Bulletproofing Recreational Therapy

A book Review of Stephen Viscusi’s (2008) book, Bulletproof your job

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  • Viscusi, S. (2008). Bulletproof your job: 4 simple strategies to ride out the rough times and come out on top at work. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Book Review By: Danny Pettry

            Politicians often say, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu” to argue the importance of being involved. Those people who are not at the table and not involved risk having their services being “cut” and discontinued by those people that are involved.

Recreational therapists need to be involved and have a seat at the table to bulletproof their job. However, the focus of the profession is not about saving our own jobs. It is about the people that receive recreational therapy services. Our job in being involved consists of making sure people (consumers of recreational therapy) are getting the greatest outcomes. The focus is on ensuring and advocating that consumers are getting access to these cost-efficient recreational therapy services that are bringing about functional outcomes.

Health care services cost a lot of money. Those services that are not bringing about measurable outcomes are deemed not necessary. Those services risk being cut and discontinued. Recreational therapy has evidenced-based research that supports what we do. It is vital that recreational therapists are involved, having a seat at the table, and active in advocating for the consumers of recreational therapy services.

Stephen Viscusi (2008) points out four strategies people can use to keep their job. This book review outlines Viscusi’s four simple strategies and provides additional focus for those people who are professional Recreational Therapists to be involved (at a national public policylevel)

Viscusi’s (2008) four simple strategies to bulletproofing a job consist of being:

  1. Visible;
  2. Easy;
  3. Useful; and
  4. Ready

Recreational therapists could apply Viscusi’s (2008) four simple strategies in order to advocate for our professional services and the outcomes that they help achieve.

 

Being Visible

            Viscusi (2008) points out the importance of being seen. Viscsi argues that this means seen doing the right things. Appearance must be professional. Employee must show up on time for work (or early) and do extra. The employee must be consistently hardworking, providing real value to the company. The employee is seen as going the extra mile to volunteer to lead special projects.

Recreational therapists do a lot of these already. They are passionate, genuine, enthusiastic, positive, polite, considerate, good listeners.

Some tips for Recreational Therapists to be visible:

Get involved in public policy with the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA). Be a leader and volunteer to take initiative to organize efforts (at a state level for your own state and on a national level). Be present (by having a seat at the table) by participating in public policy. Send ATRA an email and ask how you can help with public policy in your state and at a national level.

 

Being Easy

            Viscusi (2008) points out the importance of being easy. This concept is based on being easy to get along with opposed to being the difficult employee. Difficult employees whine, complain, and make things miserable for others. Employers are more likely to get rid of difficult employees.

Recreational therapists as a whole often demonstrate the characteristics of being easy-going.  These concepts consist of being calm and collect, having a positive attitude, being flexible, and agreeable.

            Some tips for Recreational Therapists on being easy:

Get involved in your professional organization: The American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA). Apply your easy-going skills towards making new connections and networking with other professionals. Demonstrate a positive attitude and volunteer to help the professional association with tasks.

 

Being Useful

            Viscusi (2008) argues that being useful is a key to keeping a job. This consists of doing more than what you’re expected to do. Sometimes they call it “going the extra mile.” It is doing “extra credit” work when you already have a solid A+ grade. Being useful is about helping the company reach goals. It is the opposite of blaming and making excuses when job responsibilities are not completed. It is quite easy for a company to le employees like this go.

 

Some tips for Recreational Therapists on being useful:

Become a specialist. Go above and beyond your entry-level Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential. The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) offers five specialty certifications, including: behavioral health, physical medicine and rehab, developmental disabilities, geriatrics, and community. Specialists provide additional value to the company. A person with the specialization could be sought out for advice in their area of expertise. They could assist with training others in the company.

 

Being Ready

            Viscusi (2008) argues the importance of being prepared and ready. Changes happen all the time. Anything can happen. People that are prepared are the ones who are going to come out on top. Those people that are not prepared are going to be the ones that are left behind or let go.

