Why I Love My Job

Amanda Amend, CTRS

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Compiled by John Brieske, Pulse managing editor. Got a health care job that you love? Please send email to jbrieske@ajc.com.

Job: Recreation therapist, Glancy Rehab Center at Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth.

What I do: "I am responsible for integrating a patient's recreation and leisure interests into their therapy as a way of preparing them to re-enter their pre-hospital lifestyle.
"For example, if a patient's favorite leisure interest is gardening, I use gardening as a therapeutic tool to work on their standing or sitting balance, endurance, fine motor skills and strength, while working in our accessible garden."

How I got into this: "I found recreation therapy while I was in college and unhappy with my selected degree path. I knew I wanted to help people in a hands-on approach, and a series of searches lead me to recreation therapy."

Best part of the job: "I work in a physical rehab facility and the best part of my job is watching patients progress. There's nothing like the look on a patient's face when they have the 'light bulb' moment when they begin to understand why we do what we do."

Most challenging part: "The attitudinal barriers some patients have. For example, we often hear patients say, 'I can't do this or that anymore because I can't move like I used to.' Some patients are eager to learn new ways of doing things, but some feel that if they aren't currently able to do things the way they could prior to their hospitalization, that they aren't capable of doing it at all.
"We strive in rehab to break down those barriers and show patients that they are capable of so much more than they give themselves credit for."

What people don't know about my job: "That recreation therapists wear multiple hats. Not only do we treat patients one-on-one, we facilitate group therapy, support groups and supervise volunteers on a daily basis.
"Recreation therapists also work in a wide variety of settings, including drug and alcohol rehab, corrections, psychiatric facilities, subacute nursing facilities, assisted living, community-based adaptive recreation programs, outdoor adventure programs, adolescent behavioral settings and more."

What keeps me going: "Loving what I do and seeing patients improve."

Preparation needed: "One needs certification through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, in addition to either a degree in therapeutic recreation or several years of experience working in the field."

Pay: The median salary for recreation therapists in metro Atlanta is $45,686, according to salary.com.