Idaho Students Pass Rehabilitation Counselor National Exam with Flying Colors

Wednesday, June 16 2010

Written by Donna Emert

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – Susan Stuntzner is senior lecturer and program coordinator for the University of Idaho Rehabilitation Counseling master’s degree program. She has occupied the post for just six months. It’s been a very productive six months judging by her students’ success.

As the final step in their academic careers and first step into the profession, rehabilitation counseling students must pass an arduous national exam required by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. Stuntzner’s University of Idaho students at both Moscow and Coeur d’Alene recently achieved a pass rate of 81 percent on the exam; the national average for the March 2010 exam they took was 75 percent.

Their high rate of success even surprised the students a little.

“I think that this cohort of students were able to learn more than they thought they had learned,” said Stuntzner. “They’ve learned to advocate for themselves, and are self confident, and most of them are just very motivated. They were also hard working, and helped each other.”

Stuntzner is based in Coeur d’Alene and also teaches on the Moscow campus.

Rehabilitation counselors work with people with disabilities to achieve personal, career, self sufficiency and independent living goals. Their focus is to empower people with disabilities particularly in the world of work, and to assist them in becoming independent, productive members of society. They work in diverse government organizations and private sector businesses.

While her students’ recent success is gratifying, Stuntzner is currently working with Counseling and School Psychology, Special Education and Educational Leadership Department Chair Russ Joki, and their colleagues, to strengthen the program’s academic focus and provide students broader experience in the real world.

“This is an exciting time of reconfiguration and assessment,” Stuntzner said. “We’re looking at ways to strengthen the program by building stronger relationships with professionals in the Coeur d’Alene and Moscow communities, to serve communities and provide students even more practical and academic experience.”

Current students already serve internships and practicums throughout the region. Those placements include work in community mental health agencies and government agencies.

Students’ internship experiences have been completed at Idaho Vocational Rehabilitation, Rathdrum Counseling Center, New Hope Social Services, Aces Community Services, Children’s Village, Dirne Mental Health, Emerald Counseling, NIC Center for Educational Access and Eagle Crest Life Services.

Stuntzner worked in private, non-profit and governmental sectors of the rehabilitation profession prior to earning her doctorate from University of Wisconsin - Madison, and works in the profession because it is something she enjoys. “In rehabilitation counseling, you get to see people’s lives change,” she said. “It’s something I really believe in. Having the opportunity to teach and train counselors is a real treat.”
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit