Alexa Zaledonis on the new NCBTMB Board Approved Continuing Education Provider Program

by Alexa Zaledonis

Have you ever had a formal dinner party for friends only to find out that suddenly six of the twelve people either have food allergies, are vegan, vegetarian or just really hate mushrooms? Well, the dinner is still amazing and made with great care; you just have to step back, organize the meal a bit, whip up some of Aunt Mabel’s mashed cauliflower and pour some more wine.

Many carefully planned recipes are tweaked after preparation. By listening, by communicating and by evolving based on feedback, before you know it, the recipe is better than it was originally.    

That’s how I feel about the new Board Approved Provider Program.  Sure, we may make a tweak after we all sit down and dig in…but overall I’m certain we’ve carefully prepared a great program.   

The profession identified a need.

The start of the process began May 2011 during the Massage Approved Provider Panel meeting held in Chicago.  Industry leaders, approved providers, state regulators and schools got together to discuss the issues and needs surrounding quality continuing education.  NCB continued the discussion with many of the individuals throughout the process of defining the new Board Approved Provider Program.

The industry said time and time again, “The CE program needs a major overhaul. We have to come up with a way to validate all continuing education. We need a program with guts—to set guidelines to separate the quality CE from the not-so-much.” Many wise industry leaders contributed to the development of the program, helping create and define the new program, right down to the application and vetting procedures. 

CE providers helped.

Continuing Ed providers, both those who teach online and offline, helped us refine the application to make it as user friendly as possible.  Even the creation of the rubrics used to evaluate online courses was a shared process with respected leaders in the profession.

Paperwork is never fun, so we got rid of the paper.

Ok, so the application still exists, but at least it’s paperless. You’ll find our forms and applications for all the programs are now paperless via our new website.

We look forward to adding even more to the program in the coming year--student online evaluations, the possible use of video, streamlined audit techniques and more.  

Program Details are listed on our site

You’ll find more information online, including information pertaining to the following:

  • Background Checks
  • Timelines
  • Fees/Refunds
  • Approval process
  • Qualifications


Many have requested to see the online, paperless application.  As one program comes to a close and the new program begins, the corresponding form will be available on our new website.  The application was made with simplicity of providing information and was reviewed by several providers and industry professionals.  Until it goes live you can review the qualifications here


If you own or operate a school or seminar company, we understand your concerns regarding the phasing out of organizational status.  We’re actively talking to many of you to glean insights and determine any appropriate steps.  Stay tuned, as this is something we are working on over the next few weeks as we continue to gain input from you.

So, got a great idea to share? Send me an email or comment below. We’re listening, discussing, and reviewing. And pouring. (Please, have a glass.)

Below are answers to a few questions that you have recently asked. For more Q&A, click here.

Q: Why does NCB need to approve the course material from CE Providers? 

A: This new program is in response to complaints about the quality of continuing education. In order to properly assess the quality of the class and the qualifications of the instructor, we are requesting additional information.   The new process will allow each person to upload courses and all supporting documents directly from their computer.  In many instances, if you are using a common text book for your courses, we may currently have the text book on file already. If you have created your own textbook, you will be asked to submit the portions that you are using for your courses.

Q: How & why is NCB conducting background checks?

A: NCBTMB will perform background checks on all Board Certificants and Board Approved Continuing Education Providers. This is to ensure the safety of the public. In today’s market, this step is invaluable in providing the public, students and customers independent verification of your credibility.   NCBTMB has partnered with an outside agency to conduct all background checks.  If you have passed a background check as a Certificant covering the same period, an additional background check will not be required for this program.

Q: What does it cost to have a course evaluated?

A: NCB will vet every course and charge a $25 vetting fee for these reviews, per course.  If you teach a specific course for different amounts of CEs, only the course with the highest number of CE hours needs to be submitted.

Q: How is this new program different than the current Approved Provider Program?  

A: The current program requires an instructor to submit minimal qualifications to teach and a brief description of only one course.  Currently, organizations need only submit the qualifications of only one of their instructors.  The review afforded by the current program is not meeting the needs of the profession.  

Under the new program, more detailed information needs to be submitted for every instructor and each course—the level of review is fundamentally different and more thorough.  Each course taught by each instructor needs to be reviewed and the instructor’s qualification to teach each course needs to be reviewed.




