Location: Indiana, United States

I became a Professor Emeritus after serving 29 years as a recreational therapy faculty member at Indiana University. I'm a long-time Hoosier, having grown up in Hanover, Indiana. My RT practitioner work was in psych/mental health. After completing my Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, my first faculty position was at the University of North Texas. RT has been a wonderful profession for me as I have had the opportunity to serve as an author and national leader.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Lack of RT Curriculum Reform

Over the years, much of my writing and research has focused on the need to reform recreational therapy professional preparation programs. As ATRA president, I was able to bring about a curriculum conference in the mid-1990s. Resulting work lead to ATRA publishing a 1997 document that provided competency/curricular guidelines. Another curriculum conference was held last year but little has seemed to have evolved from it. This is too bad at a time when three levels of preparation are crying for reform. First, there needs to be agreement on guidelines for entry-level curricula. ATRA's 1997 competency/curriculum guidelines and McGree and Skalko's (2001) pilot study on entry-level competencies appeared to provide a strong foundation for entry-level reform. Yet, the profession has not been developed guidelines for entry-level preparation. Second, no helping profession can develop without advanced or master clinicians to move practice forward. It is apparent that master's level curricula need to produce clinicians for advanced practice. Research (Austin, Kastrinos & Stumpt, 1998) identified the existance of 40 some healthy master's programs. This research suggested there was much room for improvement in the preparation of master's students at these institutions. Yet, these universities have failed to provide consistency in master's preparation. Finally, there are less than 10 universities preparing Ph.D. students in RT. Even these institutions have not joined together to make sure future faculty have the type of preparation needed to advance the profession.

The profession is failing its students and handicapping itself by a lack of curricular reform. I plan to read and think more about the issue of curriculum reform and to use the RT blog as a means to urge action.


Blogger RT Pirate said...

Houser RT has identified one of the most pressing issues in the field....quality and consistent professional preparation.

Personallly, it is time for RT professional preparation to separate from parks and recreation into its own entity. Until RT faculty and the designed curricula put the consumer and the RT profession first and foremost with regard to professional preparation, we will remain in trouble and continue to produce just passable professionals.

Perhaps it is time to evolve in congruence with our allied health peers. If we are to compete in the health care environment, our entry level professional must possess a similar educational experience...It is time to make a Master's degree the entry level requirement. This cannot happen over night but it is past time to consider a plan of action to move the profession and professional preparation forward.

This does not mean that the Bachelor degree does not have a place, entry into a graduate program requires pre-requisit clinical skills. There are wonderful opportunities to create feeder programs for RT graduate degrees.

Finally, I will assert that the contiinual turn-over in our discipline be reduced by the emergence of a graduate level entry program for practice.

9:19 AM  

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