An insufficient number of health professionals are being adequately trained to provide culturally sensitive, person- and family-centered, interdisciplinary care to children and youth with special health care needs, especially those with autism spectrum disorder and related neurodevelopmental disabilities (ASD/DD). The purpose of the Vanderbilt Consortium LEND (VCL) is to address this critical need by providing educational experiences to trainees from a variety of disciplines so they can assume leadership roles and ensure high levels of interdisciplinary clinical care to individuals with ASD/DD across the life span.
Goals and Objectives:
The VCL is comprised of 27 faculty from 9 institutions in Nashville and Johnson City, TN, including Family Voices of Tennessee. A primary focus of the program is to provide annual, intensive (300+ hrs.) interdisciplinary training to at least 29 trainees in 14 disciplines. Their training includes a rigorous weekly Core Curriculum in ASD/DD; a monthly Leadership Seminar series; a Care Navigation Practicum; clinical experiences in various interdisciplinary hospital-based, community-based, and public health clinics; interdisciplinary group projects; faculty-initiated research; and a broad list of activities from which the trainees can tailor their experiences based on their professional goals and aspirations. At the completion of this experience, trainees will have the requisite knowledge, skills, and attitudes to provide interdisciplinary, person- and family-centered, community-coordinated, culturally competent, and empirically-based services to individuals with ASD/DD and their families. VCL also partners with other programs to provide myriad educational opportunities for practicing health care and educational professionals, including ASD screening workshops and interdisciplinary CE events in TN and other locations.
Through collaborations with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders, state of TN, community organizations, and the institutions in our Consortium, we also provide technical assistance to health delivery systems and organizations that support services to individuals with ASD/DD, especially underserved populations in rural settings and those with diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
The VCL works to increase the participation and integration of underrepresented minorities into our community of faculty, trainees, families, and patients. We have a robust dissemination plan to provide educational materials and updates on innovations in the field of ASD/DD to a diverse audience of families, communities, interdisciplinary health care professionals, and other key stakeholders.