Lisa Helbig's picture
Submitted by Lisa Helbig (not verified) on Thu, 12/06/2012 - 05:57

Hi Alexa,
As a school owner I feel there is a huge problem with this process. Often in the case of school offering continuing education the school owns the course and then has several instructors that teach it. I know I would never allow someone to get an approval to teach a course when I own the material and I know many other schools and organizations agree. The way this is set up allows employees to go and use our materials wherever they choose. This would especially be an issue if the instructor no longer works for the school. This also means it will costs schools thousands of dollars if we need to pay 175 for each instructor and 25 per course plus background check fees for each. while I understand what the NCBTMB is trying to do I think the method is not going to work. when you are dealing with schools it just seems wrong that the same instructors the school hires to teach someone to be a massage therapist must go through so much more to teach continuing education. I feel like there needs to be an organizational approval that can somehow deal with these issues. Schools across the country have requirements by their accrediting bodies for instructors and I don;t know of any who are this stringent and that is for the training that makes them a massage therapist. I implore you and the rest of the board to reconsider your position on organizational approvals. Maybe you could charge a fee and require information on instructors but not take away school approvals and make each instructor have their own approval. It also makes record keeping a nightmare as each instructor would have a provider number so in reality they are offering the course, not the school. I see a few problems right off the bat. For Florida, CE Broker keeps the the info and currently the school uploads the course info. Now that we would not be the provider I am not sure how that would work. New York is similar. Since we can teach CE classes for NY therapists under our current provider number we would no longer have one. Would we be responsible for all of this record keeping since it is no longer our approval or would each instructor be required? Again, this becomes more of an issue when the instructor no longer works at the school. It is not unusual for someone to call for a transcript or duplicate certificate years later. We would no longer be able to that because it is an individuals provider number, not the schools and we could not issue a document with someone elses info. We would not even be able to sign certificates any longer and for the most part schools have more stability that individuals that often teach fo a while and then move on.
Lisa Helbig
Institute For Therapeutic Massage

NCBTMB's picture
Submitted by NCBTMB on Fri, 12/07/2012 - 09:04

Hi Lisa, 

Currently NCB is in discussions with several schools and proprietary teaching establishments regarding the retirement of the new Board Approved Provider program organization status.  The feedback has been extremely helpful and we look forward to "tweaking " the program to address these specific types of establishments.  We appreciate your comments and want you to know that they are heard.  Keep them coming! 

Cheryl's picture
Submitted by Cheryl (not verified) on Fri, 12/14/2012 - 13:55

Dear Alexa,

Here are some items, some of which have been brought up to the NCBTMB:

1. At no time have I ever heard of the NCBTMB invoking their right to 'audit' a provider. If students were complaining about a provider's courses why weren't they audited for the few bad apples?
2. If instructors have no contact with students what is the point of the background check? They would also have no access to the student's information either. In the case of an organization that has to deal with all of the 'administration' of the courses how are you going to perform a background check on an organization? This requirement doesn't work as a blanketed requirement.
3. I have asked this question multiple times and have yet to receive a response - what providers were part of this panel? I haven't yet spoken to anyone that was consulted or part of this process.
4. When will the confidentiality agreements signed by the course reviewers be provided to each provider? The confidentiality agreement is by and between the reviewer and the provider, not between the reviewer and the NCBTMB.
5. How is instructor defined for home study?
6. What if the 'instructor' that wrote the program is now deceased? This by no means invalidates the information provided in the materials.
7. One year to accomplish these new requirements is too short. Since students usually do not complete courses quickly it could be that a student enrolls in a course on December 31st or even January 1 2013 and doesn't complete it until 2015. If that course was not submitted for approval (because there was no finalized process in place) then by virtue of the date on which the student enrolled that course should be accepted regardless of whether it was submitted for approval or not after that date (since it was acceptable at the time of enrollment).

I would be happy to review the provider documentation prior to its release, from the home study perspective. This would allow us to elaborate on what items would likely be problematic so that the NCBTMB can address them prior to going live with the documentation and the confusion that will likely ensue.

