Why I went for a Master’s degree in Recreation Therapy

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(C) CanStockPhoto

Part I: The undergraduate degree process:

Recreation Therapy became my career goal after doing a volunteer experience in 1999 at a rehabilitation hospital. I believe you can relate to having that same experience where you discovered recreation therapy and wanted to become a recreation therapists, too!

I graduated in August 2002 with a B.S. in Park Resources and Leisure Services with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.

Careers opportunities were often far away. I sent applications and resumes to nearly 100 agencies in both of the Virginias and Carolinas.

Surprisingly, I got offered a position at a psychiatric hospital right in my own town of Huntington the very day after I completed my summer internship. It couldn’t have been any smoother. It was just perfect.

I worked part-time the first year and was able to secure a full-time position one year later in August 2003.

Part II: The graduate degree process:

I wanted to be the best recreation therapists that I could be. I wanted to learn more. I had hopes and dreams. I thought I’d even like to be an instructor for an undergraduate course at Marshall University! I searched online for graduate degree programs in recreation therapy. I discovered that Indiana University had a distant education program. Dr. David Austin was a professor there. I immediately knew I had to train and learn from Dr. Austin.

I was very fortunate, I was in the last class he had taught before he retired. It was a course on social psychology.

I completed my Master of Science degree in Recreation Therapy from Indianan University in December 2006. Marshall University closed their Therapeutic Recreation program that same semester, so I didn’t have an opportunity to teach in TR at Marshall.  I started my online CEU program, DannyPettry.com (Rec Therapy CEUs) several months after I completed my graduate degree.

Some thoughts on getting these degrees: 

  • I felt that my undergraduate degree (from Marshall University) had adequately prepared me for an entry-level position as a recreation therapist. I am very grateful Marshall University offered this program while I was a student there.

Here are some things I learned from gaining a graduate degree in Recreation Therapy:

  • Smart people aren’t necessarily the ones who earned a graduate degree. Based on my experiences, a graduate degree demonstrates that a person had determination and persistence. I knew people with undergraduate degrees in recreation therapy who I believe are smarter than I am (despite having a graduate degree). I often seek out those Recreation Therapists for consulting.

 

  • Graduate school is fun if you like reading, writing, lectures, and learning. I understand that many people are not fascinated by those topics. But I am, so that made it easier for me.

 

  • Consulting and training was covered in graduate school. I did internal consulting for the hospital where I worked full-time. I’ve also did volunteer consulting for a few other agencies. That is a good skill to have.

 

  • Professional networks are formed in graduate school. It is a great place to meet and network with other likeminded individuals. I’ve kept in contact with those friends for many years.

 

  • Recreation therapists are applied social psychologists. Dr. Austin had made a reference in one paper (which I can’t recall or I would pay attribution and cite the source) claimed that those of us in recreation therapy are applied social psychologists. This isn’t just for those recreation therapists working in behavioral health settings. Social psychology can be applied to community therapeutic recreation settings, physical rehabilitation, and for geriatrics.

 

  • Statistics is difficult for me. However, it is very important for research. Health care in the United States is expensive. Third party payers (like insurance companies) want to make sure that patients are getting results from treatment. They want outcomes. Research and statistics can help give evidence that recreation therapy interventions are successful at bringing about specific pre-determined outcomes.

 

  • Income might not immediately increase with a graduate degree. I didn’t get an immediate increase in salary for earning a graduate degree. This was covered in one of the courses I had taken in graduate school. Short-term gain might not be much. However, it plays a huge role in the long-term. Graduate degree + additional years of experience opens the door to many supervisor positions (if a person is wanting to advance in their career). Me? I don’t want to be a supervisor. I want to be a practitioner, doing the work. I had once applied for a supervisor position at a V.A. Hospital and was offered the position. It paid more too. I believe it would have been a rewarding job to help the Veterans who have done so much for our country. However, I felt I was at the right place, being a Recreation Therapist for children and adolescents with mental health and behavioral health needs.

Some thoughts about Recreation Therapy and Entry-Level Requirements:

Currently, a Master’s degree is not required for entry-level practice as a recreation therapist. It is noted that many of our allied professionals require a master’s degree to practice.

I personally think having an undergraduate degree as an entry-level requirement could make marketing our undergraduate programs easier. In example: Get a career helping people (as a Rec Therapist) with a four-year degree opposed to getting a career helping people (in another field) with six-year-degree.

Of course, the undergraduate degree program must adequately prepare the student for entry-level positions. I’d argue those programs should be accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Recreational Therapy Education (CARTE). 

Graduate degrees in Recreation Therapy are geared more towards preparing people to:

a.) become specialized in an a focus area (in example: behavioral health, physical rehab),

b.) become managers and supervisors; and

c.) preparing people to become consultants and trainers.

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Indiana University

Indiana University had a vendor booth at the 2016 ATRA conference!

