Although RMTs have the privilege of self-governance, and therefore are able to elect fellow members of the profession to CMTBC’s Board of Directors to perform those governance duties, it may be difficult to know who to vote for.
Last year, RMTs expressed interest in learning more about the candidates, and getting additional information about each candidate beyond what was presented in the candidate bios. (This year’s candidate bios can be viewed on the 2018 Board Election page.)
This year, therefore, we decided to help RMTs with this important choice by asking each of the four candidates – in alphabetical order, Jana Konkin, Nick Legault, Jennifer Lie, and Rodney Victor – for their answers to a few questions about the role of the regulator and current issues facing the profession.
Here are the questions, followed by each candidate’s answer. To be fair to all candidates, their answers are presented in varying order from question to question. Except for some very minor typographical editing for consistency and clarity, the answers below are presented exactly as received.
Question 1: Some RMTs feel that there is a tension between massage therapists and the College as their governing body. Do you agree? If you do, why do you think this tension exists and what, if anything, should the College do about it?
Jana Konkin: I would agree that there is tension between some therapists and the CMT, but certainly not all. I think RMTs sometimes feel frustrated because they do not understand why things are being done as they are, or are being changed. The College has taken some steps towards explaining things more clearly – the new website is a good example of this – and I think more of this kind of communication will help to ease any tensions that exist.
Rodney Victor: It’s reasonable that there is tension between some therapists and the College. There’s also tension between some therapists and other therapists. It might be surprising if there were none. This profession is many people’s livelihood. It’s not possible to keep everybody in such a diverse group of people happy, because there are lots of important issues to deal with. That said, some proactive things that the college could do to diminish unnecessary tension are to listen to therapist concerns, and deliver information in a way that is considerate of the people it affects.
Nick Legault: There is a tension between RMTs and the College as a governing body. Many RMTs feel that the College is overly harsh in some requirements of RMTs. It is hard to understand why these requirements are so much higher than other registered provinces. The College should strive to create requirements that serve to protect the public. But these should also be simple, practical and not burdensome for the RMTs. When this is not possible, the College should explain the reasoning for such requirements.
Jennifer Lie: I agree that many RMTs see tension between the two organizations. I believe this tension exists because of the way we were taught to think of them: CMT as the police and RMTBC as our ally. The best course for the college is to focus on bilateral communication with registrants and the association. If something needs to change, provide a thorough rationale; if it’s evidence-based, link to the evidence. This level of transparency will go a long way in helping to build trust.
Question 2: In Ontario, RMTs are now required to get written consent from patients before they can treat “sensitive areas” of the body. Would you like to see something like this in BC? Why or why not?
Jennifer Lie: I do not agree with this policy in Ontario, nor would I like to see it in BC. In my opinion, it creates stigma and reduces our credibility as healthcare professionals. Teaching massage therapy students to discuss the treatment plan with patients and how to obtain proper informed consent before beginning treatment would likely provide a foundation that would see a policy like this being completely unnecessary.
Jana Konkin: I’m not sure that written consent is required. I believe that a patient can give informed consent if the therapist clearly explains what areas are to be treated and why, and that consent can be verbal. This should also include a discussion around draping of the sensitive area. The patient should be informed that consent can be withdrawn if they change their mind. This comes down to clear communication before the patient gets on the table.
Rodney Victor: This is a complex topic. It’s definitely a polarizing issue. Informed consent is so critical to delivering a safe and effective treatment. And “sensitive areas” means different things to different people. From the perspective of public safety, would having this extra consent serve the public, or massage therapists? That is the perspective that has to be taken in this case because that is who board members are working for. If this issue were put to a vote, I would be thinking hard about what best serves the public.
Nick Legault: There are potential benefits to getting written consent before treating sensitive areas. With written consent, it is unlikely that the client will misinterpret treatment in a sensitive area. This means a better experience for the client. It also means less risk for the RMT. These are real benefits, but should the College institute a policy? The mandate of the College is to protect the public. Before instituting any policy, the College should show that it would benefit and/or protect the public.
Question 3: How would you go about ensuring that the College has continuing education requirements that benefit the public, and are evidence-based?
Nick Legault: RMTs must be involved in this discussion. RMTs want continuing education requirements that benefit the public and are evidence based. We know effective continuing education improves the name and reputation of our profession. As RMTs we all benefit from high professional standards. And we have a valuable perspective on what makes continuing education effective. While it is up to the College to set these standards, getting feedback from RMTs is critical.
