RT Blog

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, March 27, 2007

Critical Issues in Higher Ed Remain for RT

In doing some history work, I recently ran across a paper titled "Critical Issues in Therapeutic Recreation Education: Preparing for the Twenty-First Century" that I had authored in 1997 in Expanding Horizons in Therapeutic Recreation (Vol 17, 1 - 9).

One of nine needs identified in the paper was: "The need to examine the structure and content of both graduate and undergraduate curricula, with an eye toward reform. Particular attention should be given to consensus building in regard to competencies needed for practice."

Here we are 10 years later and how much progress has been made toward meeting this need identified a decade ago? Not much, I would say.

In my 1997 paper, I cite a study by Ed Hamilton and I completed in 1992 where, using the Delphi technique, we discovered there existed a high level of agreement on what areas should receive emphasis in undergradute curricula. Yet, even with evidence of common thought on curriculum, little has been accomplished to bring about curriculum reform.

Why has there been a lack of progress in RT curriculum reform? It seems clear to me that there has been a sad lack of national leadership to bring reform about. Let's hope it will not be another 10 years before RT curriculum reform occurs.

Scholarships Available to Southeast TR Symposium

Wayne Pollock, CTRS, is the chair of the Southeast TR Symposium. He recently announced that the Southeast Therapeutic Recreation Symposium (STRS) still has scholarships available for this year's symposium. The symposium will be held July18-20, 2007, at Marriott Gwinnett Place, in Duluth, Georgia. I have attached the application and related information. The deadline for applications has been extended to April 6, 2007.

In addition to the student scholarships, STRS is pleased to again offer a scholarship for first-year practitioners.

The scholarships are intended to make the Symposium available to those students and first-year practitioners who 1.) have a need for financial assistance, and 2.) demonstrate potential to use the knowledge gained to enhance professional practice. The scholarships are "working" scholarships. Those who receive scholarships will assist with various aspects of administering the Symposium. STRS believes this experience will further enhance the student’s or the practitioner’s professional competencies. The scholarships will provide complimentary registration and housing, but will not cover meals (except any included in the registration) and transportation.

If you have questions about the STRS Scholarships please contact Cliff Burnham, Chair-Elect, STRS Board of Directors at the address listed below:

Cliff Burnham
Sky Rehabilitation Hospital
1300 Campbell Lane
Bowling Green, KY 42104
Email: cburnham@skyrehab.com

Monday, March 26, 2007

More Interviewing Tips

Laura Morsch, CareerBuilder.com writer has these tips for those interviewing for positions. The first tip is to arrive early. Being late for an interview can kill your chances before you begin. Next, dress appropriately for the interview. Never "dress down" for an interview. Third, like a good Scout, be prepared. Have a working knowledge of the agency where you are interviewing. Fourth, don't give long, rambling answers. Morsch has written that "many nervous job seekers begin rambling when confronted with a tough question, revealing potentially negative information about their skills or character." Finally, watch your nonverbals. "Even if you say all the right things, your body language can send the wrong message," says Erika Weinstein, president and co-founder of Stephen-Bradford Executive Search. Tapping your pen and fiddling with papers signal to the employer that you are nervous, she says. Slouching and leaning back indicate disinterest."Always remember to smile," Weinstein says. "Friendliness is crucial."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Exercise Environment Important for Older Adults

An AP article has highlighted a recent research study that found that older adults (in their 60s & 70s) prefer to exercise alone or with others their age and ability levels -- rather than with young hard bodies clad in Spandex.

The researcher, Mark Beauchamp, was quoted as saying: "All this study highlights is older adults can exercise in environments that are socially supportive." Beauchamp's study will appear in the April issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

From this research, RTs should take away the understanding of the importance of the environment in motivating older adults to exercise.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Attention Students -- ATRA Contest

Pam Fleck, MS, CTRS, recently sent out an announcement for ATRA student members. ATRA is seeking the creativity of students in identifying a theme and logo for Recretional Therapy Week 2007.

Prizes will be awarded to the winner and all entrants will receive an ATRA bumper sticker. Students have until April 15, 2007, to submit entries to membership@atra-tr.org

JPEG format is preferred when submitting entries. Questions regarding the contest may be directed to Louis Jordan at (703) 683-9420.

