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Funded Projects

New Mexico LEND

Project Website

Grant Status: Completed

Training Category: Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (LEND)

Project Director(s):

Sandra Heimerl, PT, DPT, MS
Center for Development and Disability
University of New Mexico Pediatrics
University of New Mexico
2300 Menaul Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM  87107
Phone: 505-272-0096


New Mexico (NM) is a racially and ethnically diverse state, ranking 46th in child well-being. Health professional shortages and the necessity for local, state and regional training strongly support the need for education, training and leadership development provided by the LEND program in NM. Go

Goals and Objectives:

Goal 1: Contribute to the next generation of leaders by educating a diverse interdisciplinary cadre of trainees to possess the knowledge, skills and attitudes to meet the unique needs of the MCH population. Objective 1: Annually recruit and select from a pool of diverse applicants 22-25 long-term interdisciplinary trainees representing the core and related disciplines of whom 35% are from minority populations. Objective 2: Annually educate an interdisciplinary cadre of 22-25 long-term and at least 30 medium-term (150-299 hrs) trainees in the practice of developmental screening, diagnostics, and evidence-based interventions to support children with ASD and their families. Objective 3: Annually educate at least 30 medium-term trainees and 40 short-term trainees with a curriculum which provides clinical, didactic and/or leadership experiences that meets the demands of their academic programs and stage of professional development. Goal 2: Serve as a state, regional and national educational resource for professionals serving the MCH community by providing high quality interdisciplinary education. Objective 1: A minimum of 50 continuing education programs will be provided for the MCH workforce and partners on topics of relevance utilizing in person or distance learning formats. Objective 2: A minimum of 100 professionals will be trained each year to utilize valid and reliable screening tools, diagnostic tools and/or evidence based interventions to address autism and related developmental disabilties. Objective 3: At least 80% of the continuing education participants will report increased awareness and knowledge following the training. Goal 3: Provide technical assistance to Title V and other partners to improve services and supports for children with disabilities and their families, with an emphasis on eliminating health disparities. Objective 1: Technical assistance/consultation will be provided each year to a minimum of 900 individual and/or organizational recipients from local, state, and national Title V and other MCH-related partners including practitioners in the field. Objective 2: Eighty percent of the LEND faculty will serve on state or national advisory boards, task forces and/or committees each year. Goal 4: Contribute to the advancement in evidence-based best practices for children with disabilities through the conduct of research and dissemination of research findings. Objective 1: Each long term trainee will engage in a research project under the mentorship of LEND faculty. Objective 2: The NM LEND faculty members and/or trainees will produce a minimum of 35 refereed journals, technical reports, non-refereed articles, books/chapters, or other educational products annually. Objective 3: NM LEND faculty members and/or trainees will present findings from evidence-based practices and research in the field of disabilities at a minimum of 20 professional meetings/conferences each year.


The curriculum is designed to prepare interdisciplinary health professionals for leadership roles in caring for children with special health care needs and neurodevelopmental disabilities. MCH knowledge and skill areas provide a foundation for the curriculum at the graduate education level, and a framework for continuing education for the practicing MCH professional. The curriculum incorporates the acquisition of knowledge of neurodevelopmental disabilities with a focus on autism, life course development and social determinants of health, leadership competencies which includes strong communication skills (MCH leadership competencies V3, 2009), interdisciplinary skills, research, partnering with families through family centered care and cultural competency, and public health including knowledge to work across systems of care. The faculty is committed to using adult learning techniques which emphasize learner inquiry, learner driven curriculum, development of appropriate questions and life-long learning all of which require learners to take responsibility for what they learn. One of the specific techniques employed is Problem Based Learning. These methods are used throughout seminars, institutes, clinical practice, interdisciplinary team building experiences and evaluation activities. Activities require that the students practice and apply skills in leadership, scholarship, and family-centered partnerships.


New Mexico LEND has a strong collaborative relationships and activities with State Title V, UNM PPC, LEND/Pac West members, and other LEND programs to provide opportunities for students and working professionals within the state and region.


Evaluation of the NM LEND program will consist of a mixed methodology- (i) documentation of both MCHB performance measure data and program objectives' indicators (ii) assessments of learning and trainee growth (quantitative & qualitative), and (iii) qualitative feedback and program review provided by faculty, students and families. (i) and (ii) will be annual measures pertaining to the current cohort of trainees while (iii) is long-term impact over the five years of the project.