Peg Connolly, Ph.D.
First Executive Director of NCTRC
Western Carolina University – College of Health and Human Sciences
Hard to believe NCTRC is now 40 years old. I remember being on the NTRS (National Therapeutic Recreation Society) Board of Directors in 1981 when we voted to set up NCTRC as an independent credentialing organization. Then it was a bit unexpected for me to be selected as their first full-time Executive Director in 1986 when we celebrated the 5th year of NCTRC.
There were so many challenges in those early years to manage the organization so that it grew and remained solvent while the Board of Directors worked hard on strategic development of the credential so that the CTRS would be respected around the country.
When I began my work with NCTRC in 1986 there were just over 3,000 certificants. One of the most significant moves was to change the CTRS standards so that RT internships would be supervised by a CTRS. Up until then, any internship that met the weeks and hours regardless of the background of the supervisor was accepted. When that internship supervisor requirement was implemented, the numbers of CTRSs doubled. Every move by the Board in those early years was to refine and develop the credential, so the next giant accomplishment was putting in the first standardized exam in 1990. By then, there were just about 9,000 individuals credentialed and, even though we required every CTRS to take and pass the exam no matter how many years they had been certified, our professionals stepped up to the place to prove their qualifications and pass that national exam. It was a very difficult time for NCTRC as no one was very happy about taking the exam after they had already been a CTRS, but everyone pulled through and we lost very few individuals.
That was a turning point for NCTRC and the beginning of our road to national accreditation which was obtained for the first time in 1993.
I am extremely proud of my involvement with the organization and the wonderful professionals I was privileged to serve and to work with along the way.