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The University of Iowa > Dept. of Integrative Physiology > Leisure Studies Program > Undergrad. Program



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What Can Students Do With a Undergraduate Major in Leisure Studies?

Therapeutic Recreation

A bachelor's degree in Leisure Studies with specialization in therapeutic recreation qualifies the student to sit for the National Therapeutic Recreation Certification examination.

Recreational therapists work in both clinical and community-based settings with a wide variety of populations. The most frequent groups that therapeutic recreation professionals work with are: persons with mental illness, spinal cord and brain injuries, frail older adults, substance abuse and youth at risk, and persons with developmental disabilities. mynights image

Clinical settings tend to focus on rehabilitation, where the therapist works with a team of allied health professionals, or long-term care, where the therapist provides services that enhance quality of life of residents in nursing homes, assisted living centers, or respite care agencies.

Community-based therapeutic recreation is the fastest growing area of practice and the most varied. Community-based recreational therapists may be affiliated with community recreation departments, school systems, semi-independent living situations, special park districts, and community mental health agencies. The goals of therapeutic recreation in community-based settings tend toward enhancing quality of life, health promotion, and integration and inclusion of persons with disabilities in regular recreation programs.

Child Life Emphasis

Professionals in the Child Life specialty assist children and families in adjusting to the stress of serious illness and other challenging life events. Child Life is a health-oriented profession dedicated to improving well-being and growth of children, emphasizing play and leisure activities to improve function in physical, emotional, social and cognitive domains. The Child Life Council began in 1998 to direct national, professional certification.  It establishes coursework and internship requirements for certification. Graduates in Leisure Studies with an emphasis in Child Life are eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination offered by the Child Life Council.

The majority of children’s hospitals and pediatric units within other healthcare facilities employ Child Life Specialists to address cognitive, social and psychological issues associated with illness and hospitalization of children. Several leading health care centers in Iowa (for example, University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines), offer a range of Child Life services. Child Life Specialists may also work in rehabilitation centers, hospice, private practice and consulting, special purpose camps, and school systems.  The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital and its Child Life Program have partnered with the Leisure Studies Program to offer the Child Life emphasis, facilitating practicum experiences and offering internship possibilities for Child Life students. Child Life Specialists at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital provide services on five different inpatient units and a variety of outpatient settings for pediatric patients and their families.

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