Job Title: Recreation Therapist
Education: BA in Parks and Recreation with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation, University of California, Chico
Previous Experience: I was in vet assistant school and volunteered at a place where we took children around a working farm and on hikes. The changes I saw in people when they were around animals or outside made me decide to look for a field where I could get people into things that they enjoyed.
Job Tasks: I work at a non-profit hospital that care exclusively for Spinal cord and Brain injured individuals.
As a recreation therapist we have a very flexible schedule. Our main goal is to determine patients interest and how that can be adapted (if needed) to return them to those activities that were important to them before. Family and friends play an important role in their therapy and are welcome to attend in house activities and outings with their loved one.
We are responsible for both in house activities (crafts,game, gardening,music,etc) and for outings (sporting event,movies,dine outs,etc) and higher risk activites where we utilize the community (hot air ballooning, rafting, sailing , biking, SCUBA, etc). We meet individually with patients to work on specific goals and in groups on outings or in house activities.
Prior to discharge from the hospital we provide them resources to utilize upon returing to their home community. We are responsible for completing an initial assessment, conference notes and discharge notes on all patients. We also attend weekly meetings with the doctor and the rest of the treatment team to discuss patients. We participate in family conferences, case planning meetings and behavior meetings. As a recreation therapist, I am a key member of the treatment team and work very closely with all clinical and non-clinical staff.
Part of my job also includes running our pet therapy program, over seeing volunteers and student interns.
Besides providing therapy for in patients we also work with a large number of out patients who live in the area or come from other parts of the country.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of job is that in some patients you are able to see changes daily. Family and friends play such a big role here and this helps patients progress. It doesn't feel like a hospital. The worst part is the documentation that we are reguired to do as it can take away from time that could be spent with patients.
Job Tips: As time consuming as it may seem, make sure you do a lot of volunteer work in a number of different areas to find out where your strengths lie (spinal cord, brain injury, seniors, children, developementally disabled, psychology, etc).
If you enjoy working with people and helping them this is a perfect field for you.
As a Recreation therapist we work on similar goals to Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy and Occupational therapy, but through activities that are of interest to them so sometimes they are not aware that they are working on these goals.
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