Best wishes,


NCBTMB's picture
Submitted by NCBTMB on Thu, 12/20/2012 - 12:44


We have heard your feedback related to our new Board Approved Continuing Education Provider Program.  We assure you we have indeed had numerous conversations with those in the profession and we are committed to ensuring that our program 
1) raises the quality of continuing education and 
2) is not unnecessarily burdensome to providers.  
For Individual Providers:
The purpose of the program is to verify the qualifications of the instructor and match those qualifications to the particular class. It is important that we are able to identify what classes are being taught by which instructors. In order to do this, we principally need 
BASIC course materials and
The instructor qualifications, including passing a national background check
We encourage you to create a profile on our website and review the application.
If you have multiple segments of one course, we will only review the longest course—you do not need to submit every segment you will separately teach. Many smaller courses are taught on the same topic—this will not be overlooked.
The cost to become a Board Approved Continuing Education Provider is $175 (plus $25 for the background check) for 3 years.  Each course will cost $25 for 3 years, or $8.33 per year.
For Organizational Providers:
If you offer proprietary classes and have a teacher-training program to ensure that your instructors teach exactly to your standards, we are considering options for implementation of the program for you.  Be assured that because the new qualifications do not go into effect until January 1, 2014, there is sufficient time for this conversation to take place.
We are also considering how best to implement this program for stored content, such as webinars. 
If your organization expires in 2013, you can renew your organizational status for a prorated fee through December 31, 2013.

Cheryl's picture
Submitted by Cheryl (not verified) on Mon, 12/24/2012 - 09:06

Thank you for your response, however my questions were not answered.

Laurie's picture
Submitted by Laurie (not verified) on Wed, 01/09/2013 - 17:35

Alexa, In reviewing the new procedures for approved providers, I have some comments to make. As a continuing ed provider since 1999, and with an online business supplying approx. 50 CE courses - the new requirements is quite absurd! If I am reading the material correctly, you are not only going to charge a large flat rate to be an approved provider, but will charge to have a background check although as an online provider I have no personal contact with my students. (If you are concerned with the material placed in study courses you have placed huge stipulations in place to review each and every course, this should be sufficient) which brings me to the cost of submitting courses. My business has been open and providing CE home study courses for 3 years now - all of which has been "approved" by the NCBTMB and placed on the NCBTMB website and now you want me to submit each course to you and pay you $25 for each course - that again, I have had available for more than 3 years in this business and 14 years previously - AND this is only valid for 3 years!! Which means I will have to pay $25 x 50 courses every 3 years!!!! Why???? This will cost me thousands of dollars every 3 years for the very same courses! Which I remind you has already been in place and used for over 14 years! Rediculous! This is a professional business I own and is my livlihood! I am very offended that you want to haphazardly come up with hair-brain ideas in sake of my livlihood! It would seem to me that a better idea would be to "grandfather" in those who have already been in business and this way would give the new-comer provider the ability to submit individual courses as they come available for a fee to eliminate the business owner from having to pay a huge amount for several courses at once just because you got bored one day and decided to make changes. And this fee per course should be a ONE time fee! Oh, and by the way. If you guys there at NCBTMB want to make all this mess you can at least return phone calls - it has been several months that I have left messages and have NEVER received a return call - and my students are telling me the same thing. What this comes down to, is you all don't have a clue what you're doing, have no respect for those in the profession and now you want to upset the businesses of those of us who are doing legitimate professional work. Seriously!

NCBTMB's picture
Submitted by NCBTMB on Fri, 01/18/2013 - 09:04

Hi Laurie! We are currently reviewing our provider program. It is not our intent to hurt providers who are doing a great job but it is our intent to insure that CE under the NCB approval is valuable to certificants. I hear your concerns and they will be concidered. Thank you for your feedback.

Tim's picture
Submitted by Tim (not verified) on Tue, 01/15/2013 - 21:18

I have breast cneacr stage IV. Just finished 33 radiation therapy. When I asked my doctor for a complementary medicine he didn't seem to know. I told him how about massage. He replied it would not hurt. I decide to follow my instinct. I called Toni the Massage Therapist . She has been dealing with cneacr patient for ten years. She is affiliated with Memorial Hospital on all casmpuses . I have been received two one hour sessions with Toni. She is terrific. She is gentle and soft spoken. Her touch really relaxes your whole body and at the same time mind. I suggest to all persons who have been thru radiation and want some relief from pain to call on her. She makes suggestions how to deal with your own cneacr while on the massage table.I will call on Toni again. She makes me good and so relaxed.