National Walk for Epilepsy Expects Thousands

The Epilepsy Foundation is expecting thousands of people to take part in the historic 5K "National Walk for Epilepsy" to raise awareness about epilepsy and money for epilepsy research. The walk will take place on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on March 31, 2007. My wife, Joan, and I will participate.

Also participating will be Greg Grunberg, star of NBC's Heroes. Grunberg is serving as Chair of the National Walk for Epilepsy. New York subway hero, Wesley Autrey, Sr. will also attend.

Stroke Conference in Indy on May 18th

Vicki Scott, MS, CTRS, recently sent out information on the RTI listserve on a stroke conference. The conference title is "2007 Stroke Update: How We Can Make a Difference." It will be held May 18, 2007, at the Ruth Lilly Conference Center at the Marten House Hotel, 1801 W. 86th Street, Indianapolis.

For information, contact Connie Wells at the American Heart Association in Indianapolis at (317) 873-3640.

LaRue Carter RT Position Still Open

Laurie Lee, an RT at LaRue Carter Hospital in Indianapolis, recently sent out the following message on the RTI listserve:

LaRue D. Carter Hospital is re-posting their position for a youth service Recreation Therapist. There was a mix up in positions and criteria. If you have applied for this position, you will need to reapply. All applications will be removed. If you missed the opportunity before, now you have a second chance. Please apply or reapply by March 26 @ http://www.indianastatejobs.org/.
Thank you and sorry for this inconvenience.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Peg Connolly Scholars Applications Due March 30th

ATRA has sent out a reminder in regard to the 2007 Peg Connolly Scholarship Program. Undergraduate and graduate students in therapeutic recreation are encouraged to apply for one of eight working scholarships to the 2007 ATRA Annual Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For details and application information, see http://www.atra-tr.org/conference/pegannouncement.htm

The deadline for electronic submissions is: March 30, 2007.

Psych RT Position Opening in Columbus, Indiana

There is what appears to be an excellent position opening. Columbus Regional Hospital is seeking an RT to join an interdisciplinary team. The RT will plan, coordinate, implement and evaluate RT treatment for psychiatric patients. A bachelor's degree is required. Previous psych clinical experience and CTRS is preferred.

Columbus Regional Hospital is a regional referral center fully accrediated by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and serves a 7-10 county area in Southeastern Indiana. In 2006 the Hospital was named one of Indiana's top 5 "Best Places to Work" by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. CRH offers a highly competitive compensation and benefits package, including the potential for relocation assistance for qualifying candidates.

Columbus, Indiana, is located 45 miles south of Indianapolis and 69 miles north of Lousiville, Kentucky. It is 36 miles east of Bloomington and Indiana University. The city is known for unique architecture, a high quality park system, and its cultural offerings. More information on the community and Columbus Regional Hospital may be found at www.crh.org

If interested, you may email your resume to hrjobs@crh.org or you may call 800.841.4938 x5627.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

ATRA "Day on the Hill" is Success

Early reports indicate that the "Day on the Hill" during the recent ATRA Mid-year Forum in Washington, DC, was a success. ATRA members visited the offices of many Senators and Representatives to inform those in the Senate and House about the need to include RT in treatment and rehabilitation.

It is largely through the efforts of ATRA that RT continues to develop as a nationally recognized profession. If you are an RT and are not an ATRA member, I would urge you to join ATRA today!

Mental Health Problems are Common in Returning Vets

Reuters Health has reported that high rates of mental health disorders are being diagnosed among US military personnel soon after being released from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is estimated that out of 103,788 returning veterans, 25 percent had a mental health diagnosis, and more than half of these patients had two or more distinct conditions. Those most at risk were the youngest soldiers and those with the most combat exposure, Dr. Karen H. Seal at the Veterans Administration Medical Center and associates report in the Archives of Internal Medicine (March 12, 2007).

It is likely that RTs in the VA Hospitals will be treating many of these returning vets dealing with problems in mental health. Best of success to all VA RTs in this effort. I hope that anyone in contact with these vets will let them know that they are supported and appreciated!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

ATRA Mid-Year Coming Up Soon

The ATRA 2007 Mid-Year Professional Issues Forum is almost here. The Mid-Year will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA. Washington, March 11-14, 2007.

The Mid-Year features the "Day on the Hill" when ATRA members go to "the Hill" to talk with members of the House and Senate.

