Wisconsin Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities

Training Curriculum

WI LEND trains both “long-term” and “intermediate-term” Trainees. Long-term Trainees complete a minimum of 300 mentored training hours that includes a blend of didactic and experiential learning opportunities designed to advance knowledge and skill across a range of leadership and interdisciplinary practice competencies. Intermediate Trainees complete training in a limited number of LEND training activities to advance knowledge and skill in one or more competencies. Some Trainees complete WI LEND as an integrated part of their graduate degree program, or as a way to fulfill an externship, internship, or field placement required by their graduate or professional training program.

Both long-term and intermediate-term Trainees complete instruction scheduled on Friday afternoons across fall and spring semesters.

2024-2025 Semester Calendar

Curriculum Overview

WI LEND provides a structured two-semester curriculum for new Trainees. This  curriculum is divided into three learning units: Getting Started, Core Learning Modules, and Next Steps. The learning units follow a developmental progression that supports Trainees to develop knowledge and skill across a set of national and WI LEND-specific competencies, as well as to advance toward individual leadership development goals.

Trainees are required to complete a minimum of 300 training hours and achieve competencies to graduate from the program with a LEND certificate. The curriculum requires participation in research lectures, core curriculum seminars, and case-based learning that are held on Fridays (approximately 12-4:30pm) during the University’s academic school year. Additional required training activities include a practicum to practice discipline-specific skills in an interdisciplinary clinical or community project team; a research placement with Waisman Center-affiliated faculty or academic staff; and a Family Mentor placement in which trainees learn directly from families of children with a developmental disability. Trainees can schedule these activities around their other commitments, within a constrained set of scheduling options (e.g., a Trainee completing a clinical practicum will be matched to a half-day clinic that matches their learning objectives and schedule).

Long-term Trainees pursue leadership development through leadership skill workshops, individual mentoring, feedback from practicum and placement preceptors, and development of individualized leadership training plans. Trainees may also apply for additional opportunities, such as attending a conference in Washington D.C. related to disability, maternal and child health, or disability policy. Elective training activities allow Trainees to customize the training experience to meet the goals set in their individualized leadership training plans.

A recommended (but not required) preparation for LEND trainees is completion of an introductory course in disability, taken either prior to entering the LEND program, or concurrently with the first semester. There are currently three such courses at UW-Madison: Rehab Psy & Spec Ed 660 “Critical Issues in Severe Disabilities,” Social Work 644 (or 579) “Issues in Developmental Disabilities,” and Nursing 746 “Interdisciplinary Care of Children with Special Health Care Needs.” Please indicate on your application if you have completed any of these, or a similar course at a different university.

Required Activities

  • Summer preparation (assessments, readings, and online content)
  • 2-day Orientation scheduled immediately prior to Fall semester (usually last week of August)
  • Participation in Friday afternoon seminars and case-based learning modules (Trainees should be available between approximately 12-4:30 on Fridays durring Fall and Spring Semesters)
  • Self-scheduled study and assignments
  • Interdisciplinary family-centered practicum
  • Core research seminars and participation in a research project
  • Family Mentor and other community-based experiences
  • Leadership development workshops
  • Mentoring/preceptor feedback

Curriculum Structure

Learning Unit I: Orientation and Getting Started

During the this unit, Trainees review and reflect on the education and experiences that led to their decision to participate in the WI LEND Program and learn more about the content and organization of the training program. Trainees also complete competency self-assessments and, with their mentor, develop an individualized leadership training plan. Didactic instruction and case-based learning begins with a focus on typical and atypical child development. This unit includes a two-and-a-half-day Orientation and continues through the first one or two Friday afternoons of the Fall semester.

Learning Unit II: Core Curriculum Modules 1-6

Trainees participate in Friday afternoon core curriculum seminars; case-based learning in interdisciplinary teams; clinical and community work with an interdisciplinary team; the Family Mentor program; self study; and supervision/mentoring designed to help them meet their individualized goals and achieve curriculum competencies. Specific sites and content for activities are selected in consultation with the primary discipline and interdisciplinary mentors to ensure that each trainee is engaged in ways that challenge and support them to develop their leadership skills and fulfill their training program requirements.

Learning Unit III: Next Steps

This is a time for reflection and transition. Trainees and faculty assess the degree to which the competencies specified were met and identify the steps trainees will take to meet their goal of assuming leadership positions to improve the lives of children with neurodevelopmental and related disabilities and their families. Before graduating, Trainees present on their leadership journey and present a poster on their research placement.

Stipends are awarded to long-term Trainees who are eligible (based on federal regulations and University policy) to receive a federally funded traineeship to support participation in the training program. Amounts vary, but the typical stipend for Trainees who aren’t completing the LEND long-term training curriculum as an integrated part of a graduate degree is about $6500/year, with payments spread over the full training period. The method of payment is determined by the Trainee’s affiliation or position with the University, and may include payment through online student account, payroll, or a direct check. Because of funding eligibility restrictions, applicant eligibility for a stipend will be determined and communicated with each applicant.