It is one of those odd-numbered years where we all start thinking about renewing our massage licenses and our continuing education requirements. In addition to the stress and confusion of a normal renewal year, we have added a pandemic to the mix. COVID has many massage therapists anxious about the idea of sitting in a conference room with two hundred colleagues and continuing education providers trying to find ways to safely host classes.
I know there is a concern because I have started getting some emails with mild panic because the board is not waiving hours for 2021. While that is true, they are not waiving hours (yes, some states have in the last year), they have made provisions to allow some alternate forms of obtaining the classroom hours in a distance learning format. Personally, I believe the board quickly took action last year early in the pandemic and added the below language to the Board rules…
Notwithstanding any other provision of this rule, for the 2019-2021 biennial renewal period, all CE required by this rule may be completed by distanced learning.
(64B7-28.009(4)(g), Florida Administrative Code)
What is “Distance Learning”?
Then that leaves me, and I am sure some of you, with a few questions about what “distanced learning” is. It is not easy to find out a lot about the changes right now. The board website does not have much about it just yet. Here is the continuing education page.
However, here is an email from the board in August 2020. I assume this went out to all providers. It provides a little bit more information.
“This rule provision will allow you to offer courses typically required via classroom instruction (in the presence of an instructor and including hands-on participation by the licensee and/or demonstration by the instructor) by distance learning for this biennium.
If you offer a course in the “hands-on” category, and will be offering the same content via distance learning for this biennium, you need to re-register the course under an additional course code to ensure that licensees are able to find your ‘hands-on’ course as a distance learning course, and so that you are able to report course completion via distance learning.”
What kinds of distance learning are allowed?
There are many available platforms and delivery methods encompassed by the term distance learning; the rule does not enumerate specific platforms or methods to allow flexibility for providers with differing available resources, or who already have some familiarity with specific platforms.
However, the rule also specifies that other requirements are still in effect. You will need to consider how to best offer your course via distance learning, so that it still meets the other minimum requirements of a hands-on course (e.g. How will I provide demonstration? How can I confirm that my participants have met the learning objectives of my course?).”
This is all the information I currently have on this matter. I know it isn’t a lot and may not answer all of your questions about distance learning. Updates to this post will be made as we all learn more.
FloridaMassage.com Courses for 2021
I do not offer any live courses on FloridaMassage.com. As of now, I also do not anticipate offering distance learning hours during this renewal. However, I will still be offering general hours online for this renewal. Courses can be found on this page. Courses included:
Where Can I Find Approved Distance Learning Courses?
I hope to have a course calendar and set up some partnership opportunities with providers I can confidently refer people to with board-approved distance learning opportunities, as well as live/in-person course options. If you are offering live or distanced learning courses this renewal period, let me know.
Please do your research to make sure the course you take or are offering is properly designated. I have yet to find a way to check this special designation CEBroker’s website.
Can I Still Take Live/In-Person Courses?
If you feel comfortable in a classroom setting, you can complete your in-person, relevant, live, hands-on (or whatever you call them) courses, well, in-person. I know many providers still plan to offer live, in-person continuing education courses this year. And I know many other massage therapists prefer and plan to attend live courses.
What If This Is My First Renewal?
If this is your first renewal, you should not need to worry about “distance learning”. Even before COVID-19 flipped our world upside down, first-time renewals were able to complete all of the required hours online without the “in-person” requirement. Make sure you complete a prevention of medical error course and a human trafficking course (if you haven’t already). Remember, your hours are pro-rated. So, you need one hour for every month you have been licensed. From my understanding, this means if you got licensed in January 2021, you should need eight(8) hours to renew your license. I have a chart on our renewal information page for you.
Do your research, plan ahead, and stay healthy!
Thinking about 2023? Since the 2021 renewal deadline has passed, all of the specially approved distanced learning courses have expired from what I understand. For 2023, it looks like (for now) it will be a normal renewal cycle.