Alumni in the College of Education and Human Sciences pursue exciting careers and make a difference in their communities. Taylor Varnon, a 2020 recreational therapy alumna, recently found her career passion for recreational therapy in a home health setting during an internship. Varnon is currently a recreational therapist independent contractor in the Texas panhandle with Caprock Home Health Services and Touch of CLASS.
“I have my OSU professors and clinical instructor to thank for my success within this profession,” Varnon said.
With classes ranging from psychology to warm water therapy and physiology, Varnon had many opportunities for hands-on learning. She shares advice for recreational therapy students and professionals and describes her experience at OSU.
How would you describe recreational therapy to someone who isn’t familiar with the field?
Recreational therapy utilizes a holistic approach for rehabilitation, seeking to treat five unique aspects of each person: physical, emotional, social, spiritual and cognitive. Many of those areas are temporarily and sometimes permanently altered when an injury, disease, illness or life-changing event occurs. Therefore, recreational therapists use leisure and recreational activities to develop, enhance and sustain those five areas to improve a person’s skilled independence and quality of life.
What are your day-to-day work responsibilities?
Within the home health setting I work with diagnoses such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, intellectual disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. My day-to-day responsibilities include performing assessments and evaluations; implementing interventions; and completing documentation such as initial evaluations, treatment notes, quarterly reviews and yearly summaries.
Recreational therapy majors complete two internships totaling 1,000 hours. Could you tell us a bit about your experiences?
My junior internship was within the physical rehabilitation setting at Christus Spohn Shoreline Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. I had the privilege of treating patients with traumatic brain injuries, cerebrovascular accidents, spinal cord injuries and amputations. I learned how to perform assessments and evaluations; implement interventions; monitor and evaluate patient progress; participate in treatment team meetings; and complete documentations such as admission assessments, daily treatment notes/summaries and discharge summaries.
My senior internship was also in Corpus Christi but in a home health setting. Not only did I learn the ways of recreational therapy and home health, but I also learned what to do as a future clinician during a global pandemic. Despite coronavirus, I was able to work with my clinical instructor to continue treating patients, and I actually learned many more new topics than I was expecting.
What inspired you to major in recreational therapy at OSU?
From a young age I knew I had a passion for helping others, but truthfully, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to choose as my profession. I remember a recreational therapy booth during my OSU freshman orientation catching my attention. As I learned more, I realized recreational therapy could fulfill my passion for helping others, and I changed my major. Since then, I’ve never looked back and have grown to appreciate and love this profession more and more each day.
What advice do you have for current OSU recreational therapy students?
Volunteer and attain as much hands-on experience as possible. You will not only be more prepared for your clinical rotations but more confident in your skills as a future clinician.
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