I love Indiana University! I completed my graduate degree in Recreational Therapy from Indiana University in 2006 with Dr. David Austin, Dr. Bryan McCormick, and Dr. Younghill Lee.

Dr. David Austin isn’t at the conference. He is retired, but still very active in the profession. I was very happy to have taken the last course Dr. Austin taught to students before he retired. It was a course based on social psychology. One of my favorite courses and topics!

I had run into Dr. Bryan McCormick in passing.

Jared Allsop was there! He organizes the student conference. I plan to attend and present at that in 2017.

Shinichi was at the ATRA booth. He is doctorate student at IU. (See picture).

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Shinichi (pictured above)

There was a real bad windstorm at the 2016 student conference. Shinichi assisted me with getting my laptop to re-boot during the power flickering out and then the power was out for good.

Here is a link to IU:

http://www.publichealth.indiana.edu/degrees/graduate.shtml

[Video] – Recreational Therapy: An Introduction (4th edition)

Dr. David Austin has a new video, which he discusses his new book, “Recreational Therapy: An Introduction (4th edition).”

The video is posted at the bottom of this blog entry.

I [Danny Pettry] had first discovered recreational therapy in 1999 while doing volunteer work at a rehabilitation hospital. I had signed up to take the introduction to recreational therapy course at Marshall University (Huntington, West Virginia).

I made a trip that fall with my parents from little Beckley, West Virginia to Huntington for the day. We went shopping and ate lunch and stopped by the university so I could go ahead and pick up my books.

I recall getting an earlier edition of this book on that trip.

I was so passionate and excited about recreational therapy that I started to read the book in our car ride back to Beckley (about a 2-hour drive).

This new edition seems great. I can’t wait to read it!

Click here for a link with a sneak preview of the book (includes contents)

–> Click here to get a copy of the book. <–

[Video] – NEW Book: Management Functions in Recreational Therapy

I always enjoy seeing videos of Dr. David Austin (my professor from graduate school) at Indiana University.

Below is a brief video of Dr. David Austin talking about his new book, “Management Functions in Recreational Therapy.” He has co-written it with two really wonderful people.

I [Danny Pettry] am attending a training on management of recreational therapy departments at the 2016 ATRA conf. in Chicago on Sun. 9/10/16. I imagine they’ll discuss this book!

I had taken a general management course at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia one summer that counted towards my degree in therapeutic recreation at Marshall University. I really enjoyed that course. It focused on several key concepts that Dr. Austin discusses in his video. however, that course didn’t focus on the specific management of recreational therapy or about healthcare.

I like that it is in paperback! I’m getting a copy soon!

Here is Dr. Austin’s video:

–> Click here to get a copy of this book <–

 

Dr. Geoffrey Godbey video

My professor in graduate school at Indiana University, the famous David Austin (Professor Emeritus) recently posted a youtube video with Geoffrey Godbey at his facebook page.

Dr. Austin argued that all students in recreation related fields should watch the video and he said (especially grad students).

I [Danny Pettry] had read several books by Geoffrey Godbey while completing my graduate degree in recreational therapy from Indiana University.

I started to watch the video and I could relate a lot of my own experiences to those of Dr. Geoffrey Godbey. I found the video real easy to listen to.

Here is the youtube video that Dr. Austin was making a reference to:


Here are his books on amazon:

–> Geoffrey Godbey books < —

Some Things I Appreciate about the Internet

Submitted by: David R. Austin, Ph.D., FDRT, FALS, Professor Emeritus, Indiana University

In no particular order, here are some things that I appreciate about the Internet. Having the ability to:

  • Make RT courses and degree programs available online. The availability of online offerings for practitioners is a particularly meaningful advancement.
  • Give practitioners the opportunity to keep up-to-date by taking webinars, such as those offered by ATRA.
  • Offer practitioners opportunities to gain CEUs offered by providers such as Danny Pettry.com
  • Gain daily online reports from the federal government on health care research.
  • Exchange information with RT colleagues via the listserv RecreationalTherapynet
  • Gain access to the latest published research in a wide array of scholarly journals including the American Journal of Recreation Therapy and Therapeutic Recreation Journal. (I especially like having access to Google Scholar as a means to locate and access articles.)
  • Receive information (e.g., ATRA Newsletter) from our national and state professional associations.
  • Check publishers (e.g., Sagamore Publishing, Idyll Arbor) websites for books available on recreational therapy.
  • Publish and read recreational therapy blogs, such as the RT Blog at http://rt-blog.blogspot.com/
  • Post and read RT information on social media, such as Facebook.
  • Exchange information and ideas with colleagues using email.

 

  • Give students, faculty, and RTs access to RT related videos, such as the Recreation Therapy Videos offered as a free service by the Indiana University Library’s Scholarworks.
  • Offer free access to the Glossary of Recreation Therapy and Occupational Therapy through Indiana University’s Scholarworks.