Chronology of the Origin of National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, Inc.: 1981-2021

Happy 40th Birthday!

Marcia Jean Carter, ReD, CPRP, CTRS, FALS, FDRT
Chair NCTRC 1981-1985

From the mid-1970s to mid-1980s, I was part of a team, the former National Therapeutic Recreation Society (NTRS) Registration Board, that undertook the studies, revised the standards, created the documents, and negotiated with legal assistance the establishment of the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, Inc. This chronology briefly summarizes key steps in the formation of the Council. A narrative that provides references to document this summary is available.

1956 CAHR plan–1957 68 registrants in 3-level plan for Hospital Recreators

1968 NTRS Voluntary Registration Board plan oversight under NRPA governance, 1969, 6-level plan

1979 meeting convened as a result of the NTRS President’s Commission for the Assessment of Critical Issues, panel reported their findings on development of a national exam, transitions from registration to certification standards, continuing professional development, and philosophical issues surrounding credentialing. Result was the recommendation to study independence of credential using NCHCA (National Commission for Health Certifying Agencies) guidelines.

1980, January-February, NTRS Board adopted concept of independence, two-level plan, CEU requirements for certification. NTRS Registration Board and officers held meetings with NCHCA now NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies), and the Manpower Utilization Branch (an entity within the former U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare) and testing firms to review standards.

October 20, 1980 creation of an independent body outside of the governance of both NRPA and NTRS—”Proposal for the Creation of an Administratively Independent Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC)” and the “By-Laws” for the Council accepted by NTRS.

February 13, 1981 NTRS accepted revised documents and forwarded them to the NRPA Trustee Constitution and By-Laws Committee which advanced the By-Laws for NCTRC to the NRPA Board of Trustees for approval, May 22, 1981 resulting in recognition of NCTRC as an administratively independent body.

October 29, 1981, Minneapolis, MN, first official Council meeting. Tasks during and following the meeting besides election of officers were the establishment of standing committees (Finance, Nomination, Appeals, Test Development and Research, and Procedures Manual), development of a strategic plan, design of a Council newsletter, and continued revisions and updating of the MOA to articulate Council autonomy. The packet received by the initial Board members included the Council By-Laws, the Certification Review Board and Continuing Professional Development Review Board By-Laws, the two-level certification plan-effective October 15, 1981 and a CEU operational document.

1981-1984 During this period with legal support, the Council investigated a preferred name for the Council and its primary credential through trademark clearance searches in Austin, Tx and Washington DC—RT was in evidence with Rehabilitation, Restorative, and Respiratory Therapists, TR appeared to be unique.

Fall, 1983 first election of Council Board members by certificants. With legal advice, when the NRPA and NTRS board member terms expired their positions were no longer filled. Thus, fall of 1984 the Council board consisted of three professional level and two paraprofessional level members, and a consumer and an employer representative. The professional organizations were invited to create liaisons with the Council.

1983-1984 focus was on developing an operating budget, preparing a national registry (printed July, 1983), communicating and meeting with peer credentialing bodies, securing fiscal autonomy from NRPA, and exploring test development and administration (Test Development and Research Committee was renamed the Test Management Committee) that included establishing liaisons and meetings with testing companies.

July 1, 1984 fiscal autonomy effected.  This involved numerous revisions and addendums to the MOA signed in October, 1982 with NRPA. Funds were redirected from the NRPA general fund to the “NTRS Registration Fund” with management by the Council commencing FY 1984.

July 1, 1984 a mailing was sent to all certified members requesting their proxy vote on the articles of incorporation of NCTRC, Inc.

October 1984 meeting of the Council approved the constitution and by-laws and an open forum was held with certificants to explain the need for their vote and the anticipated criteria for future certificants (standards revisions that would include passage of an exam and CEUs to maintain the credential).

April, 1985 after two additional mailings and phone calls, the necessary number of certificant votes were realized enabling creation of a tax exempt non-profit incorporated organization. This allowed us to trademark the organization title and credential, hire professional staff, develop and manage an exam, and constitute a continuing professional development program communicating with certified professionals independent of professional membership organizations.

May, 1985 the legal incorporation papers were filed in Austin and I presented the official documents to the NCTRC Board of Directors in Dallas, October, 1985.

As I noted in remarks on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of NCTRC, the team that created the documents, guided the research, and made the decisions in the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s knew the operation and management of NCTRC required resources and expertise and that our work had just begun. We hoped we had not put “the cart before the horse” as we felt we were advancing the professionalization of therapeutic recreation that would make a difference among our constituents. The chronology summarizes activities that positively supported the maturation of the Council and growth and viability of the CTRS™. The round pin that we wear, designed by students in TWU (Texas Woman’s University) classes in the early 1980s represents the healthy whole person. CTRSs™ create safe quality services that protect participants while making vital differences in their lives. Congratulations to all CTRSs™ who wear this symbol representing quality health care providers. Thanks to all professionals and staff who over the past 40 years have given to the well-being of NCTRC, Inc.