“Scope of Practice is a terminology used by national and state/provincial licensing boards for various professions that defines the procedures, actions, and processes that are permitted for the licensed individual. The scope of practice is limited to that which the law allows for specific education and experience, and specific demonstrated competency. Each jurisdiction has laws, licensing bodies, and regulations that describe requirements for education and training, and define scope of practice.” via Wikipedia
In my world a Scope of Practice is the guideline by which I work. It is essential to my everyday work and how I run my business. Client safety is the number one reason a state decides to regulate something. The State Board of Massage Therapy was created to protect the public (that’s you). As a licensed massage therapist it is my duty and responsibility to follow the rules and guidelines written out in our State Law. I do this proudly. I will do this until I am no longer able to be a massage therapist. I will share information to other massage therapists who need help learning our law and rules.
Client safety and my license’s integrity mean more to me than any amount of money.
Why am writing about this? In some massage therapy Facebook groups topics are discussed daily. I rarely participate but always take notes and follow resources in order to learn. The other day I jumped in on a discussion. The group is an “open” group meaning anyone, even non-members can see/read all questions and comments. The way Facebook works if I comment on someone’s status FB will show that in some of my friends’ newsfeeds. I’m guessing to encourage more engagement. Some of you are my Facebook friends. It’s possible some of you may have been led to this very heated discussion.
This person posed a question that basically ended with “how will a client know if we aren’t qualified? How will a client know if we are practicing out of scope?” He/she said he/she didn’t feel like taking the time to look up the rules and regulations every time a new technique came around. He/she didn’t think our scope of practice should matter if we knew how to do other things. “Why does everyone make a fuss about scope of practice when we could learn other things?”
I go really offended by this. This makes all of us law-abiding therapists look bad. I decided to take the risk of some of you seeing this discussion and began commenting. I spoke the truth: “If you don’t care about scope of practice maybe you should stop practicing.” I was accused of being harsh. What I couldn’t get over was this person was suggesting we overlook client safety in order to do what we want. I couldn’t just let this go. I was polite, yet stern about how I felt.
I want you all to know your safety is important to me. I read up on diseases, disorders, pain, massage research, and countless other things all with you in mind. What can I do to make things better for you? How can I help? Is something I’ve been doing harmful?
I follow my laws, rules, and regulations. It is any licensed person’s responsibility. It’s true a client might not know if I’m doing something “out of scope.” Most people don’t go around reading state law and who should be doing what and who shouldn’t. This is where integrity comes into the picture. I have a license on my wall. To me it doesn’t just say, “I passed my test and pay my dues every year.” It says “I promise to uphold the state law, I promise to work within my scope of practice, I promise to put your safety first.”