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I’ve just been trawling through the programme documents of other programmes at Polytech to see if anyone has developed units that we can use in our new programme.

Something that’s really struck me is that that the level of Anatomy and Physiology that we teach in our Diploma of Massage Therapy is very high relative to other programme in the health group at Otago Polytechnic. In the current draft of the new two year programme we have 45 credits (450 hours) of Anatomy & Physiology, 30 credits (300 hours) of Musculo-skeletal Anatomy, and 8 credits (80 hours) of Pathology. If I compare that to the three year Bachelor of Nursing, they cover 33 credits (330 hours) of Bioscience, Anatomy & Pathology combined. The Bachelor of Midwifery has 32 credits (320 hours) of the same. Other departments (Occupational Therapy, Sports Institute programmes) have considerably less.

It’s worth noting that the reason we teach the level of A&P that we do is that the NZQA National Diploma of Therapeutic Massage that the last incarnation of our programme was modelled on had 44 credits of A&P, and 23 credits of Anatomy.  With the national diploma falling off the framework and the subsequent move in the industry towards a contemporary set of standards for massage education it’s a good time to reconsider if this level of Anatomy & Physiology is optimal for massage therapy programmes in New Zealand.

I was pondering this last night, and I thought I’d call my friend Nicholas Aitcheson. Nick is a physiotherapist who uses quite a bit of massage in his work, and has done some teaching for us on the subject of kinesiology. Nick said that a physiotherapist in New Zealand will currently study the following subjects relevant to A&P & Anatomy during their 4 year qualification.

1st year – 30 credits of Biochemistry, 30 credits of Biology
2nd year – 30 credits of Physiology, 30 credits of Anatomy
3rd year – 15 credits of Anatomy

This makes a total of

  • Physiology – 60 credits at Level 5 / 30 credits at Level 6
  • Anatomy – 30 credits at Level 6 / 15 credits at Level 7

With this as a benchmark, and with the emergence of massage degrees in New Zealand, the level of Anatomy & Physiology and Anatomy education that we teach as part of our qualification no longer seems excessive to me. It’s vital to the future of the massage industry that we reach parity with other healthcare providers if we are to integrate our profession into the mainstream health model.

Although maybe we should consider increasing our Pathology component????