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New Master of Occupational Therapy Coming to ISU-Meridian

Male patient uses occupational therapy device with female therapist guiding him

MERIDIAN, ID - February 11, 2021

While the coronavirus pandemic has delayed much throughout the United States, the campus of Idaho State University - Meridian is still forging ahead with plans to offer a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy (MOT), as well as welcoming a new director of the MOT program.

Dr. Barbara Kornblau was named the director of the MOT program in August 2020, and has since been working remotely from the metro Washington D.C. area.

“With so much online and on Zoom during the pandemic, it sometimes seems that everyone is working remotely these days,” Kornblau said. “It seems to make my transition easier.”

Kornblau says that, even with the unique challenges of the pandemic, progress continues to be made in the education of occupational therapists. She said she is currently revising the third edition of her ethics textbook, as The American Occupational Therapy Association revised its Code of Ethics.

“We have great staff, strong and experienced faculty, an enthusiastic new director, and excellent support from the School of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences and Kasiska Division of Health Sciences at ISU,” said Carla Green, administrative assistant for the Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy. “Our next steps are to find new faculty to join our team and begin enrolling students.”

Green says this has been in the works for years, since the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program expanded to Meridian in 2018. Idaho State included plans for the MOT program to expand there as well, ensuring a full kitchen, driving simulator, overhead track system, and more were installed in preparation. All classrooms will also be equipped with distance learning equipment.

“The opening of the Meridian campus is the result of years of documentation and submissions from current and past MOT faculty and ISU administration,” said Green. “It required approval from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) and the Idaho State Board of Education (SBOE).”

The expansion of this program comes just as the MOT program is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2021. As the program has continued to grow, it has helped provide the community with greater access to occupational therapists across Idaho, and the MOT program will continue that growth.

“From children with learning-related needs in the schools to older adults who want to stay in their homes to live independently as long as possible, all will have more access to highly trained, highly competent occupational therapy professionals,” Kornblau said.

While starting any new program can be daunting, Kornblau and the rest of the faculty and staff are prepared and excited to meet the challenges head-on. Any new program can expect a learning curve, but with the DPT program and the faculty’s expertise, adjustments will be made efficiently and with ease.

“Our students graduate prepared to be independent occupational therapists, who can meet the unique needs of Idaho's population, from rural to urban,” Kornblau said.

The MOT will start in the Fall of 2022 with its first 20 students. The program will hire a faculty member in the spring of 2021, a second in the fall, and a third in 2022 to have a strong presence by the time students arrive on campus. 

As there is strong competition to get into the program, successful candidates will have strong GPAs and GRE scores, among other attributes. In general, students should be highly motivated, independent learners, comfortable with technology, and ready to assume the professional responsibility of serving the public as occupational therapists.

“Students that meet or exceed all of our admissions criteria by our priority deadline have the best chance of being offered a seat at one of our campuses,” Green said. “We receive many applications that don’t meet our requirements, and those candidates, unfortunately, will not be considered.”

The MOT program has a record of 100 percent job placement, and class sizes are usually smaller, enabling more hands-on learning.