Okanagan Valley College of Massage Therapy in Vernon has been awarded the honour of being the first nationally accredited massage therapy program in Canada.
After years of negotiation by regulators and professional associations across Canada, national accreditation of massage therapy programs became available in spring 2017 through the Canadian Council for Massage Therapy Accreditation.
“We knew we wanted to move ahead immediately,” said Roxanne Petruk, executive director at OV. “Massage therapy schools in B.C. have been regulated through the CMTBC up until now, but we recognized the need for national regulation of massage programs across the country.
“Students need to be assured that they are receiving high quality healthcare education that will prepare them to deal with a multitude of conditions.”
Therapists require a solid science base, clinical skills in assessment and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, research literacy and education in healthcare ethics, not just manual skills.
“There is a great deal of knowledge and skill in the profession of massage therapy, and we need to ensure safe effective healthcare for all patients,” said Petruk. “B.C. is one of four regulated provinces in Canada so you run into less fly-by-night education programs here, although we are not free from courses lasting only weeks and promising students will be “massage specialists.”
There is no such thing as specialization in massage therapy as yet, and therapists having specific areas of focus must first attend a registered massage therapy program and pass the provincially regulated exams. They can then focus on a specific area of practice.
Students need to look for programs lasting two years that are accredited through the Canadian massage therapy council for accreditation, or under the older regulation of the CMTBC.
“National accreditation ensures quality education across provinces and we are the flagship program to achieve accreditation through this stringent process,” said Petruk. “Many students think that they have to go to the Lower Mainland to pursue their massage therapy education and that is just not the case.”
OV’s program has been in place since 1994, and provides students with excellence in massage therapy education and a wide clinical experience through its longstanding relationship with Vernon and Kelowna clinical sites.
“We are very excited to have achieved this first in Canada recognition as it’s a big deal in the massage therapy world,” said Petruk. “I think it shows our commitment to providing the highest quality massage education today.”