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Careers in rehabilitation with an undergraduate degree in rehabilitation.

A bachelor's degree in rehabilitation provides the foundation for a myriad of careers within the broad spectrum of human services. The purpose of this article, which is based on the National Council on Rehabilitationn Education's (NCRE) position statement on Undergraduate Education (1987), is to provide specific information about some of those career options.

Undergraduate Education

NCRE's position statement on Undergraduate Rehabilitation Education stresses that the foundation of a quality baccalaureate program is its emphasis in preparation in the liberal arts. Coupled with focused pre-professional training in rehabilitation, the liberal arts component prepares students to become "thinkers" as well as "doers" within their careers. According to NCRE, the objective is to graduate people who are knowledgeable and literate in the humanities and who have competenncies in the social and psychological sciences as they pertain to people with social, physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. The primary purposes of the undergraduate programs are to prepare students for direct employment in rehabilitation-related positions and/or graduate work in rehabilitations or allied human service professions.

Undergraduate programs in rehabilitation are typically associated with programs in rehabilitation, counseling, psychology, allied health, education, or social work. While there may be variance in their specific degree requirements, typical course work of content, in addition to course work in the liberal arts and sciences, most programs include:

* the history and philosophy of vocational rehabilitation and independent living programs;

* human growth and development;

* legal and ethical principles;

* case management;

* interpersonal helping and human relations;

* interviewing;

* community resources;

* client advocacy;

* behavior management;

* introductory sections on job development and placement, vocational evaluation, supported employment, and medical and psychosocial aspects of disability; and

* practicum/internship experience in a rehabilitation service setting.

In some cases, undergraduate programs may offer specialization tracks within the general rehabilitation curriculum. Examples of specialty areas include vocational evaluation, deafness, substance abuse/addiction studies, mobility training, and criminal justice. Students will frequently supplement their major in rehabilitation services by selecting a minor in such allied areas as psychology, social work, sociology, criminal justice, communication disorders, recreation, or business administrtion.

Career Possibilities for Graduates in Rehabilitation Services

Job Titles. While there may be significant overlap in job responsibilities, job titles for rehabilitation majors tend to vary depending on the place of employment. Examples of job titles include rehabilitation specialist, interviewer, placement specialist, job developer, personal-social adjustment instructor, case-worker, supported employment specialist, job coach, counselor aide, vocational evaluator aide, mental health technician, independent living coordinator, corrections specialist (parole/probation), client advocate, eligibility worker, and health technician.

Job Competencies. Competencies required by persons in these types of positions also vary with the primary focus of the job setting. However, at a minimum, rehabilitation graduates can be expected to bring the following kinds of knowledge and skills to any position: intake interviewing, case finding and community outreach, basic case management, fundamental vocational evaluation and work adjustment techniques and procedures, preliminary job development and job plalcement techniques, client advocacy, individual rehabilitation program planning, behavior change techniques, and specialized administrative/supervisory skills.

Employment Settings. Because of the baccalaureate is designed to prepapre students as generalists within the rehabilitation field, graduates from these programs are qualified for a variety of entry-level positions in human services. Employers select these graduates because of their strong orientation in rehabilitation philosophy with its positive emphasis on abilities and potential. They are trained to take a holistic approach aimed at maximizing the quality of life of each person with whom they work.

Baccalaureate-level rehabilitation majors can be found in virtually any type of agency or program that provides services to people. The most frequent employment settings are those directly related to rehabilitation, such as work adjustment programs, supported employment programs, sheltered workshops, group homes, centers for independent living, mental health centers, developmental disbilities programs, disability specific programs (blind, deaf, head injured, etc.), client assistance programs, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, proprietary rehabilitation services, and disability determination units.

Because their specialty is working with people, rehabilitation majors are qualified for the same types of employment as graduate of psychology, social work, sociology, and similar programs. Therefore, a significant number of rehabilitation graduates are employed in rehabilitation-related agencies and programs, such as hospitals, employee--assistance programs, correctional programs (institutions, probation, and parole), senior centers and nursing homes, substance abuse programs, therapeutic recreation services, public volunteer programs, disabled student services programs, and human resource development in private industry. The rehabilitation philosophy and its basic concepts provide a constructive addition to the traditional approaches used in many of these settings.