Some tips for Recreational Therapists to be ready:

Our world is changing. Health care is changing as well. Recreational therapists need to be knowledgably of what is happening in the world, in health care, and in their own profession. Consider going the extra mile to earn a graduate degree or a doctorate. One change our profession is facing is the shortage of qualified people to teach undergraduates and graduate students.

 

Conclusion

            There are things a single individual person can do to bulletproof her (or his) own job. Viscusi (2008) did an excellent job arguing how being visible, easy-going, useful, and prepared can be beneficial.

Recreational therapists as a whole could apply Viscusi’s (2008) concepts to bulletproof the profession. There is an old story about four bulls and one hungry tiger. The tiger could easily take out any one single bull. However, the four bulls put their back tails together. They form a circle and watch out for each other. The tiger is not able to get any one single bull when they have their horns out and form a circle. The tiger gets them when they are alone.

Recreational therapists are more vulnerable when they are alone. However, they do not need to be alone. We have a professional association that forms a circle. However,  recreational therapists must join the circle (the association) in order to be involved.

Recreational therapists can be:

  • Visible when they are part of a group association
  • Easy-going by working with others in the profession and building a network of professional friends.
  • Useful by volunteering to work on the many roles and responsibilities of the national association.
  • Ready for what changes happen next. The association will spread the knowledge through their email network to those involved.

 

Bibliography

  • Viscusi, S. (2008). Bulletproof your job: 4 simple strategies to ride out the rough times and come out on top at work. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

 

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Danny Pettry is a full-time practitioner. He has provided services for children with abuse-reactive needs at a psychiatric residential treatment facility since 2002. Pettry has graduate degrees in Mental Health Counseling (Linsey Wilson College, Columbia, Kentucky, 2012) and Recreational Therapy (Indianan University, Bloomington, Indiana, 2006). Pettry is a lifetime member of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA). Pettry is not a hired representative, elected member, or spokesperson for the association. This blog is written by Danny Pettry (an individual).

NCTRC – recertification and specialty certifications

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Pictured above: Susan Kaufer and Robin McNeal

I [Danny Pettry] had the great privilege of attending the Recertification and Specialty Certification Overview at the 2016 ATRA conference in Chicago with Robin McNeal, CTRS and Susan Kaufer, CTRS.

Robin and Susan work for NCTRC! I’ve had the privilege to attend several training sessions they’ve provided at ATRA conferences and other state/ local conferences of the years with both of them.

I informed both of them that I appreciate all the work they do for our certification. I also informed them that I do not envy their task/ job of reviewing all of those documents (applications) and reviewing/ audit of CEUs. Important job. Somebody has to do it. I let them know I’d rather be a practitioner in the field.

They shared the mission of NCTRC: To protect the consumer of therapeutic recreation services by promoting the provision of quality therapeutic recreation services by NCTRC certificants.

NCTRC is overseen by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

The Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) is considered the benchmark for professional services. The CTRS is known as the qualified provider of recreational therapy.

NCTRC does a lot to advocate for the credential. We, CTRS can also advocate and promote our credential. People can contact NCTRC to request brochures.

 

A while back, NCTRC completed a job analysis survey among certificants. It was used to identify two areas: job task/ experience and knowledge areas for the CTRS to be competent.

One option for renewing certification consists of: working at least 480 hours in the field within 5-years and having at least 50 hours of continuing education that are relevant to the therapeutic recreation knowledge areas.

 

Do it early! There is good news: people can submit their recertifcate application up to one-year early to get the process completed. Of course, the CTRS renewal cycle will still be at the same time. I think this is wonderful. That way – if a Continuing Education course doesn’t count towards recertification, you can earn more credits that do because you’ve submitted early/ before the deadline.

 

Responsibility: Your continuing education units(CEUs) is your responsibility. You must keep track of these and don’t lose them. I [Danny Pettry] keep mine in a fire proof safe along with CEUs for other professional certificates and state professional licenses.

