Indiana State University Newsroom

New programs keep coming as college works to ease shortages

June 10, 2011

Indiana State University's College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services will launch yet another new health care program following approval by the state Commission for Higher Education.

The commission gave the go ahead Friday for a Master of Science degree in occupational therapy. It is one of four new programs the college has implemented or proposed in the past year as part of an ambitious effort to address a shortage of health care providers, especially in rural areas.

"We are pleased that the commission has once again approved a proposal from the College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services for a program designed to put more skilled professionals on the front lines of health care in Indiana," said Jack Maynard, ISU's provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Indiana State University was a founding partner in the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative and we are proud of the leading role the college has played in developing new health care programs and delivery methods to serve rural areas."

There is a nationwide shortage of occupational therapists, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which projects a 26 percent increase in occupational therapy jobs by 2016. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development projects even greater demand at the state level, with the number of positions statewide expected to grow by 27.1 percent during the next five years.

There are currently only three master's level occupational therapy programs in the state, noted Biff Williams, dean of the college.

"We appreciate the support of the university and the commission for our efforts to ease the shortage of health care providers. As with all of our programs, the goal is not only to give students the skills they will need to be good occupational therapists but also to have them learn and work alongside students and professionals from other health care fields," Williams said.

Leamor Kahanov, chair of the department of applied medicine and rehabilitation, said it is that inter-professional approach that sets Indiana State's program apart.

"Students will be educated alongside physical therapy, athletic training, physician's assistant and nursing students. The goal is to learn not only the profession but how to work as a team for the best outcome of the patient," Kahanov said.

Expected to start in 2013, the master's in occupational therapy will be an eight-semester, 81-credit hour program. It will include 31 weeks of clinical experience and other service-learning opportunities. Curriculum will focus on biological, behavioral and clinical sciences, research and clinical education.

Other new programs in the College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services include Doctor of Nursing Practice, a Master of Science in physician assistant studies and an accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing for persons with existing baccalaureate degrees, all of which were launched within the past year. A new doctoral program in physical therapy will begin this fall while two other new programs - a Ph.D. in health sciences and a Master of Social Work - are awaiting commission approval.

Contact: Biff Williams, dean, College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services, Indiana State University, 812-237-3683 or

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or



Story Highlights

The Commission for Higher Education has approved a Master of Science program in occupational therapy. It is the latest in a series of new programs the College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services has developed to address a health care shortage.

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