Graduate Study. Because the professional degree in the field of human services is the master's degree, many students use the baccalaureate in rehabilitation as a bridge to their ultimate professional goals. While rehabilitation counseling is the most common professional specialization selected by undergraduate majors, many students pursue graduate work in the rehabilitation specialties of vocational evaluation, work adjustment, rehabilitation administration, job replacement, and supported employment. Other students use the undergraduate rehabilitation degree as a foundation for graduate study in ancillary professional areas. It is not uncommon, for example, for students to pursue graduate degrees in social work, physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, special education, counseling and guidance, public administration, or business. Students find that their undergraduate training in rehabilitation services provides them with important dimensions that significantly broaden their ability to work with people in almost any type of human service area.

Graduates of bachelor's degree programs may be the best spokespersons for the relevance of the degree to their own careers.

The following is narrative by a 1978 graduate of the undergraduate program at the Center for Rehabilitation:

"I began work on the Monday after graduation as an Extended Rehabilitation Services Counselor at a local Goodwill. The supervisor stated that she hired me because my degree was perfect for the job. She was particularly impressed that I knew how to write Individual Program Plans, understood different types of disabilities, and knew basic behavior analysis techniques. Within 1 year I became the coordinator of the program.

"I was later recruited by the local Association for Retarded Citizens to establish a work-activity center for their clients, then moved to the MHMR center where a new psychosocial rehabilitation program was being developed. Persons interviewing me stated my knowledge of rehabilitation principles, individual treatment planning processes, structured learning theory, and behavior analysis convinced them to hire me. They were impressed with rehabilitation's focus on the wellness rather than the illness of the individual, a philosophy they endorsed. I was promoted to coordinator of the program within 5 months. With 2 years I was promoted again, to residential coordinator, while maintaining my responsibilities with the psychosocial rehabilitation program. Two years after that, I was promoted to the position of director of mental health services. At this point, I still had only my bachelor's degree, but had entered into a master's program.

"What I liked most about the undergraduate rehabilitation program was it's applied components. The program taught me how to make decisions and problem solve, as well as how to carry out specific interventions. I learned how to write a task analysis, how to write and implement training plans, and how to manage a caseload. These specific skills were given foundation and context through an indoctrination into the theories and philosophy behind rehabilitation. This mix of practical and philosophical information is critical, because, as the old saying goes, the answers are not in the back of the book. In the complex world of human service delivery, you need to know what to do, how to do it, and in order to innovate, you need to know why it is being done at all."

The stories of the applicability of the degree are repeated in other contexts by other graduates:

* One 1990 graduate indicated that he had received six job offers during his final semester in the program. He took a job which focused on job analysis and accommodation design. One year later, the company has promoted him, moved him to another city, and was helping to finance his graduate work so that he could move into the ranks of management.

* A 1991 Hispanic graudate quickly found a position in the state VR agency providing bi-lingual and culturally focused services to their clientele.

* Another graduate spoke of the impact of the philosophical content: "The undergraduate program in rehabilitation raised my consciousness about the impact of disability and ingrained in me the importance of taking a holistic approach rather than focusing on the disability.

"As a probation officer for persons with emotional and cognitive impairments, I find myself in a system which tends to focus on the offense. Yet, when I consider people and their needs first, I am more able to assist in their rehabilitation and prevent incarceration."

Bachelor's degree programs are capable of producing graduates who are grounded in a philosophy of client empowerment and equipped with initial knowledge and skills to enter into human service delivery. Through their education, these new providers are given the tools to continually increase their knowledge and skill base. Thus, an undergraduate degree in rehabilitation provides both a platform for service and a stepping stone to higher professional levels of human service delivery.