Tips on Conducting an Interview

Here are some tips for RTs on conducting interviews...

Questioning a complete stranger can be awkward and uncomfortable. Remembering some of the traditional social graces that you would use in a social setting can help as you artfully guide the conversation in the right direction.

Put the interviewee at ease. Meet the candidate at the door, extend a friendly handshake, make eye contact and act genuinely pleased to be interviewing the person.

Listen. Not listening is one of the biggest mistakes an interviewer makes. The rule of thumb: The candidate talks 80 percent of the time, and the interviewer talks 20 percent of the time. According to Yate, “God gave us one mouth and two ears. In an interview we should use them in an appropriate way. We tend to sell our companies too soon, too hard.”

Maintain control of the interview. Kanter recommends that interviewers not allow candidates to ask questions for at least the first two-thirds of the interview. To cut off the questions, you can say, “I know you have a number of questions, and I am going to leave some time for them toward the end of the interview. But first I'd like to take some time to learn about you.”

Use silence to your advantage. Uncomfortable with silence, most interviewers will jump in and fill the void. Kanter says, “As a general rule, when you ask a question, you shouldn't be the next person to speak. Give the person an opportunity to formulate an answer and to respond.” Also, states Kanter, “Another time when silence is useful is right after the candidate has answered a question. If you pause just a second or two before asking another question, you're sending a signal to the candidate that you would welcome additional information, and sometimes what the candidate adds after that brief pause is more interesting and less rehearsed than the initial answer.”

Hiring Decisions and the “Halo Effect”
When you like an applicant because you share common interests and viewpoints, you can fall victim to the “halo effect.” It occurs when the personal rapport is so overwhelmingly good that a halo descends upon the applicant and the interviewer automatically endows the person with all kinds of positive traits and abilities. If this happens, the validity of the interview is in serious jeopardy. A good interviewer needs to remain objective and stay on course with tough, challenging questions.

Studies have shown that most interviewers make a decision about a candidate in the first five minutes of an interview and spend the remaining time listening for facts that will substantiate that decision. In addition, too many managers judge candidates solely on their communications and presentation skills, or how they “perform” in the interview — not on how they will perform on the job. The goal of the Controller is to break through the interview persona and carefully assess each candidate.

(Some tips on "don'ts of interviewing" appear in the prior post.)

From: Business Finance Article Archives, "The Art of Interviewing," by Carol Orsag Madijan

Interviewers -- Don't Ask...

I recently ran across this information that I am sharing with RTs that are conducting interviews. If you are interviewing...

Don't Ask ...
Innocent “ice-breaking” questions such as “Do you have children?” and “Where does your spouse work?” can get you into legal trouble. Interviewers need to stick with work-related questions and have a clear understanding of federal and state laws that relate to employment discrimination. Below is a partial list of subject areas to avoid:
Marital status
Parental status
Sexual preference
Military service
Political beliefs

Originally printed in the April 1996 issue of Controller Magazine

Monday, March 05, 2007

Interview Questions for RT Students & Professionals

My post of December 15, 2006, was on the seven toughest interview questions to answer. It was well received. Several RT profs said they had passed on the information to their students.

Today I saw another article on interviewing. I'm posting information from that article with the hope that RT students and professionals will use it. The article was "The Best Questions to Ask in an Interview" by Laura Morsch of CareerBuilder.com

I've rewritten Morsch's questions for RT. Here they are:

About the organization Morsch says that interviewers are interested in candidates who ask questions based on what they know about the organization. Questions to ask:

What do you see ahead for your organization in the next five years?
What do you consider to be your organization's most important assets?
What can you tell me about your plans for growth?
How do you rate your competition?

The position's history Asking about why the position is vacant can provide insight into the organization and the potential for advancement. Questions to ask:

What happened to the last person who held this job?
What were the major strengths and weaknesses of the last person who held this job?
What types of skills do you NOT already have onboard that you're looking to fill with a new hire?

The department Asking about your department's workers and role in the organization can help you understand more about the organization's culture and hierarchy. Questions to ask:

What is the overall structure of the agency and how does your department fit the structure?
What are the career paths in this department?
What have been the department's successes in the last couple of years?
How do you view your department?

