Wisconsin Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities

Training Overview

WI LEND trains both “1st year” and “2nd year” Trainees. 1st year Trainees complete a structured 1st year curriculum. Some 1st year Trainees complete the WI LEND in conjunction with an externship, internship, or field placement required by their graduate or professional training program. 2nd year Trainees are selected from applicants who have completed the 1st year curriculum.

Curriculum Overview

WI LEND provides a structured two-semester curriculum for 1st year Trainees. The 1st year curriculum is divided into three learning units: Getting Started, Core Learning Modules, and Next Steps. The learning units follow a developmental process 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 1st year 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 professional practice placement in a clinical or community setting, 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 or special health care need. Trainees can schedule these activities around their other commitments, within a constrained set of scheduling options (e.g., Trainees will be matched with a clinical placement that fits into their schedule, but each clinic meets on a designated day of the week and time).

Trainees pursue leadership development through leadership skill workshops, individual mentoring from both a primary discipline mentor as well as experiential practicum preceptors, and development of individualized leadership training plans. The core curriculum is supplemented for all Trainees by additional online and live training experiences as determined by the Trainees’ learning goals. Trainees may also apply for additional opportunities, such as attending a conference in Washington D.C. related to disability, maternal and child health, or 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

  • 2 1/2 day Orientation scheduled immediately prior to Fall semester
  • 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
  • Supervision/mentoring

Curriculum Structure

Learning Unit I: Orientation and Getting Started

During the Orientation 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 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.

2nd-Year Curriculum Overview

The 2nd year training program provides an opportunity for Trainees who have excelled in the 1st year training to be mentored to achieve more advanced competencies and skills while making a unique contribution to the WI LEND program. Roles and responsibilities for 2nd year Trainees include leadership development and serving as a role model for 1st year Trainees; contributing to the core curriculum from their own area of expertise; serving as a full member of an interdisciplinary team in a clinical or community-based Waisman Center program; and conceptualizing, implementing, and disseminating results from a year-long translational research, program evaluation, or systems change/policy project and share projects outcomes through a published paper or presentation at a professional meeting. Each 2nd year Trainee’s specific training program is individualized in consultation with the LEND Director, Training Director, and training activity mentors.

Stipends are awarded to 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 is about $6000/year, paid over 2 semesters. The method of payment is determined by the Trainee’s affiliation or position with the University, and may include payment through payroll or a direct check. Because students are not permitted to receive two different sources of federal funding, applicants with scholarships or UW employment will need to have their eligibility for a stipend be determined.