By Kate Hunger
Occupational Therapy Associate Professor Karin Barnes will be named a fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association at the organization’s annual conference and centennial celebration in Philadelphia this spring.
A specialist in pediatrics, Barnes' projects include Project Reaching More, a Department of Education grant-funded training program designed to increase the number of occupational therapists working with children in early intervention and public school settings. Now in its last year, the program is designed to provide extra support to participating scholars to make sure they are ready to work in those settings, which experience a shortage of occupational therapists, Barnes said.
“I feel very dedicated to our occupational therapy students having an understanding of working with children in their real life—in their homes, schools and community,” Barnes said. “That’s where they live. Occupational therapists are really good at doing that. I think that the natural environment has always been my emphasis and my love, too. I think it’s so important for the OT students to have an appreciation for that and a love for that.”
Barnes, who served as department chair until this semester, is co-investigator on the Go Baby Go! research project led by Occupational Therapy Assistant Professor Ana Allegretti. That project provides modified ride-on toy cars to young children with mobility challenges to allow them to interact socially and engage with their world. Barnes assesses the children in the program to measure the impact of the mobility intervention on their development.
Occupational Therapy Associate Professor Kimatha Oxford Grice nominated Barnes. In her nomination letter, Grice cited Barnes’ long record of service and contributions to the field.
“In summary, Dr. Karin Barnes has been an integral part of the occupational therapy program at The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio since its inception,” Grice wrote, noting that the program built a stellar reputation during Barnes’ recent tenure as department chair. “The program has over 300 applicants each year, due to its outstanding reputation. In addition, she has continued to teach and share her expertise with hundreds of graduates.”
Barnes will receive the honor at an awards ceremony on April 1.