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.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Post on Why University RT Programs are Closing

I posted the following message on 07-09-2007 at 9:50 PM on Charlie Dixon's RT/TR Directory bulletin board at about University TR programs closing through out the country. Here is what I posted:

Many valid ideas have been presented as to why universities have dropped their professional preparation programs in RT. These include: the possibility of a poor job market (but I have not seen data to support this);low pay for RT professionals;and a lack of a clear understanding of just what RT is and why it should be valued.

I believe the short answer as to why schools have done away with RT curricula is that RT is not valued to the extent that it should be. How do we correct this? How do we get others to value and respect RT? First, RT must clearly define itself (Is it a health/wellness profession or a recreation profession?) The profession has done a poor job of defining itself. Second, RT must present a clear message of what it is about using many means -- but keeping in mind that we live in an age of technology. Technology must be used to tell our story. Improving the ATRA website would be a good start. Third, "Quality Endures" should be the credo for university RT programs. RT faculty must be respected as scholars by their faculty colleagues from other academic disciplines if the profession is to be valued within the academic community. RT faculty also must act now to improve RT curricula. RT curriculum standards are too low today. RT professionals need to actively demand that university RT professional preparation programs provide the kind of preparation needed to be a valued member of the health care team. In sum, RT will do well in higher education if RT is seen as a valued profession with scholarly university faculty who present strong curricula to prepare future professionals.

Do you share my view? If so, please comment on this post on the RT Blog. If you don't agree, what is your view? Again, please comment on this post on the RT Blog. Or you may wish to go to the RT/TR Directory bulletin board to post your thoughts.


Blogger Mike and Michelle said...

I could not agree more with you. I have believed for some time that the quality of student preparation is sub par. I have had many interns and can say that most are not up to the standards I believe they will need to survive in a clinical model of healthcare. It is very sad to see other interns (from PT, OT, ST) who appear to be such true professionals even during the internship that it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart from the actual employees. In contrast, it seems that the RT students tend to seclude themselves from the professional environment. They continue to see themselves as being different from the others. I believe part of the root of this is the possibility that many come from a university of college which treats RT like a general rec major. It seems that it is time to divide the profession into the clinical and recreational specialties. Neither is better than the other, but they are very different. It is difficult to become proficient in either when you learn "watered-down" versions of both. We probably do a better job of preparing the general recreation half. It is critical to step up the curriculum for clinical RT to include more therapeutic and counseling classes.

I also agree the ATRA website is a disaster! I have website experience (but am no expert!) and this site is so hard to navigate that I have become lost or unable to find certain information even though I visit the site regularly! The site is lifeless and is cluttered with outdated information as much as it lacks current information! ATRA deserves better!

8:35 PM  

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