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.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

RTs and International Travel

It was my pleasure to have lunch today with former IU colleagues Youngkhill Lee and Bryan McCormick. Both are soon to depart on international trips. Youngkhill is headed to Mongolia, a country in Central Asia that is bordered by Russia and China. Bryan is going to Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey. (Ray West and other more mature RTs may recall that Istanbul was known as Constantinople until 1930.)

It was exciting for me to know that two of our colleagues are traveling to such distant places in the world -- where I am sure they will be spreading the good word about RT. It would be nice to know of other RTs who are doing international work. If you are, I hope you will comment on this post and let us know of your travels.

Learning about the international travel of Youngkhill and Bryan brought to my mind ATRA's International Institute held in Cincinnati in 2000 at ATRA's Annual Conference. All who participated felt the institute was a great event. Perhaps it is time for ATRA to organize another International Institute. What do you think?


Blogger Krista said...

Hello to all Recreation Therapists! Since the completion of my Rec. Therapy classes in 1998 I have not understood the reason that we utilize two terms to describe our profession. I understood the two definitions to a degree but always felt akward trying to describe the two areas of concentration to others, of which was usually followed by a look of confusion given by the receiver. I feel that Recreation Therapy as a whole provides various means of interventions that either at a given moment, or over the course of time, will bring that individual to a higher level of functioning if done properly. I consider myself a Recreation Therapist and have since receiving my certification in 98. I feel that for the good of the field to help others understand what it is that we do as one profession, end the confusion and consider us all as CTRS's practicing Recreation Therapy. Let's move on and work on more important issues such as national recognition, educating the benefits demonstrated through RT and increasing the respect and knowledge of RT to Administration and the public. I think that if we can accomplish this, we will see the increase in the income levels for the Therapy that we provide daily. To many Administrators, we are not needed, not for the completion of documentation, not for the completion of the MDS, not even to plan and implement necessary programming for the population served. There are some individuals without an education, practicing "Activities" that are making just as much money if not more that some of my friends that are CTRS's. We are merely gloried "Activities" professionals to those less educated. It is unfortunate, but true. I have just convinced my Administrator of the benefits of hiring another Therapist for our facility after much explanation, and drilling of the importance and benefits that we bring to those served. I am doing my share of advocacy and education, I just wish that our purpose and strength was recognized at a higher level and recommended by the State and DPW officers that enforce. Recreation Therapy- The Benefits are Endless! So true. We are doing a great job, let's keep going! Thanks, Krista from PA

11:45 AM  
Blogger Kevin Sullivan said...

Just a short note. Since I started working in the field in 1987, I have also been the inquisitor about terminology. Even more unsettling has been the split representation and advocacy created by having two professional organizations. I have watched as music therapy and art therapy suffer through split allegiances by the same duality. Meanwhile the state has licensure has moved forward to now a wopping only three states. We still continue a fight for recognition by CMS and our positions in the healthcare industry become untenable. After recently going through CARF recertification, our exit brief gave our Activity Therapy department high kudos. In the same breath, one of the surveyors stated, "You should be commended for your continuation of your recreational therapy program as many hospital simply choose to 'take the hit' and not maintain the non-generating revenue position." While I understand that the RT vs. TR decision is needed, these other issues are slightly more important to me. I am still aghast that a healthcare organization would rather take a black mark in their certification process than employ a CARF required CTRS.
I have had many interns over the years. The last eight have chosen to leave their CTRS position and return to school for two years for a nursing degree and increase their salary 1.5 to 2 times.
These issues worry me and I have spoken at conferences in our discipline as well as management conferences of nursing and social work concerning the benefits and "endangered species" status of our profession.
We need unification in our field at the national level. We need strong advocacy for recognition. We need to examine how to NOT lose our academic programs due to low numbers of enrollment. I was informed earlier this year that Kent State University is eliminating their program. I watched and fought when my alma mater of the University of Illinois discontinued their program. During my investigation of the lack of enrollment and my visits to local schools for recruiting, the primary answer to not seeking to enter our field was, "Why should I go to school for four years to make less than I can going to school for two?". (I always seem to follw the PT, OT and nursing presentations.)
I Have only one issue with the "RT" designator. In a health care setting, I cannot use it in a chart or on a scheduling board as "RT" is the approved medical terminology abbreviation for Respiratory Therapy.
OK. So much for my short note.
Kevin Sullivan

9:27 AM  

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