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Faculty Focus: Meet Courtney Boren
August 26, 2019

Courtney Boren’s life was changed by a girl scout meeting.

This life-altering event had nothing to do with cookies or even a badge.

“In sixth grade, an occupational therapist came to my troop meeting,” the Greeneville native recalls.
“We could try out many of the tools she brought, and I remember her describing how those tools were used to help children develop needed skills. I decided that night that I wanted to do this with my life.”
Boren is the occupational therapy assistant program director at Walters State. The program received accreditation in the spring and the first graduates claimed their degrees in May. The first class earned a 100% pass rate on the licensure exam.
“In the beginning, I wanted to work with pediatrics. My first job was at Laughlin Hospital working with children. Then I was transferred to working with elderly or disabled patients at a nursing home. I fell in love with that job and decided that was where I wanted to spend my career.”
Boren had a chance to get to know her patients on a deeper level. And she was able to tailor treatment plans to the needs of each patient. Watching the progress was the most rewarding aspect of the job.
“You do have a sense of accomplishment in that you are able to help individuals improve. In the case of older individuals, you are often helping someone who has lost the skills needed to live independently. I really enjoyed seeing an individual make progress with each session. When they are released to go home, they are grateful to everyone. Your role may have been small, but you have made a big difference to that person and the entire family,” Boren said. 
Of course, we know that Boren did not spend her life working as an occupational therapy specializing in geriatrics. Instead, she brought her skills to Walters State. How did that happen?
“I began proctoring anatomy and physiology for the Regents Online Degree Program. I enjoyed teaching. When I learned that Walters State was going to have a program, I reached out to Marty Rucker (dean of health programs) and told her I would be interested in teaching adjunct. She encouraged to apply for the director’s position and it’s been great.”
Getting the program off the ground was a challenge, but Boren cites the many helpers who surrounded her – beginning with Rucker and faculty and staff in the Division of Health Programs.
“When I joined, we were at the beginning of the accreditation process. I did a lot of research and the college provided me with many professional development opportunities as I designed the curriculum,” Boren said. She even received assistance and advice from the directors of the other four OTA programs at Tennessee community colleges. Boren was also selected to participate in a pilot program for new educators sponsored by the American Occupational Therapy Association. 
“I love teaching, and, within the field, academia is viewed as its own form of practice. I know what I do is important not only to my students, but to my profession. We have to be proactive about training the next generation.”
To complete her circle, Boren would love to talk to a Girl Scout (or Boy Scout) troop about occupational therapy as a career. Meanwhile, she’s a big hit on the middle school career-day circuit.