Recreation Therapy - Practicum Student Program - VA Palo Alto Health Care System
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VA Palo Alto Health Care System


Recreation Therapy - Practicum Student Program

Recreation Therapy Service trains and utilizes Practicum Students to further the student's learning and assist with delivery of services throughout the healthcare system. The policy defines the orientation process, supervision of students, their role and guidelines within the Service.

The Practicum Student Program is an opportunity for students to observe Recreation/Art or Music Therapists in their clinical practice treating Veterans and gain supervised experience observing and conducting treatment interventions.

  • Practicum students shadow therapists through their normal routines; this may include conducting assessments, treatment planning, therapeutic intervention, clinical documentation, program design, implementation and evaluation.
  • Through the practicum program students are exposed to a variety of settings, specialty programs and populations and medical record documentation requirements. They are introduced to the recovery oriented and evidence-based practices and modalities used by recreation and creative arts therapists for specific populations/programs within VAPAHCS.
  • Practicum students are expected to be directly observing the therapist, not providing support services such as filing, cleaning or organizing.
  • Deadlines for contacting Sherri Heim or Angie Kwan for orientation:
    - March 15 for summer hours
    - July 15 for fall hours
    - October 15 for spring hours

Practicum Student Levels of Education and Experience

Students enter academic programs with a variety of experience and academic preparation. In order to meet the needs of the students and to efficiently use Recreation Therapy Service resources, the following levels have been established:

A. Level One Students have limited academic and work experience in Recreation Therapy. They are allowed to participate in special events and may be allowed to shadow individual therapists for up to 4 hours a week. They may shadow a different therapist each week, in different sections, to gain a broader understanding of the varied roles and responsibilities of therapists. The placement of individual students to shadowing is done by the Practicum Coordinator, in conjunction with the therapist and section supervisors. Note that at most this would allow a student to compile up to 60 hours in a semester.

Level One Students: Have taken or are currently enrolled in at least one Therapeutic Recreation class. Have at least 15 hours of experience, or the equivalent, working or volunteering in recreation, e.g., city parks and recreation, skilled nursing homes, summer camps for people with disabilities, boy or girl scouts, and other venues as judged by the Practicum Coordinator.

B. Level Two Students have moderate amounts of experience and academic preparation. They may be assigned to weekly shadowing spots, or to an individual therapist for up to six weeks, for 4-6 hours per week. Depending on the abilities and experience of the student, they may be placed with another therapist for the second half of the semester.

Level Two Students: Have taken at least two Therapeutic Recreation classes. Have at least 30 hours of experience, or the equivalent, working or volunteering in recreation e.g. city parks and recreation, skilled nursing homes, summer camps for people with disabilities, boy or girl scouts and other venues as judged by the Practicum Coordinator. Have been recommended by their university as "experienced students."

Practicum Students are responsible for:

  • Meeting with the Practicum Coordinator and completing the RTS application (see Attachment A: Practicum Student Application) and orientation.
  • Completing VA Voluntary Service (VAVS) application and orientation.
  • Communicate their practicum requirements of their university to the RTS Practicum Coordinator.
  • Communicate effectively and in a timely manner. Communicate any concerns to the therapist, practicum coordinator, or RTS supervisor.
  • Follow guidance and direction given by their RTS Supervisor.
  • Be punctual and arrive at the correct location for shadowing.
  • Adhere to the dress code for each individual program.
  • Know and adhere to confidentiality laws and procedures.
  • Officially tracking their hours through Voluntary Service.

The individual university retains supervision of the students' academic process.

Download Practicum Student Application Form