American Therapeutic Recreation Association

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Spotlight on the 2017  Distinguished Fellow Award Winner Missy Armstrong, MS, CTRS/R, FDRT

The Distinguished Fellow Award requires that a person excel in the following areas of their career: Membership to ATRA, experience, service, leadership, and professional contribution through research, publications and presentations.  Missy Armstrong’s contribution to the profession of recreational therapy far exceeds these expectations.  Missy began her career in 1977 at Harbor View Medical Center as a recreational therapist providing direct patient care on a rehabilitation unit. For the past 40 years she has assumed increased responsibility for the quality of patient care at Harborview MC as: Supervisor of OT, PT, and TR, Manager or Rehabilitation Therapies for Trauma Rehab and Psychiatry, and Manger of Strategic Projects for Patient Care Services and Psychiatry.  

During this time Missy has also been an active member of ATRA (1988) and the Washington Therapeutic Recreation Association (1979). She has assumed leadership responsibilities in both organizations, specifically noting her work in ATRA as President, President- elect, Secretary (2 terms), Member of the Federal Public Policy Committee, State Recognition sub-committee, Co-Chair of the Joint Task Force on Credentialing and Chair of Legislative Action.  She has always been committed to the process and the success of ATRA.  She is quick to become involved, assuming challenging responsibilities, negotiating difficult conversations with respect and honor, and always caring about the good of the order.  

Missy’s scholarly contribution spans her career.  She was quick to recognize the lack of evidence-based research in therapeutic recreation and set out to contribute to the TR body of knowledge. The Community Integration Program that she designed remains one of the most comprehensive assessments for transitional care in the health care industry.  In addition Missy’s scholarly work includes the “State Recognition Options in Therapeutic Recreation” and numerous journal articles.  What is often overlooked when discussing the clinician and their scholarly work (written contribution to the field) is the actual clinical work that is developed and implemented for patient care.  Missy’s scholarship for Harborview MC, a Division One research institution and medical school, is used as a template across the country for other organizations in their Physical Medicine programs and PT, OT, and RT Departments. Along with written scholarship Missy has presented hundreds of conference sessions, workshops and trainings; her expertise in management, credentialing, rehabilitation services, organizational structure and physical medicine is not only sought by ATRA but from the larger health care industry.  

Missy is a true leader, a master therapist and a phenomenal educator.  She listens, respects differences, and demonstrates the highest level of integrity. ATRA has many distinguished individuals in our organization but few are as self-sacrificing for the good of the profession and the clients we serve as Missy Armstrong.