Programs Offering an Undergraduate Major or Minor Degree in Rehabilitation(1) (Including Contract Persons--Alphabetized by State)

Theodore Childs, Ph.D. Rehabilitation Education Talladega College Talladega, Alabama 35160

Joseph B. Harrington, Chair Department of Human Service Troy State University Troy, Alabama 36082

Lyman B. Harris, Ph.D. Director Rehabilitation Science Witherspoon Hall Russellville, Arkansas 72801

Amos Sales, Ed.D. Special Education and Rehabilation University of Arizona 1415 North Fremont Tucson, Arizona 85721

Martin Broadwin, Ph.D. School of Education California State University at Los Angeles 5151 State University Drive Los Angeles, California 90032

Richard Wolff, Ph.D. Department of Human Services University of Northern Colorado McKee--Room 41 Greeley, Colorado 80639

Mark Shibles, Ph.D. School of Education University of Connecticut 1266 Storrs Road Storrs, Connecticut 06268

Horace W. Sawyer, Ed.D. Department of Rehabilitation Counseling University of Florida P.O. Box J-175, Health Science Center Gainesville, Florida 32610

Jane Burkhead, Ph.D. Department of Human Services and Studies Florida State University 215 Stone Building Tallahassee, Florida 32306

Jeanne Patterson, Ph.D. Coordinator Rehabilitation Counseling Program 413 Aderhold Hall Athens, Georgia 30602

Chris Reid, Coordinator Department of Psychology Life Sciences Building Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, Illinois 60616

Sue Ouellette, Ph.D. Department of Communicative Disorders Northern Illinois University Dekalb, Illinois 60115

Ronald H. Karst, Ph.D Counselor, Education & Rehabilitation Programs Emporia State University 1200 Commercial Empora, Kansas 66801

Randall Elston, Ph.D. Educational Leadership and Counseling 434 Wells Hall Murray State University Murray, Kentucky 42071

Madan M. Kundu, Ph.d. Rehabilitation Services Southern University P.O. Box 9681 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70813

John Dolan, Ph.D. Department of Rehabilitation Counseling Louisiana State University Medical Center 1900 Gravier Street, Room 8C1 New Orleans, Louisiana 70112

Douglas Dunlap, Ed.D. Human, Health and Family Studies University of Maine at Farmington Farmington, Maine 04938

Charles Sanders, Ed.D. Department of Psychology Coppin State College 2500 West North Avenue Baltimore, Maryland 21216

Suzanne H. Clay, Director Rehabilitation Services University of Maryland, Eastern Shore P.O. Box 1027 Princess Anne, Maryland 21853

Arthur E, Dell Orto, Ph.D., Chairman Department of Rehabilitation Counseling Sargent College of Allied Health Professions 635 Commonwealth Avenue Boston, Massachusetts 02215

Raymond A. Berte, Ph.D. Rehabilitation Services Department Locklin Hall, 210 Alden Street Springfield College Springfield, Massachusetts 01109

Dr. George S. Elias Project Director--Undergraduate Education Assumption College Institute for Social and Rehabilitative Service 500 Salisbury Street Worcester, Massachusetts 01615

Gerald R. Schneck, Ph.D. Department of Rehabilitation Counseling Mankato State University P.O. Box 52 Mankato, Minnesota 56001

James O. Culberson, Ph.D. Social and Rehabilitation Services University of Southern Mississippi P.O. Box 8278, Southern Station Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39401

Richard Thoreson, Ph.D. Educational and Counseling Psychology University of Missouri 14 Hill Hall Columbia, Missouri 65211

W.C. Wilson, Ph.D. Psychology Department Central Missouri State University Warrensburg, Missouri 64093

Elia G. Nickoloff, Ed.D. Institute for Habilitative Service Eastern Montana College 1500 North 30th Street Billings, Montana 59101

Mike Hermanson Project Director--Undergraduate Education Salish Kootenai College Box 117 Pablo, Montana 59855

Office of Admissions Human Services/Rehabilitation Thomas A. Edison State College 101 West State Street Trenton, New Jersey 08625

