For the past year I have had the pleasure of being a trainee in the North Carolina Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program at the UNCCenter for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (CIDD). This federally funded program is dedicated to providing interdisciplinary leadership training at undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels. The training program includes students from a wide array of disciplines including Audiology, Genetic Counseling, Health Policy and Management, Nursing, Nutrition, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Psychology, Social Work, Special Education, and Speech-Language Pathology. The program is designed to encourage family-centered care and therefore includes family member trainees as well as self-advocates.
The LEND program incorporates varied learning experiences, all of which are rooted in interdisciplinary practice and emphasize understanding and cooperation across disciplines. These experiences include clinics at the CIDD, a problem-based learning course that addresses developmental disabilities across the life span, lectures from CIDD staff members, and UNC Maternal and Child Health Leadership Consortium workshops to develop leadership skills.
I find the most formative aspect of the LEND program is the opportunity to learn alongside students in an array of fields. I observe other disciplines’ assessments, engage in open dialogue about the child’s strengths and challenges, and collaborate to provide meaningful recommendations to the family. I am constantly surprised by the ways that our disciplines overlap and also have unique ways to address a child’s needs. Working alongside the other disciplines has helped me further understand the scope of OT. This experience has been paramount in helping me understand how disciples can support each other to provide holistic care as well as building my confidence in interdisciplinary collaboration.