Five “Secrets” to the FQM’s Success
Decoding the DNA of the leader of massage therapy’s professionalization in Quebec
Think you know all about the FQM? You might be in for a surprise when you read what follows. Ahead of our annual general meeting, which will be held online on June 20, 2020 (invitation to come), we feel the time is right to look back on our mission and our achievements.
But first, why join a professional association of massage therapists?
- Is it only so that you can issue insurance receipts?
- Is it to take advantage of the services offered to members?
- Is it to gain public trust?
These points are important, but to stop there alone would be to miss our core purpose. In fact, if the Federation limited itself to these activities, it would be no different than a business, with the members acting as clients to whom service packages, each more attractive than the last, are sold at the best price possible.
The FQM is so much more than that, as you’re about to find out. Most massage therapists don’t realize the scope, dynamism and depth of its work dating back to 1979. From this perspective, you could say that the FQM’s achievements are “secret” and deserve to be unveiled!
A Visionary and Engaged Community
As you know, the FQM is the only massage therapy association in Quebec that is fully engaged and invested in the professionalization of massage therapy and its integration into the health care system.
While that’s no secret – far from it! – the prevailing belief, among many, is that the FQM simply advocates in favour of a professional order with the Office des professions. Firing off a few emails and documents to authorities, promoting our position on the Web: this would be too easy!
As a matter of fact, the FQM’s engagement is much more far-reaching and dynamic than the pursuit of a professional order, particularly when it comes to education and the creation of unprecedented interdisciplinary projects. The following is an overview of our achievements.
The Real Issue
The project to found a professional order is not an end in itself, but rather a means to professionalize massage therapy in Quebec. Those were the words of our lawyer, Esq. Pierre Gauthier, in 2019, spoken during a presentation given at the annual general meeting. The real issue is the following: How can massage therapists become true health professionals in Quebec? If a professional order is a means of achieving that, we also need to talk about education, interdisciplinary work with the health care system, and high-level professional recognition in the field, from other professions and institutional health directors.
Our Achievements in Education
The FQM’s ultimate goal, when it comes to education, is a massage therapy training established at the college level, overseen by the Ministère de l’Éducation. Why at the college level? Because it is only at this level of education that massage therapy can be integrated into Quebec’s health care system. What’s more, government oversight would further ensure the quality of education across the province.
1. One of the FQM’s little-known achievements is to have repeatedly blocked efforts to have school boards oversee massage therapy. Thanks to our strong advocacy work with authorities, we successfully stayed the course towards college-level training, which could open the door to recognition across the health care system.
2. The FQM’s second great but often misunderstood achievement lies in the creation of massage therapy training standards across a network of accredited schools. Originally, there was no way to guarantee equal training quality and structure in different regions, and no hope of having that training recognized by the government. This may seem trivial today, but the introduction of standards (competency profiles) in massage therapy was nothing short of revolutionary, and it required a colossal effort dating back to the 2000s. The FQM played the role that the Ministère de l’Éducation would normally play if the profession was regulated. The creation of competency profiles to determine teaching content and develop the desired competencies, based on programs, was a great leap forward.
3. In addition, the FQM spearheaded the creation of standards for new advanced training that meets the needs of the health care system. For example, quality massage therapy training in oncology (300 hours), which several schools have begun to offer in the past few years, was established by the FQM in collaboration with experts. The FQM also coordinated the creation of programs and provided quality control with the students.
More recent trainings on chronic pain and seniors were also conceptualized by the Federation and its experts. The FQM thus plays an active part in developing quality training and helps massage therapists integrate into the job market, with the objective of safely meeting the needs of vulnerable clients.
Students in accredited schools are often unaware that the FQM closely collaborated on the creation of their training content and structures. In doing so, the Federation “secretly” played a leadership role in offering quality education in Quebec. This model is a great success, as we receive regular requests to add standards (or competency profiles) for various approaches in massage therapy. Each competency profile involves considerable work, which no other association has sought to undertake to date.
Unprecedented in Quebec: FQM-led Breakthroughs Concerning Integration into the Health Care System
Our fourth achievement – and probably the FQM’s greatest “secret” – is its Fondation de la massothérapie. The Fondation has enjoyed strong growth in recent years, which has paved the way for unprecedented interdisciplinary partnerships in Quebec.
- Who would have thought that certified massage therapists would one day be part of a pilot project with an institution as prestigious as the Montreal Heart Institute?
- Who would have thought that partnerships co-financed by CHSLDs (long-term care facilities) would be possible, and that massage therapists would be integrated into the new CHUM, the Hôpital de Lévis and a growing number of heath care institutions in Quebec?
- How did we succeed in having a massage therapist join a working group on opioids at the University of Montreal?
- What did the FQM do to persuade high-level scientists, like Dr. Serge Marchand, PhD, to give unpaid presentations at our symposia?
The Fondation de la massothérapie’s rapid and dynamic growth since 2011 has opened multiple doors for massage therapists in the health care system. Therein lies the difference: For the FQM, it’s not just about promoting the recognition of massage therapy. We need to work towards demonstrating its benefits out in the field. Along the way, the FQM’s social engagement has drawn notice in high political circles, and trust in massage therapists across health institutions has improved by leaps and bounds.
Managed by the FQM team, the Fondation collects funds and earmarks 100% of donations to massages, which are offered in partnership with an ever-growing number of health institutions.
The Fondation’s achievements are nothing less than a tour de force, made possible thanks to the FQM’s visionary and engaged community, which includes the following:
- The Fondation de la massothérapie’s board of directors, made up of volunteers from the business community.
- The FQM’s volunteer board of directors, mostly made up of seasoned certified massage therapists.
- The FQM’s permanent team, which works with the considerable rigour required of ISO 9001:2015 certification, a mark of trust, that changes everything when it comes to negotiating with health institutions.
- The exceptional massage therapists who demonstrate, each day, that their work is adapted, professional, safe and highly beneficial.
As an FQM member, you not only benefit from our services, but you also contribute in a concrete manner to a wide-ranging social engagement that promotes your professional recognition across the health care sector and advances the profession as a whole.
Our Greatest Strength
If you read until here, chances are you’ve begun to understand why the FQM is so much more than an association offering services to members. You understand that our work has significantly shaped the massage therapy training landscape in Quebec. You see that the FQM’s proactive team and board of directors are constantly setting a course for the future through concrete actions. You realize that you are part of a community of doers, pioneers and leaders. You understand that being a member means contributing to an integrated and transformative major project – massage therapy as health care – that has never ceased to progress, in spite of the challenges that go hand in hand with creating a professional order.
That said, the FQM’s adventure, at the vanguard of the professionalization of massage therapy, is possible thanks to our greatest strength: our members! It is you who lend the FQM the energy and resources it needs to forge ahead. The FQM’s DNA is this synergy of mutual giving that’s been the driving force behind our actions for almost 40 years.
In closing, there is no denying that the year ahead is going to be a difficult one for massage therapists, owing to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Once again, our synergy will be our greatest asset. On the one hand, the FQM continues to innovate in an effort to help you navigate this crisis. On the other, we need you in order to pursue our efforts to integrate massage therapy into the health care system in Quebec.
Thank you for being with us.
The FQM team