Where do you get your insights and updates about our profession?
My answer: Our professional association!
Dr. Bryan McCormick (professor) at Indianan presented on the importance of professional associations at the Great Lake Recreational Therapy Student Conference (GL RT SC)on Sat. April 2, 2016.
Dr. McCormick is well known in the field. He has served on the board of directors for ATRA. He is also the author of nearly 50 peer-reviewed publications and 11 book chapters.
Dr. McCormick was my professor when I had attended Indianan University.
I’ve been a member of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) since either 2000 or 2001. I may have joined in 1999. Regardless, I wanted to share some of the information about it.
Here are a few of my personal notes taken during Dr. McCormick’s session:
We NEED strong local and national associations.
Our collective efforts are stronger over any one of our individual efforts alone.
ATRA has two main purposes:
1.) AdvocateAll members of ATRA are part of the association.
2.) Enhance outcomes for the public/ clients we serve
Danny’s comment: as a member, I think it is a really cool club.
The majority of the work done for the association is done by volunteers/ members of the association.
Peter Thomas is the association’s legislative counselor. Danny P. comments: Mr. Thomas is a great guy. I’ve met him a few times before. His story: car accident as a child. He lost both legs. Received recreational therapy at the hospital (I think in Denver). He is an advocate for Rec therapy today.
When did ATRA start?
Way back in 1984, 50 individuals founded the association with their own money. Dr. McCormick didn’t say how much they donated during this session, but I [Danny P.] believe recalling that each one of those individuals donated $1,000 of their own money to start the association. Nobody asked them to do this. They took the initiative and did it.
Here are four areas that ATRA covers:
The number one reason to license a profession is to protect the public.
Danny P. comments: A person without a license (the layperson) who is not trained and experienced is most likely a good person. He or she wants to help as well. This person has very good intentions. However, because of their lack of training they could cause serious harm to a person with serious illness or disability.
b.) Evolving healthcare
U.S. is # 1 in cost. It is expensive. Norway is second in expense.
However, despite these costs, the U.S. is ranked 11th in being effective.
The least costly setting is in the community. It consists of keeping people healthy in the first place. It is preventative healthy. Prevention is a lot cheaper than treatment.
Three levels: it is a lot like a triangle.
Top very small part of the triangle is: prevention
Secondary – middle part of triangle: reduce the consequences of the problem.
Primary: treating illness.
Evidenced-based practice is that there is scientific research that gives proof that an intervention/ treatment/ activity really brings about outcomes. Dr. McCormick said it takes 16 years to go from discovery (that it works) to being implemented in practice.
c.) Affordable Care Act (ACA) - Obama Care
The future is uncertain. Many politicians claim they will repeal it. However, there are many aspects of it that has been implemented that would be hard to change.
The individual mandate may be repealed.
d.) Public Policy and Advocacy
ATRA has very low numbers. Only 11% of Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS) are members of ATRA. That is not even 1/3.
- The physical therapy association has an annual budget of 26 million
- The occupational therapy association has a budget of 9.5 million a year.
- ATRA doesn’t even have a million. It has a .25 million annual budget.
Barriers: people claim it is the cost.
The physical therapy association has higher membership dues. Of course, many people claim, sure they make more. However, the cost based on salary is still more expensive for PT to be a member compared to the cost of a RT being a member of ATRA.
What does it cost?
Dr. McCormick shared the example of someone brining two happy meals in and saying the cost of ATRA is two-happy meals a month. It is affordable.
Dr. McCormick shared that membership is different from being a customer.
A customer wants to get the most out of it for the cheapest price.
Membership is different. Like the JFK quote: ask now what you country can do for you but what you can do for your country. Membership is really about taking the personal responsibility to stand up for your profession and the people who receive recreational therapy services (in the U.S.) by making a membership donation to a very good cause: ATRA.
There are two ways you can help advocate for our profession.
# 1. Money: donate your money to ATRA. I’d like to argue that membership is given to anyone who makes the membership donation. No other person is going to advocate for RT like you can. Your boss/ supervisor, co-workers, or anyone else is not going to do it. It is up to you to promote ATRA.
# 2. Time donate your own time to serve ATRA. I don’t want to sound ageist. I hope I am being politically correct in saying this. ATRA as a whole has a lot of aging members. There are people who are ready to retire and move on in life. The association needs more active/ younger blood. I’d argue that if you (the person reading this blog) wanted any position in ATRA that you could get it. Run for any position and get elected. So what if you don’t get elected the first year. There are many more years. You’ll get your turn too.
Transparency: You might be asking, "Danny, why are you not a board member?" As you already know, I run and operate, DannyPettry, LLC, which could be a conflict of interest if I was on the board. However, I do volunteer my time to present at conferences, to assist with projects and other activities. I also make my annual membership donation to ATRA.
Note: I danny pettry, am not an official spokesperson for ATRA. I am simply one member who encourages more to join our cause. http://www.atra-online.com/