Vanderbilt LEND director leads development of national disabilities curriculum resource

Tyler Reimschisel, M.D.

Vanderbilt neurogeneticist Tyler Reimschisel, M.D., has led the development of a customizable neurodevelopmental disabilities curriculum resource that is now available to the national network of LEND and UCEDD programs. The curriculum utilizes the extensive expertise of more than 60 LEND and UCEDD faculty nationwide. It will provide core content for trainees from diverse professions to better meet the health and wellness needs of infants, children, and adolescents with disabilities.

LENDs (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) and UCEDDs (University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities), along with IDDRCs (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers) comprise a national network of university-affiliated programs that engage in training, research, services, and dissemination related to intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is home to LEND, UCEDD, and IDDRC programs, one of the few centers nationwide to have all three programs.

“It is a privilege for me to be part of creating this resource because it is our hope that it will help LEND and UCEDD programs train the next generation of leaders in neurodevelopmental disabilities,” said Reimschisel, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Neurology, director of the Division of Developmental Medicine, and director of Vanderbilt LEND.

The curriculum resource is divided into multiple modules. Modular topics include diagnosis-specific topics like autism, Down syndrome, and hearing impairment, as well as topics that are of particular importance in the field of neurodevelopmental disabilities, such as life course, school-based services, health policy, and cultural competency. Program faculty can pull from the repository of resources and activities to customize their curriculum based on their own program’s goals and objectives. The structure of the modules also allows each program to teach in the format that is most conducive to the structure of their programs, including through lectures and other large group sessions, small group discussions, asynchronous online learning, or a blended format.

“Given the diversity in the LEND and UCEDD programs,” added Reimschisel. “It is important that we provide resources that move us beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to learning.”

Thirty-two modules will be available for the 2015-16 academic year. Each module includes a broad goal, measurable learning objectives, and an extensive list of preparation materials, such as articles, book chapters, PowerPoint slide sets, and online resources such as websites and videos. The modules also include a variety of assignments, such as questions and cases for small group discussions, multiple-choice questions, team-based learning activities, and questions for critical reflection. Additional resources are available for trainees who have a strong interest or advanced knowledge in the topic area.

At the national Network level, Jamie Perry, M.D., M.P.H., director of Maternal and Child Health Technical Assistance at the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD), provided support and assistance for the project. Perry says that all 43 of the network programs have requested access to the curriculum resources, and this means that the curriculum resources could impact the more than 3,000 LEND trainees each year.

“The high rate of requests for the curriculum and the level of faculty engagement that we had in its development is a testament to the need for this type of high-quality curriculum resource for training programs,” Perry said. “AUCD is very pleased to have worked with the Vanderbilt LEND on this project. AUCD Network LEND and UCEDD programs are responsible for a significant amount of content related to neurodevelopmental disabilities and leadership development topics. With 43 LEND programs across the country, it should not be surprising that programs differ in their training approaches and technological capacity. As a result of this project, all AUCD Network programs now have access to online customizable modules on important training topics, created by experts, and even have access to the Moodle learning management system for content delivery. These resources can boost the capacity of all AUCD Network programs to provide core curriculum content in a flexible format. The training year is just beginning, so we look forward to receiving feedback over the coming months on how programs are integrating these resources with existing curricula. It’s an exciting time for our Network.”

LEND programs prepare health professionals to assume leadership roles and to develop interdisciplinary team skills, advanced clinical skills, and research skills, in order to meet the complex needs of children with neurodevelopmental and related disabilities.

The Vanderbilt LEND provides training for advanced graduate students and postgraduate professionals in audiology, deaf education, family/parent resources, nursing, nutrition, occupational therapy, pediatric dentistry, pediatrics, pharmacy, physical therapy, psychiatry, psychology, religion, social work, special education, and speech-language pathology. In addition to Vanderbilt faculty, the Vanderbilt LEND includes faculty from Belmont University, Tennessee State University, Meharry Medical College, and the University of Tennessee, as well as affiliates of Family Voices of Tennessee.

Courtney Taylor is VKC associate director of Communications.

Pictured top of page: Tyler Reimschisel, M.D. Photo by Vanderbilt University/Joe Howell.

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