Nancy Esibill, Ph.D. Department of Rehabilitation Counseling New York University 50 West 4th Street, Room 432 New York 10012

Monica P. Fraser, Director School Education Dominican College of Blauvelt, NY Orangeburg, New York 10962

Kenneth Reagles, Ph.D. Rehabilitation Services Syracuse University 805 South Crouse Avenue Syracuse, New York 13244

Frances Grant, Director Department of Social Work/Sociology Sociology Livingstone College Salisbury, North Carolina 28144

David C. Perry, Ph.D. Department of Social Work University of North Dakota P.O. Box 8171 Grand Forks, North Dakota 58202

Alyce E. Jenkins, M.Ed. Division of Human Services Wright State University Colonel Glenn Highway Dayton, Ohio 45435

Ruth G. Beall, Director Social Science Division Wilberforce University Wilberforce, Ohio 45384

Richard E. Baumgartner, Ed.D. Department of Human Resources East Central Oklahoma University P.O. Box Z-3 Ada, Oklahoma 74820

Louis E. Gurecka, Chair Special Education Department Clarion University of Pennsylvania Clarion, Pennsylvania 16214

James Bench, Ph.D. Special Education & Clinical Services 224 John Davis Hall Indiana University of Pennsylvania Indiana, Pennsylvania 15705

Harold J. Nichols, Director Sociology/Human Services Lincoln University Lincoln University, Pennsylvania 19352

Undergraduate Coordinator Department of Human Resources University of Scranton 311 O'Hara Hall Scranton, Pennsylvania 18510

Alex Ursprung, Ph.D. Counseling and Educational Psychology 327 Cedar Building Pennsylvania State University University Park, Pennsylvania 16802

Robert Chubbon, Ph.D. Rehabilitation Counseling Program Wardlaw Building College of Education University of South Carolina Columbia, South Carolina 29208

William Jenkins, Ed.D. Department of Counseling & Personnel Services 123 Patterson Hall Memphis State University Memphis, Tennessee 38152

Katrena McCollum, Coordinator Division of Health Related Professions Pan American University 1201 West University Drive Edinburg, Texas 78539

Donald A. Pool, Ph.D. Department of Rehabilitation Science University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard Dallas, Texas 75235

Celia Williamson Center of Rehabilitation Studies University of North Texas P.O. Box 13438 Denton, Texas 76203-3438

William F. Weber, Ed.D. Counseling & Special Education Programs Stephen F. Austin State Unversity P.O. Box 13019 Nacogdoches, Texas 75962

Howard H. Bright, Ph.D. Social Science, Campus Box 62 West Virginia Wesleyan College Buckhannon, West Virginia 26201

William A. McDowell 357 Harris Hall Marshall University Huntington, West Virginia 25701

Norman L. Berven, Ph.D. Rehabilitation Psychology & Special Education University of Wisconsin-Madison 432 North Murray Street Madison, Wisconsin 53706

Brian McMahon, Ph.D. Rehabilitation-Educational Studies University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 755 Enderis Hall P.O. Box 413 Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201

Shirley Stewart, Chair Vocational Rehabilitation University of Wisconsin-Stout Minomonie, Wisconsin 54751

Gerald L. Gandy, Ph.D. Rehabilitation Services Education Virginia Commonwealth University P.O. Box 2030 921 West Franklin Street Richmond, Virginia 23284

Ellen Fabian, Ph.D. School of Education & Human Development George Washington University Academic Center, T-6051 801 22nd Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20052


(1) This partial list was compiled as a part of a review of undergraduate rehabilitation programs now being conducted at the request of NCRE, in cooperation with RSA and CSAVR. The initial report of findings was presented at the 1993 NCRE/RSA/CSAVR Conference in Washington, DC.


National Council on Rehabilitation Education Committee on Undergraduate Education. (1987). NCRE position statement on undergraduate rehabilitation education. Rehabilitation Education. 1(1) 19-27.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:includes list of programs offering major or minor in rehabilitation
Author:Williamson, Celia
Publication:American Rehabilitation
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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