The job's responsibilities To avoid any confusion later on, it pays to gain a solid understanding of the position. Questions to ask:

What would you consider to be the most important aspects of this job?
What are the skills and attributes you value most for someone being hired for this position?
Where have successful employees previously in this position progressed to within the organization?
Could you describe a typical day or week in this position? The typical client I would be dealing with?

The expectations To determine how and when you will evaluated, questions include:

What are the most immediate challenges of the position that need to be addressed in the first three months?
What are the performance expectations of this position over the first 12 months?
How will I be evaluated, and how often?

At the end of the interview, don't forget to ask:

What are the next steps in the interview process?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Self-esteem & Self-concept: Self-Views Do Matter

In recent years, self-esteem and self-concept have often been criticized and the ability of programs to change them has been attacked. A new article suggests otherwise.

The article "Do People's Self-Views Matter? Self -Concept and Self-Esteem in Everyday Life" suggests self-esteem and self-concept do affect behavior and that, yes, self-esteem and self-concept can be changed.

So, in short, self-views do matter. Because people's negative self-views can have detrimental effects on their quality-of-life, the article concludes that professionals should continue programs to positively affect the self-esteem and self-concept of clients.

Thus, the article provides evidence for RTs that they should have concern for the self-esteem and self-concepts of their clients and that RTs should continue to provide programs to positively alter the self-esteem and self-concepts of clients.

"Do People's Self-Views Matter?" appeared in the February-March, 2007, issue of the American Psychologist, Volumn 62, Number 2, pp. 84 - 94. The authors are: William B. Swann, Chirstine Chang-Schneider, & Katie Larsen McClarty of the University of Texas, Austin.

Florida Therapeutic Recreation Network

I received a request to post this information on the RT Blog site. I must admit that I really am not at all familar with this service but I am passing on the info FYI. Here it is....

The Florida Therapeutic Recreation Network's mission is to promote and support Therapeutic Recreation Services within the state of Florida. This is achieved through the submission position announcements, issues or questions, and the promotion of CEU opportunities to be broadcast on the network. Once information is submitted it is scanned for content by the network administrator, spam is weeded out, then the information is forwarded to all those whom have subscribed. Our eventual goal is to begin sponsoring educational sessions sometime this year. However, right now we are focusing on opening up the lines of communication between CTRSs in the state.

To be added to the list email fltrnet@yahoo.com with subscribe in the subject line.

Help spread the word about the FL TR Network, forward this on to other professionals!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

RT Curriculum Reform

Just today (the same day as my last post on the need for RT to have an agreed upon framework) I ran across this quote:

"I believe therapeutic recreation curricula in general are weak and we are producing inadequately prepared students. There are countless reasons for this; many appear to be beyond the control of the individual therapeutic recreation educator. The weakness is not in specific programs, but in lack of uniformity among programs. A major factor is lack of a commonly accepted philosophical statement to guide curriculum development and implementation." (Bold print added)

This quote might have been from a number of individuals now engaged in thinking about curriculum reform -- including me. But it is not! It is from 1980 (Isn't that over 26 years ago!) And do you know who is quoted, not me but Carol Peterson (in the Proceedings of the First Annual Post-Doctoral Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington, May 21-23, 1980).

Two things stand out to me in reading Carol's statement. First, we are way, way behind in bringing about RT curriculum reform. Second, today's curriculum reformers need to acknowledge that "a lack of a commonly accepted philosophical statement to guide curriculum development" remains a major issue.

Need to Adopt Common Framework for RT

I recently read this quote: "The pragmatism, eclecticism, and theoretical pluralism that characterize the psychiatric rehabilitation field is appealing from the standpoint of encouraging experimentation and creativity in the design of programs. However, the lack of an overall framework and common vocabulary has hampered communication, both for program implementation and for advancement of scientific knowledge" (Bond & Resnick, 2000, p. 252, in Handbook of Rehabilitation Psychology edited by Robert Frank & Timothy Elliott).

In reading this quote, I thought that it could well apply to RT. RT is certainly pragmatic, eclectic, and rests on a variety of theories. More than anything, RT has not clearly defined itself so the boundaries of the profession are not clear. Thus, RT like psych rehab, similarly lacks an overall framework for practice.

It seems to me that it is time that ATRA showed some leadership by adopting the term recreational therapy in its title and then clearly defining the term. This would set boundaries for the profession and allow the development of an overall framework for practice. What do you think?