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Rehab program seeking national recognition
T. S. Johnson / Senior Staff Writer
In 2011, the UNT Rehabilitation Counseling Graduate Program was recognized as one of the best in the country and hasn’t looked back, focusing its attention on multiple studies and community service.
The US News & World Report released its college rankings list in 2011 and pegged the UNT program as the No. 13 best in the country and best in Texas. Members of the department want to be ranked higher in the 2014 report, associate professor Denise Catalano said.
Reports come out every three years.
The department works on projects such as treatments for patients with mental and physical disorders, employee and community integration, and employment and disability substance abuse prevention.
Receiving recognition did not catch the department by surprise, as the staff watched the rankings with a close eye, department of rehabilitation chairperson Linda Holloway said.
The process began years before, after UNT was nationally ranked in the top-25 in the previous report.
“One of the things they look at is the quality of our faculty,” Holloway said. “They also look at student contributions to the field, our research productivity and our service to the profession.”
Numerous faculty members in the department have made themselves extremely visible, Holloway said. This keeps UNT fresh in the minds of voters, which are largely made up of other college officials.
“Dr. Paul Leung is an expert in multi-cultural issues in rehab, he’s got numerous awards,” Holloway said.. “Virtually every one of our faculty is very engaged in the profession.”
The program hopes to keep up its pace of research, retaining their prominent standing in the industry, Catalano said.
“We hope to improve our records by making sure that our work is getting out there,” Catalano said. “The goal is not the rankings, the goal is to do the work were supposed to do and get the UNT name out there.”
Catalano has done her share of research, recently developing a study focused on determining how much toughness or resilience affects the rehabilitation process. She is collaborating with the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation as they perform the study on people with spinal cord injuries.
“The study is on how much their resilience helps them adapt to the changes they undergo in life after a serious injury,” Catalano said.
The department has also collaborated with the Veterans Association in order to help graduate students get jobs with it after receiving their masters. They are also involved with the “Troops to Counselors” program, which helps troubled soldiers recover upon their return from overseas.
Though the studies are important, the main goal of the rehab program is to locate great students, Holloway said. The department attracts students from all over the country, offering classes online.
“Many students still come from local areas,” Holloway said. “There’s only 100 rehab counseling programs in the United States, so the online program offers people without a local school to receive a great education.”
Current graduate students know they are receiving a great education, rehabilitation counseling graduate student Skylar Conover said.
“I enjoy the fact that it’s highly touted,” Conover said. “I know that I’m getting the education required to have success in my career.”