 

NOTE: activity/ skills based sessions do not count for CEUs. In example – if you take a yoga class it won’t count. Of course, a person can take these courses to learn new skills, but should be aware that they won’t count for CEUs.

 

Ways to earn CEUs that were discussed during this session:

  • Publication – write a book or journal article and you’ll earn CEUs
  • Guest lecture for your local college or university and you’ll earn CEUS
  • Supervise an internship (up to 2 interns allowed) and they can’t be during the same time. You can get 5 hours per intern.
  • Academic course credit. One 3-hour-semester course counts for 45 out of 50 CEUs! That is a great way. Those working on their master’s degree will have an abundance of CEUs.

Another way:

  • They didn’t directly talk about online/ home study courses (http://www.DannyPettry.com) during this part of this session. Staff at NCTRC have in talked about my program (which I’ve attended, in example: ATRA 2013 Pitts, PA). However, I do think it is best that they don’t name any praticular programs. In example: if they talk about Indiana Univrsity for a master’s dgree in the field or taking a graduate course for CEU credit then other colleges and universities may want them to do the same and that really isn’t the role of NCTRC to advocate or promote any program like that.
  • My self-study online courses are currently pre-approved by NCTRC for CEUs. Go here: http://www.DannyPettry.com

Getting the 480 hours of experience in five years

  • Those working full time should easily have this.
  • Those who are not working full-time as a Rec Therapist can still earn 480 hours for various roles and responsibilities, including:
    1. Supervisor role (manager of RT)
    2. Administrator (at hospital) who is no longer working in RT
    3. Educator (who is teaching RT)
    4. Consultant (who is providing services in RT)
    5. Volunteer (which I just think is wonderful
    6. Professional services (serving as a member of the ATRA board or your state/ local chapter affiliate of ATRA)

Robin McNeal, CTRS and Susan Kaufer, CTRS (the two presenters of this training) are not working in direct service as a recreational therapist. However, they can still earn their 480 hours work from various ways.

I wanted to mention during this session that U.S. Congressman G. T. Thompson isn’t working as recreational therapist practitioner, but he still maintains his 480-hours of work in the field, which I’m very grateful for. He has done a lot with legislation related to our field.

The speakers did not directly say this, but I got a gut impression that they will move to requiring a CTRS to earn so many CEUs in each knowledge area. But I’m not 100% of that yet.

SPECIALTY CERTIFICATION

This is fairly new!

They speakers had suggested in the future that a license in the profession will be the benchmark in the field and then those professional practitioners can advance by earning specialty certifications.  They said that currently 54 people have a specialty certification!

Based on my knowledge, nurses can specialize in various areas (like behavioral health). Counselors can specialist (like substance abuse, career counseling, family marriage counseling, etc).

There are currently five specialty certifications offered by NCTRC.  These included:

  1. Behavioral health: they said over 50% of those with specialty certification have this one.
  2. Geriatrics: 2nd place
  3. Physical medicine/ rehabilitation: 3rd place
  4. Community/ inclusion: only two people have this.
  5. Developmental Disabilities: 0 people have this specialty certification.

There are two paths towards earning this.

  • One path consists of a master’s degree with (9) credit hours in the specialty area.
  • One path consists of earning (75) CEUs that are all focused in the specialty area and having at least 3 professional certificates that are greater than 6-hours.

I really hope to see more people get these.

NOTE: I, [Danny Pettry] am working on creating three professional certificate courses in behavioral health designed specifically for those people who are seeking the behavioral health specialty certification by NCTRC.  I’m working to get those same three professional certificate trainings approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). They will probably be released at my site (DannyPettry.com) in 2017.

 

Disclaimer: Contact NCTRC with your questions and comments. Danny Pettry (author of this blog) has been a CTRS since 2003, however, he does not work for NCTRC and he is not elected to the board of directors. Go here: http://www.NCTRC.org