Eileen Donovan's picture
Submitted by Eileen Donovan (not verified) on Wed, 01/16/2013 - 13:06

How do I apply as a ceu provider for a new program to offer my students ceus in? Cannot find the application form anywhere....How do I access the application process in your new system
Thanks for getting back to me asap
Eileen Donovan, LMT-ARCB

NCBTMB's picture
Submitted by NCBTMB on Fri, 01/18/2013 - 09:03

Hello Eileen, please go to the website, click register at the top of the page and fill out the profile document. Once you complete this you will be able to click "Create a Form" and choose the Approved Provider Initial application. This is a one year renewal because we are currently working on this program. Let us know if you have any other questions. Thank you!

Laurie's picture
Submitted by Laurie (not verified) on Thu, 01/24/2013 - 12:37

Hello again, I previous wrote about my upset with the new guidelines and its impact on my business. However, I have now seen that although I paid for and received my renewed approved provider certificate last year (to expire in 2015) I will need to pay for a new certificate by the end of this year!!! So not only did my money go to waste but I will have to face all of this new money guidelines placed on approved providers now. It will cost me thousands of dollars to have all of my 50 home study courses approved and all of the fees. Then I see this will only last TWO years (not the three years) and I will need to pay the thousand dollars again. With the amount of taxes we business owners have to pay to be in business and now with the new stipulations - and of course the background check when we don't even come in contact with students - I will have to close my business, I will not be able to survive. I am a single woman in my 40's, with a slight disability that makes me home bound at times - and a major reason why I have an internet business - this is destroying my life - I have no idea what I will do now. As I said before, either grandfathering in those of use who have legitimate businesses and have been in the business for years or at least making it a tier system - by keeping the national certification the same and then offering the (advanced) board certification would have been smarter. You guys seem to be surprise with all the backlash you have received, did you not realize we are all real people with real lives!

NCBTMB's picture
Submitted by NCBTMB on Wed, 01/30/2013 - 10:20

We are currently working on our AP program. You do not need to renew this year. As soon as the program is reviewed and approved we will send you an email explaining the changes. The program will not be built to hurt you but there may be some stronger guidelines around it. I'm very sorry for the confusion. Thanks! ~Donna

William Raich's picture
Submitted by William Raich (not verified) on Thu, 01/24/2013 - 15:03

I appreciate the more stringent rules for A.P.'s I think it willbe good for the programand the industry as a whole in the long run. That being said I think It would have been a good Idea to invite ALL A.P.s to the meetings mentioned above. I would love to more involved in Board dicisions but I'm not notified or invited to meetings ,not asked for my input, not given a CLEAR way of volentiering to vet, non of that. I feelas though the Board is just Telling Me How it's going to be I would Like more transparency. Who are the people the board consulted with? why wern't all A.P.'s invited? Who do's the Board consider a stakeholder? In short I feel-like a peon being told that This is how it's going to be, and deal with it. I am a small guy trying to make it in Northwest Wisconsin in an undeserved market. My mission is to bring Hands On workshops to the area, and Iv been teaching even with few students. I cant compete with the on-line world as I'm not computer savvy. We are Massage Therapists I think the emphasis should be on Hands ON Continuing Education. I WANT MORE SAY. Thanks for your time. William Raich

NCBTMB's picture
Submitted by NCBTMB on Wed, 01/30/2013 - 10:21

Hello William, You are welcome to apply for the AP/CE committee. I love people that want to participate. Email me directly and I'd be happy to talk. Thank you! ~Donna

Harne's picture
Submitted by Harne (not verified) on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 01:54

I have breast ccaenr stage IV. Just finished 33 radiation therapy. When I asked my doctor for a complementary medicine he didn't seem to know. I told him how about massage. He replied it would not hurt. I decide to follow my instinct. I called Toni the Massage Therapist . She has been dealing with ccaenr patient for ten years. She is affiliated with Memorial Hospital on all casmpuses . I have been received two one hour sessions with Toni. She is terrific. She is gentle and soft spoken. Her touch really relaxes your whole body and at the same time mind. I suggest to all persons who have been thru radiation and want some relief from pain to call on her. She makes suggestions how to deal with your own ccaenr while on the massage table.I will call on Toni again. She makes me good and so relaxed.

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