I graduated from Hebrew University in Jerusalem with a bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy in 1992. The advanced degree program in occupational therapy was still in its infancy at that time, so my husband and I decided to move back to his native city, New York. There I earned both a master’s degree and a doctorate −with a specialization in developmental disabilities and pediatrics− from New York University.
Choosing to attend the Hebrew University was a no-brainer. I was born in Jerusalem and Hebrew University was one of the symbolic and historic pillars of the city. My older brother and sister already completed their education there, as well as my brother-in-law and many cousins. I also knew that the occupational therapy program was one of the strongest in the country, with a distinguished national and international reputation. Indeed, I was fortunate to learn from some of the most internationally renowned faculty including Dr. Shula Parush and Dr. Noomi Katz. Both were my inspiration for pursuing an academic career. They were my role models and represented the kind of teacher and researcher I wanted to be.
While in school I knew I was receiving the strong foundation I needed for my future career as an occupational therapist and a researcher. This foundation included theories, treatment approaches, and research skills. When I moved to New York, it was affirmed again and again that the education I received at Hebrew University was of the highest quality. Shortly after moving to New York I successfully passed the National Board Exam in Occupational Therapy (in English!) with no need for any additional training. I was accepted to my first choice graduate school where I was told by many professors that they value and respect their colleagues at Hebrew University. The knowledge and skills I acquired at Hebrew University served me well as I pursued more advanced studies and began my own academic career.
Today I am a Professor and Associate Director of Research and Scholarship for the Occupational Therapy Department at Touro College School of Health Sciences in New York City and Bay Shore, Long Island. My research and clinical practice focuses on life-skills training for young adults with developmental disabilities and their families as they transition from school to adult life. I frequently present at professional conferences, where I always enjoy seeing my professors and colleagues from Hebrew University. I have written numerous articles and book chapters about transition, person-centered planning, and school-based occupational therapy. I also serve on the editorial board of the Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention. My most recent publication is an edited book, Transitions Across the Lifespan: An Occupational Therapy Approach (AOTA Press, Oct. 2015). I was the recipient of the Roster of Fellows Award given by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), which recognizes members who have made significant contributions to the continuing education and professional development of occupational therapy practitioners.
I feel blessed that I had the good fortune of attending Hebrew University’s occupational therapy program. It paved the way for me as I set myself on the journey that continues to inspire me, motivate me and bring purpose to my life in the pursuit of helping others in a meaningful way.
To learn more about Meira Orentlicher, click here.