just that a
particular treatment worked, but why and how it worked.

She said
there are currently a number of resources available for the RMT to
increase their knowledge on research, including the College of Massage
Therapists of Ontario, the RMTAO, Registered Massage Therapists of B.C.
and the Massage Therapy Foundation. There are also easily accessible
published research that are available online, she said.

“The more you become research literate, the more easy it will be to understand what you’re reading,” Bloch said.

Note on compliance
Forum attendees were also given a crash course on record keeping
compliance by Andrea Collins, an educator, author and RMT.

Collins covered three important aspects of record keeping: general practice records, regulatory records and financial records.

regulated health professionals, RMTs deal with a number of regulatory
compliance requirements, not just from the CMTO. They also deal with
privacy and personal information compliance, under the Personal
Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the provincial
Personal Health Information and Protection Act, as well as Canada
Revenue Agency, among other things.

She says the CMTO website is a
great resource for finding samples of forms needed to ensure
compliance, reminding RMTs to keep to the bare minimums but pursue best

“If we just do the minimum compliance, are we going to gain credibility? No,” she said.

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