Debbie Hommel's A.D. Tips
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by Debbie Hommel, BA, ACC, CTRS, Executive Director of DH Special Services
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Executive Director
DH Special Services
About Debbie

Debbie Hommel, BA, ACC,
CTRS, is the Executive
Director of DH Special
Services. She is a Certified
Activity Consultant on State
and National level, with over
twenty-seven years of
experience in providing direct
care and consultation to long
term care, medical day care,
assisted living, and ICF/MR
facilities throughout New
Jersey, New York, Maryland,
and Pennsylvania. She is an
experienced trainer and
workshop presenter,
conducting a variety of
seminars throughout the
Tri-State area for the Activity
Professional, Administrator,
and allied healthcare
professional. Debbie Hommel
is an active member of Activity
Professional Associations on
State and National levels. She
is ACC certified through the
NCCAP. She is a founding
member of the New Jersey
Activity Professionals'
Association, serving terms as
Vice President and President.
She received the Weidner
Lifetime Achievement Award
in 1994 and the Monmouth &
Ocean County Activity
Professionals Life
Achievement Award in 1999.
Let Debbie answer your
Activity Questions
Providing Internet Resources
for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings

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Education and the Activity Professional:
Learning Opportunities for All
by Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

Most activity professionals have a personal story as to how they found their job in
activities.  Often the job was found by chance or through another department.  Very few
people say “I want to conduct activities for the elderly in a nursing home when I grow
up.”  However we find our way in the activity department, when we get there, we know
this is where we belong.  We quickly learn that working in the activity department is a
profession and we strive to become a career activity professional.  We learn that there
is training and certifications for our profession.  We develop a plan to acquire the
education and certification associated with being a career activity professional.   In
developing our plan, we find there are two paths one can take to acquire the education
and training required to meet national certification standards.  One path is the
traditional classroom path which involves attending trainings, workshops and seminars
at an off site location.  An alternate path is considered a non traditional path and
involves a variety of independent study and self directed methods of learning.

  The traditional classroom method is the most familiar as many of us were brought
through the public education system.  Students gather and the teacher teaches.  In the
professional world, we continue our learning through seminars and workshops.  Adult
education often takes a different direction as the adult learner is more autonomous,
self-directed and goal oriented. The adult student often has accumulated life
experiences and knowledge which should be considered, even if that experience and
knowledge is not directly related to the subject at hand.  Professional seminars and
training often involve the participant more; include critical thinking exercises and
opportunities to share experiences and resources.  The activity profession has many
traditional educational experiences available.  There are many national, state and local
activity professional organizations as well as private consultants who sponsor
educational opportunities.  Attending a gathering of professional peers can be
rejuvenating and inspiring as well as educational.  I have a listing of the Associations
and seminars on my web site.  

Some individuals find meeting their educational goals through the traditional
classroom method challenging as it requires leaving your building for extended periods
of time.  For single person departments, this commitment is difficult.  Transportation to
and from the classes, the travel distance to the offered classes and time constraints
are common barriers in pursuing the traditional educational path.  Today, there is a very
active and diverse non traditional path to education.  Today, the activity professional can
acquire a wide range of knowledge through internet classes and independent study
programs.  Self-directed learning allows the adult learner to take control of their own
learning and set their own goals.  However, the individual pursuing independent study
methods needs to be resourceful, able to meet deadlines and self directed in applying
knowledge.  Here are some of the terms associated with the non traditional method of

  • Independent Study: This is the general term for study and research outside of
    the classroom setting,  with guidance from the instructor for an agreed upon
    amount of credits.
  • Distance education, distance learning or sometimes called guided
    correspondence is independent study where the students and teacher
    communicate at times of their own choosing by exchanging printed or electronic
    information, or through technology that allows them to communicate and
    through other online ways such as chat rooms or bulletin boards.
  • On line education or Electronic learning or e-Learning or eLearning is a type of
    technology supported education/learning where the mode of instruction is
    through computer technology.  All the coursework, information and interaction
    are accessed via the computer and internet.  
  • Web conference is where each student sits at his or her own computer and is
    connected to other participants via the internet. This can be done through a
    downloaded application for each attendee or a web-based application where
    the student simply enter a web site to enter the conference.  A Webinar is a term
    for a specific type of web conference.  It is usually a one way conference with the
    speaker presenting and some interaction with the audience through chat lines
    and instant messaging.  It can include polling and question and answer
    sessions to allow interaction between the presenter and the audience.  Some
    webinars are done over a phone line, with the speaker talking via the phone and
    the participants participating via speaker phone.

If taking an independent study educational program to use in becoming certified or
renewing certification through the National Certification Council of Activity Professionals,
make sure the course is pre-approved through NCCAP. They will not accept
independent study courses which are not pre-approved by them.   Here is a listing of
some of the approved activity based independent study methods:

The Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals (MEPAP) is available through
independent study.  Each instructor has various ways they present the course and
communicate with the students.  My independent study version involves reading,
learning activities, practicum experiences, internet research, class bulletin board
postings and class discussions through a chat room.   

To access the list of approved instructors, visit the NCCAP instructor page.

There are several web sites which offer continuing education through the non traditional
method of learning.  Here are some of the sites:

DH Special Services : Take pre-test, read the book, take post-test and submit via email
or fax.  Great way to build professional library as you get to keep the book.

Activities Assistance: These programs can be emailed to you as well as sent hard copy.

Activity Director’s Network: Downloadable programs.

Center for Health Care Education: Some of these are audio tapes you would listen to
and others are programs you would read.

Medical Update: These programs are based on books and testing.

Re-Creative Resources:  NCCAP approved webinars.

Inner Rhythm Activity Program: Has programs on CD or can download.

LTC Support Services has home study programs. has programs on CD and DVD

The NCCAP offers a weekly chat where you can also apply for continuing education

You can also check for new listings on the NCCAP bulletin board.  They have a section
for independent study continuing education.

Pursuing knowledge should be a life long commitment for the career activity
professional.  Frances Bacon said it best when he said “For knowledge itself is
power.”  One of the best ways to influence change is to lead by example and become
the expert at what we do.  Continuing education is one way to achieve that end.