Rodney Victor: Careful consideration needs to be given when deciding on continuing education programs. Thankfully, new research and evidence relating to massage therapy keeps coming out. One great avenue for learning is a presentation of this type of research, such as the Mental Health and the Body Symposium. Another helpful thing is that we can look to other health care professions for guidance in this regard. The San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training is an example of that.
Jana Konkin: It is important that therapists keep up and expand their hands-on skills as part of life-long learning. The CE material should be taught by experienced practitioners and be based on current research in the field. However, based on complaints from the public, therapists also need to keep up their “PD skills” – things like communication, boundaries, and consent. I think we need both of these elements in our continuing education. I’m glad to see the on-line courses that the College has provided, which are delving into these “PD” related issues, and look forward to seeing more of them.
Jennifer Lie: We should be looking to existing research and considering what other regulated health professions are doing. An evidence-based model should be the standard for entry-to-practice and continuing education requirements, and every treatment plan we create. These requirements should be regularly evaluated to ensure they align with current (and relevant) research. As a means to protect the public, part of a continuing education program should address issues that regularly arise during the inquiry and/or discipline hearings. If there is a common theme, charting, for example, RMTs should be required to demonstrate proficiency in these areas to renew their registration.
Question 4: BC’s scope of practice appears to be more limited than that of RMTs in Ontario, where acupuncture and electrical modalities can be practiced. This frustrates some RMTs in BC. What are your thoughts on scope of practice?
Rodney Victor: Scope of practice is one of the issues that highlights tension between some therapists and the College’s board. Again, public safety is of course, the primary concern for the College. When thinking about whether to add a modality to our scope, consider: will the public be safer? Just as safe? These questions deserve some thought. Yes, some practitioners would see great outcomes with these added modalities. Is expanding our scope going to achieve the College’s mandate any more effectively? The answer here does not seem to sit squarely in the “yes” column, and so it deserves some more discussion.
Jennifer Lie: Hmmm, this is a tough one. My first thought, as a BC trained RMT, is that I have never worked with a broader scope of practice but then again, have never felt limited by our BC scope. That being said, if it was deemed to be in the best interest of the public, then I can’t imagine being opposed to looking at changing it. One reason I think I prefer a narrow scope is that we (as a profession) can focus our research efforts specifically on therapeutic massage without worrying about how other interventions may impact outcomes.
Nick Legault: The scope of practice of RMTs should be set in the best interest of the public. If a modality is safe, effective and evidence based, the public could benefit from access to it. The College should consider adding such modalities to the RMT scope of practice. The College mandate is to ensure that the RMTs are safe and effective. Along with excluding unsafe modalities, the College should consider adding safe ones.
Jana Konkin: With the recent change to the definition of massage therapy, I think our scope of practice is quite general and open to interpretation. Any changes to scope of practice would require careful consideration and consultation with other health professions, and should improve the level of care provided to the public. The educational requirements for additions to scope, such as acupuncture, must be considered as well.
Question 5: Have you ever worked on or as a part of a team? What attributes do you think are required in order to make teamwork successful?
Jana Konkin: I have been a Board member of two not-for-profit organizations in the past. We dealt with matters such as budgets, financing of special projects, and conflict resolution. It was not always easy or pleasant, and we occasionally had to make difficult decisions. Through this experience, I have learned to be a good listener, to be respectful of opposing ideas, and to look for solutions that are agreeable to all parties.
Rodney Victor: I’ve played a wide variety of roles on teams and in communities. In more than one setting, I’ve worked in a novice and a leadership position. In my experience, one of the biggest skills a team member can employ is the ability to understand what people are trying to communicate. This means listening, respectfully, with the purpose of understanding. If we can understand people, we can respond appropriately. It seems basic, but it goes a long way in making a team productive.
Nick Legault: I work with a team of 20 RMTs at Kelowna Medical Massage. The most important qualities for teamwork are trust, feedback and collaboration. Members of the team must trust one another to be open, honest and dedicated. Each team member should offer feedback and feel heard. Finally, decisions should be made in a spirit of collaboration. These are the same qualities that are necessary for a governing body to effectively govern.
Jennifer Lie: I have worked as part of a team before. I believe it’s crucial to the success of the team to listen and ask questions. We should also have a good idea of our strengths and weaknesses so that we may know in what capacity we can best help the team succeed. A team member should be curious, engaged, ready to learn, and at the end of the day, genuinely interested in what the team is trying to achieve.